Obituary: Canon John McAuley, parish priest

Father John McAuley, Son of the rock and parish priest. Picture: Contributed
Father John McAuley, Son of the rock and parish priest. Picture: Contributed
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Born: Dumbarton, 24 June, 1946. Died: Glasgow, Palm Sunday, 20 March, 2016

Well-known Dumbarton-born priest Canon John McAuley has died after a short illness. He was 69.

Father McAuley was parish priest of St Philomena’s in Provanmill, Glasgow, and had been a priest of the archdiocese for 46 years.

He passed away on Palm Sunday afternoon in the Little Sisters of the Poor Home in Robroyston, Glasgow, after having been fortified by the rites of the Catholic Church.

Archbishop Philip Tartaglia said: “With the death of Canon John McAuley, the archdiocese has lost one of its most senior, experienced and respected priests.

“He will be sorely missed by his family, his parishioners and the whole diocese. May he rest in peace.”

Fr McAuley was born into a large Catholic family in Dumbarton in June, 1946.

His parents, Pat McAuley and Lizzie Hart, were school teachers. Mr McAuley taught Latin at St Patrick’s High School before becoming head teacher of St Kessog’s Primary School in Balloch.

Father McAuley was brought up with his brothers and sisters, Margaret, Mary, John, Joe, Patrick and Andrew in the family home in Barloan Crescent, Dumbarton.

Joseph was a practising solicitor in Paisley before he too joined the priesthood as a late vocation. He is presently parish priest of St Brendan’s, Yoker.

Other relatives prominent in the Catholic Church include the late Bishop William Andrew Hart, Bishop of Dunkeld, and Monsignor Daniel Hart, who was the principal organiser of the visit of St John Paul II to Scotland in 1982.

Father McAuley was educated by the Sisters of Notre Dame at St Patrick’s Primary School in McLean Place, Dumbarton, where he was an excellent scholar and enthusiastic sportsperson, who played for the school football team.

He carried on his interest in sport playing college football and enjoyed golf and ski-ing in Europe with priest friends, including Monsignor Desmond Maguire, the now retired parish priest of St Patrick’s, Dumbarton. He was also an avid supporter of Celtic Football Club.

Father McAuley was ordained to the priesthood at St Patrick’s Church in Dumbarton in July, 1970, after training for the priesthood in the Royal Scots College in Spain. The service was attended by relatives and friends, some of them from the McAuley home place in Ahoghill, County Antrim. Glasgow parishes he served in as assistant priest include Holy Cross, Crosshill; St Mary’s, Abercrombie Street; St Augustine’s, Milton; St Gregory’s, Wyndford and St Brendan’s, Yoker before he was appointed parish priest at St Philomena’s in Provanmill in the north of the city, where he served from 1992 to 2016. 

Father McAuley was a serious minded man of high intellect, strong faith and solid Christian principles. Renowned as a thoughtful preacher, administrator and adviser, he was extremely popular with parishioners in all the parishes in which he worked.

He was appointed a Canon of the Cathedral Chapter by Archbishop Mario Conti and was named Dean of the North Glasgow Deanery in 2003.

Canon McAuley’s remains will be brought to his beloved St Philomena’s Church on Tuesday at 12 noon and will remain there until 6.30pm to allow all those who wish to visit and pay their respects, to do so.

Reception with Vigil for the Deceased will take place at St Philomena’s on Easter Tuesday, 29 March, at 7pm. The Requiem Mass will be on Wednesday, 30 March, at 11.30am at St Philomena’s.