Born in 1965 into a very loving Catholic family, I spent most of my childhood and teenage years in Loanhead. I attended St Margaret’s Primary School and St David’s High School, and I was heavily involved in my local parish, St Margaret of Scotland, as altar boy and later church organist. I had a sense of vocation to the priesthood from a very young age and, for part of my secondary education, I spent time at St Mary’s College, Blairs, in Aberdeen, which was Scotland’s national junior seminary. However, after a year at Blairs, I returned to St David’s High School in Dalkeith to complete my secondary education.
After leaving school, I joined a religious order, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, and entered the novitiate in Dublin in the mid-1980s. I enjoyed my time there and benefited greatly in my own personal and spiritual development. However, it was clear to me that at 19 years of age I was not ready to make a life-long commitment; I also realised that my vocation was not to religious life as such.
Having studied and qualified in Community Education, I began a career in the field of social work, initially working with young, homeless people in Edinburgh. I then moved to Glasgow in 1987 to be part of a team in a new project, also within the field of youth homelessness. I fell in love with Glasgow and continued to live in the city, initially in the south-east, then latterly moving to the west end, until my move to the Beda College in summer of 2012.
Over a period of 25 years, my career was mainly focused on social work and education with young people who experience social, emotional and behavioural challenges due to the difficult life situations they experienced. For the last ten years of my professional career, I was a director and chief executive officer of an independent child care organisation which provided residential care and education to some of Scotland’s most vulnerable and challenging young people in a variety of settings: residential school, alternative to secure care, foster care service, through-care and after-care service and family work. I had the great privilege of working with a very creative and committed board of directors who were dedicated to making a real difference to the lives of young people, and who afforded me the opportunity to create a range of innovative services which aimed to go that ‘one step further’ to meet the needs of the young people with whom we worked.
I also trained and qualified as a psychotherapist in 1998 and established a private practice in the west end of Glasgow. In addition to my full-time work, I worked therapeutically with individuals and couples, specialising in anxiety, depression, trauma, family work and couple-counselling, and worked both from cognitive-behavioural and psychodynamic perspectives.
I was very much of the view that my work with young people and in therapy was my true vocation. I really enjoyed my work and I gained a lot personally from it, witnessing real transformation in the lives of others. However, following my father’s death in 2007 and my mother death in 2010, I felt a sense of calling to the priesthood once again. While the Church and my involvement in it had always been an important part of my life, I had thought that priesthood had just been an idea of my early life. I remember soon after my mother’s death, I had a conversation with her parish priest, Fr John Morrison (a former student of the Beda College), during which he asked me if I had thought about priesthood. That seemed to confirm for me that perhaps what I had been feeling for some time merited further exploration. Having spoken to Mgr Allan Chambers and Fr Alex Davie (Vocations Director at that time for Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh), I found myself on the year-long seminary applicants’ course, which I found greatly beneficial in many ways, and subsequently I was accepted by Cardinal Keith O’Brien to study for the priesthood and by Mgr Rod Strange as a student for the Beda College.
I have spent four happy years in Rome, studying a variety of subjects relevant to priesthood – among them philosophy, theology and scripture, and participating in the other aspects of priestly formation. Each summer I spent time in parish pastoral placements; these were: Our Lady of Lourdes, Dunfermline and Holy Name, Oakley in 2013; St Andrew’s. St Peter’s and St Philip’s, Livingston in 2014; and St Patrick’s Kilsyth in 2015. I was ordained a deacon by Archbishop Cushley in Rome on 17 June 2015 in the Papal Basilica of St Paul’s Outside the Walls. And, with the grace of God, I will be ordained a priest on Friday 24 June 2016 in St Mary’s Metropolitan Cathedral, Edinburgh. I have already been appointed by the Archbishop to serve as Assistant Priest in the parishes of St Theresa’s, East Calder, and St Andrew’s and St Philip’s, Livingston from September this year.
Now that the date for my priestly ordination has been set for Friday 24 June 2016 at 7pm in St Mary's Metropolitan Cathedral. Edinburgh I write to invite the Parishioners of St Margatret's, Loanhead and Sacred Heart, Penicuik to attend the Ordination Mass, and to join Jamie McMorrin and me for refreshments afterwards in the Cathedral Hall.
It will be lovely to share this important time with the people from St Margaret's and Sacred Heart who wish to attend.
I would like to ask for your prayers for Jamie and me at this important time as we take the last few steps of preparation towards ordination.
With every best wish
Ordination Mass - Friday 24 June 2016 at 7pm in St Mary's Metropolitan Cathedral, Edinburgh
First Holy Mass - Saturday 25 June 2016 at 12pm in St Margaret's Church, Loanhead.
Rev Tony Lappin will celebrate Holy Masses and will give priestly blessing also
on Sunday 26 June 2016
- at 9.30am in St Margaret's, loanhead, and
- at 11.00am in Sacred Heart, Penicuik.