Priesthood Class of 2020
Inspired by his priest brother’s example and support, Deacon Glasgow is ready for his own ordination
Jun 16, 2020
When asked how he felt as the day of his ordination to the priesthood was approaching, Deacon James Glasgow said, “It’s pretty amazing!” And he added, “I’m not freaking out or shaking in my boots.”
One year ago, his older brother, Father Brendan Glasgow, was ordained as a new priest of the Archdiocese of Washington. And when Archbishop Wilton Gregory ordains Deacon James Glasgow as one of eight new priests for the archdiocese on June 20, Father Glasgow will vest his younger brother during the ordination.
Deacon Glasgow said he chose his brother to do that for him out of gratitude. “For me, it’s a way to say thank you for the example that he’s been and continues to be for me,” he said.
The future priest was attending The Catholic University of America studying math when he decided to enter the seminary in 2014, and for one year, the two brothers both lived and studied at the nearby Saint John Paul II Seminary. Father Glasgow, who is now a parochial vicar at St. Peter’s Parish on Capitol Hill, had been among the first seminarians when the then-Blessed John Paul II seminary opened in 2011.
“I think the biggest way Father Brendan helped me was his example of stability. That year at the seminary, he was a rock for me, my foundation,” Deacon Glasgow said.
He said the joyful spirit among the seminarians there “give me more of an incentive to give my life to Jesus.”
Before their years in the seminary, the brothers grew up in a homeschooling family, and Deacon Glasgow said that during their high school years after they finished their schoolwork, they went skiing together.
“Father Brendan and I started doing aerials – freestyle (skiing) with all the jumps,” he said. “Thankfully, we never got hurt in such a way where we weren’t better in a week. There were definitely day-ending injuries.”
During his homeschooling years, the future priest also participated in musical theater and learned to tap dance and other do other kinds of dances, including swing and a style of break dancing.
Homeschooling, he said, was “really an amazing experience,” and he praised the witness of faith shown by his parents, Brendan Glasgow Sr. and Beth Glasgow, to their seven children. Deacon James Glasgow, who is 26, is the third oldest of the siblings, following his older brothers Thomas and Father Brendan. Next in line are Daniel, Clare, Bernadette and Mary Beth Glasgow. Their family’s home parish is St. Peter’s in Olney.
Reflecting on his family’s impact on his vocation, Deacon Glasgow wrote, “By God's grace, I grew up in a home of wonderful parents and siblings, with Christ as the center around which our lives revolved. With my parents frequently inviting priests to our home, their presence and witness of Christ steadily disposed me to the real possibility that I could be a priest. But above any particular vocation, my parents have always been clear about the universal call to holiness: we are made to be saints! Thus by their example, friendship with Jesus Christ assumed and continues to assume the primary goal in my life.”
Deacon Glasgow said he and his siblings were encouraged to be themselves, and to be holy.
In middle school and high school, he prayed about discerning his vocation. During his junior year in college while studying abroad in Ireland, the call became clear, first after a hiking trip in the Austrian Alps. “I remember this overwhelming sense of peace, of the Lord blessing this idea of being a priest in my head and my heart,” he said. Later, while he was in a church in Cork, Ireland, he said, “I remember praying with the Lord in a fairly nonchalant way, (saying) ‘Okay, Jesus, I guess it’s time to enter the seminary.’”
While studying philosophy as a student at the Saint John Paul II Seminary, he also completed his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Catholic University. He said he grew to see the beauty in math, “the different ways numbers interact, with so many patterns you wouldn’t expect.” And he noted that logic plays a key role in both philosophy and mathematics.
From 2016 until this spring, Deacon Glasgow studied at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, where he was able to experience the depth of the culture and history there, and witness the leadership of Pope Francis. The future priest said he admires Pope Francis’s approach to prayer.
“I speak completely freely and intimately with the Lord, with whatever’s in my heart, and the Holy Father emphasizes that,” he said.
In recent years, he’s taken up a new hobby – writing poetry. “I love expressing truth with beauty,” he said.
Deacon Glasgow said he learned from his summer assignments as a seminarian to St. Francis of Assisi in Derwood, Maryland, in 2016, to Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian Parish in Washington, D.C., in 2018; and to St. Bartholomew in Bethesda in 2019.
When Italy abruptly shut down during the coronavirus pandemic this spring, Deacon Glasgow joined fellow seminarians in catching a flight home to Washington the next day, and he’s been completing his studies online while living back at St. Bartholomew Parish.
“I’ve been able to receive the challenge of quarantine as a gift,” he said, adding that he believes that “the Lord gives graces in proportion to the difficulty at hand.”
The future priest said that he and another seminarian at the rectory, Chukwuma Odigwe, have been helping with the cooking.
“We made a Chinese fried rice thing last night that was tasty,” he said, adding that they recently also made pasta with an Alfredo sauce with grilled shrimp seasoned with lemon garlic.
“The dinners have proved really fraternal,” said Deacon Glasgow, noted that the seminarians there have had enjoyable dinner conversations with Father Mark Knestout, the pastor; and with Msgr. John Enzler, the president and CEO of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, who lives there.
The seminarian who enjoys hiking and skiing in the mountains has a down-to-earth approach toward his future life as a priest.
“I have a simple goal,” Deacon Glasgow said. “My goal is just to have the heart of Jesus. I want to be a pane of glass the Lord illuminates (so) his light shines through.”