THE newly-appointed priest at the town’s St Mary’s and St David’s church says he has been humbled by “kindness and support” from local people as he settles into the role.
Father Kevin Douglas, 36, previously served the Catholic parishes of Livingston but last weekend celebrated his inaugural Sunday Mass in his new role among the Roman Catholic churches of Hawick, Kelso and Jedburgh.
Fr Douglas replaces Fr Galbraith, who enjoyed a four-year stint at the Buccleuch Street chapel before moving to West Calder last month.
“He loved it here, in fact I think he was upset to leave,” said Fr Douglas of his predecessor. “He told me lots of nice things about the area, and when I arrived I was overwhelmed by the kindness and support of the people. Certainly that has been my experience since arriving in Hawick, Jedburgh and Kelso.”
Fr Douglas, born in South Africa and raised in Southampton, was pleased to make something of a “homecoming”, as his surname suggests he may have an ancestral link to the Borders. While he is not researching his family history in these parts, his aim is to get to know local parishioners and carry on the fine work of Fr Galbraith.
He explained: “Cardinal Keith O’Brien asked me to carry on what Father Galbraith had been doing – the Cardinal had been very impressed with his work. He sent me here to be the priest for the people of Hawick and I’m very honoured by that privilege and looking forward to getting to know everyone.”
Fr Douglas was a pupil at a Christian Brothers school and, latterly, a student at St Andrew’s University before attending a seminary to train as a priest. For him, the journey meant following a natural path – all the way to St Mary’s and St David’s, which originally opened its doors in 1844 and does so again to its new incumbent priest.
“At university I had some sense that God was pulling me towards the priesthood,” said Fr Douglas. “I was at a Christian Brothers School and was very impressed by my teachers – my French teacher, Brother John Fisher, was a particularly big influence.” Fr Douglas will hope his influence can similarly enlighten the Catholic congregation of Hawick.