New priests for Archdiocese of Washington
From experiences at home, the seminary and at parishes, future priest learned enduring lessons
Jun 10, 2019
Reflecting on his journey to the priesthood, Deacon Brendan Glasgow wrote that his story “is a testament to how God works little by little and step by step. God has a plan for all of us.”
On June 15, Deacon Glasgow will be ordained as one of 10 new priests for the Archdiocese of Washington by Archbishop Wilton Gregory in a 10 a.m. Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
For Deacon Glasgow – who is 26 and first thought about the priesthood when he was 16 – his vocational journey was inspired by his homeschooling family, by the priests who were welcome guests at his home, by his seminary experiences, beginning as a pioneer student at the newly opened Blessed John Paul II Seminary, and by the people at the parishes he served in all different parts of the archdiocese.
Along the way, he said he’s learned “my life is not my own, and I’m going to be giving my life to the Church and to the people of the archdiocese. My experiences over these past 10 years have convinced me it (the priesthood) is a life worth living, a life completely dedicated to the Lord.”
His faith journey began at home, as the second oldest of seven children of Brendan Glasgow Sr. and Beth Glasgow. His father, for whom he is named, works as a government contractor.
“He taught us how to pray. He taught us just a good example of fatherhood,” Deacon Glasgow said of their father, also noting that he served as a baseball coach for some of the children and led the family in praying grace before meals.
The deacon’s mother Beth Glasgow, who has an education degree, homeschooled all the children. She homeschooled her older children, including Deacon Glasgow, through high school, and the youngest three children attended Catholic high schools.
“It was all about the child, what was best for the child,” Deacon Glasgow said, who added, “academically, you become very independent and self motivated… The biggest benefit is you really get close to your family. You live with them, you study with them. Life is still busy, with 100 events going on. We all played sports and had activities.”
Praising his mother’s example of faith, he noted that she modeled the Christian truth that in giving, you receive. She has told her children how happy and fulfilled her life has been, as their mother and their teacher.
“She’s a mother, all about her children and family. She is completely generous with her time and herself,” said Deacon Glasgow, who said that from her example, “I think I learned how to be generous and giving of myself. I want to serve.”
Deacon Glasgow also noted the special culture of Catholic homeschooling families and how they nurture the faith in their families. “We’d pray the rosary as a family,” he said. Many of those families also foster close friendships among fellow homeschooling families, and they have nurtured several local priestly vocations, including him and his younger brother James, who is also a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Washington and is studying at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.
He noted how his parents love the priesthood and often invited parish priests or other priest friends to their home, after daily Mass to join their family for breakfast, or for dinner, cookouts, or after First Communions or other sacramental milestones.
The mindset of his parents was “he’s our priest, let’s include him as part of the family,” said Deacon Glasgow, who said that for him, after seeing the priests at church, and then at their home, “I was able to see the humanity behind the priesthood.” He said he learned they had other interests, like sports, but “they were still priests, committed to their people.”
In the reflection that he wrote about his vocation, Deacon Glasgow noted the names of 10 priests whom he had gotten to know at his parish, as guests at his home and through the homeschooling community.
Father Thomas Kalita, the longtime pastor at their home parish, St. Peter’s in Olney, will vest Deacon Glasgow at his ordination to the priesthood.
After entering the newly opened Blessed, now Saint, John Paul II Seminary in 2011 as one of the pioneer students there, Deacon Glasgow said he was inspired by the example of the priests there, including Msgr. Robert Panke, the rector; Father Carter Griffin, the vice-rector; and Father William Gurnee, the seminary’s director of spiritual formation.
“They challenged you, they demanded a lot, but you knew what they were saying was solid formation and good catechesis,” said Deacon Glasgow. “You knew that they were the real deal. That got all of us motivated. Their joy and love of the priesthood would shine through. You could tell they were priests through and through. That inspired us to want to become good priests.”
This spring, Deacon Glasgow earned a master’s of divinity degree at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, and he said a special part of his educational experience there was the opportunity to pray the rosary during the week at the nearby National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes.
“She’s there,” he said, noting his personal devotion to Mary, and how inspiring it is to see so many pilgrims praying at the grotto, which is surrounded by scenic countryside. “Our Lady, she’s definitely accompanied me through the years of the seminary.”
This past year as a deacon, he got to preach at Masses, helped prepare couples for marriage and presided at their weddings, and baptized some babies. “I had to start thinking like a priest,” he said.
In a challenging year as the Catholic Church faced the aftermath of the abuse crisis, Deacon Glasgow said he found support and encouragement from the priests involved in his formation, from his fellow seminarians, and from the people he served during his pastoral year at St. Elizabeth Parish in Rockville, Maryland. That underscored the need for personal holiness and to “keep your eyes focused on the Lord, and that will shape everything,” he said.
Praising the people whom he served at that parish this past year, he said, “They are faithful. They love their priests. That kept me grounded through the year, being at the parish, being with the people.”
As a seminarian over the years, in addition to St. Elizabeth Parish in the suburbs of Montgomery County, he also served at Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in Washington, D.C., and at two Southern Maryland parishes – St. Cecilia in St. Mary’s City and St. Peter Claver in St. Inigoes.
“Every parish is unique,” Deacon Glasgow said, adding that those assignments helped him experience “the full spectrum of the archdiocese. In every parish, no matter how rich or poor or diverse, what I’ve found is that in every parish, it really is the faith that unites us.”
Those experiences, he said, have taught him that “I can give myself to these people, and I can love them as a priest. It really doesn’t matter where I’m assigned. I know this diocese, and I love this diocese because of the experiences I’ve had.”
And like the priests welcomed into his family’s home over the years, he looks forward to getting to know the parish families whom he will serve.
“As a priest, I want to take what I’ve experienced and be involved in my parishioners’ lives as a family,” he said.
Deacon Glasgow – who will celebrate his first Mass at his home parish, St. Peter’s in Olney, on June 16 at 11 a.m. – added that as his ordination day approaches, “I’m excited. I belong to the Lord now. I’m in, I’m in for the long haul!”
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