Bishop John was born at Glasgow on 22nd June, 1929. He was accepted by the Archdiocese of Glasgow and was sent to study in France at the Sulpician seminaries of Issy-les-Moulineaux and the Institut Catholique, Paris (Faculty of Etudes Sociales). Interestingly enough, Bishop McGill, the second Bishop of Paisley, also came from Holy Cross parish and he too studied at the Sulpician seminaries in Paris.
Bishop John was ordained Priest in St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Glasgow, by Archbishop Donald A. Campbell on 12th June 1952, the Feast of Corpus Christi. His first appointment was as Assistant Priest at St. Ninian’s, Knightswood where he would serve for 23 years. He then moved to Our Lady and St. George’s Penilee until 1979 when he was appointed Parish Priest of St. Joseph’s, Tollcross. In addition to his Parish commitments at this time Bishop John also held the following appointments: Scottish National Chaplain, Girl Guides; Chairman, Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund; Episcopal Vicar for Marriage; Chairman of the Glasgow Catholic Marriage Advisory Council; Chairman of the Scottish Catholic Marriage Advisory Council; Director of the Ministry to Priests programme.
On 24th April 1984 he was nominated by Pope John Paul II to be Auxiliary Bishop to Archbishop Winning as titular bishop of Abercorn and was ordained Bishop by Archbishop Winning, in Holy Cross Church, Glasgow on 14th May, 1984. He was translated to the Diocese of Paisley on 8th March 1988 and assumed the government of the Diocese on 30th March 1988 at the Mass of the Chrism. As a member of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, Bishop John was President & Treasurer of the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund; President of Justice & Peace (Scotland); President of Scottish Catholic Marriage Care; and President of the Pastoral and Social Commission. He was also the Bishop tasked with leading the Church’s response to child abuse and to putting in place the necessary safeguards for children and vulnerable adults in our parish and diocesan communities.
Pope John Paul II accepted Bishop John’s retirement on 7th. September 2004. In retirement our “Bishop Emeritus” had been active in supplying for priests around the diocese and had renewed his skill in sign-language so that he could minister to the Deaf and hard of hearing. Bishop John continued to be an active member of our presbyterate and a welcome and much loved presence at our Diocesan celebrations.
Latterly he moved to the Little Sisters of the Poor in Greenock where he received loving care and attention and he died peacefully on Friday 14th October 2016.