Our Clergy

Fr. Mark Drew - Parish Priest

I’ve been asked to write a few words about myself, so I’ll try to give a brief summary of my life story. Although I like to write, I’ll admit that find it quite difficult write about myself: to know what to say and what to leave out, to give an idea of who I am without excessive detail. So here goes…


I was born in Liverpool in 1960, a descendant of Irish immigrants, and was baptised in St. Francis Xavier’s Church. When I was four or five we moved to Knotty Ash, to St. Margaret Mary’s parish, where my mum still lives. My sister Lisa and brother Paul were born there, and I attended the parish primary school. That’s where I learned about our Catholic faith, and that’s where I guess my vocation was born.


After secondary school with the Christian Brothers at Cardinal Godfrey (now defunct) I entered Upholland College as a junior seminarian in 1977. After that I spent three years at the English College in Rome. I greatly enjoyed my time there, but I realized that I was not yet ready to commit, so I interrupted my seminary studies and carried on studying theology as a lay student at Oxford. After graduation I worked for a time in the civil service before returning to seminary. After a few years with the Fraternity of St. Peter (who now run St Mary’s in Warrington) it became clear to me that I was meant for diocesan priesthood after all. By then I had established strong links with France, so I joined the archdiocese of Sens and Auxerre in Burgundy, finished my studies, and was ordained in Auxerre in 1995. I am proud of my links with the Church of Auxerre, which for many centuries was a centre of Christian learning and spirituality (so much so that St. Patrick is thought to have studied there before returning to evangelise Ireland.)


After two years as a curate in the Cathedral of Auxerre, I was named parish priest of six villages near Sens, a small, historic town about an hour from Paris. While there, I obtained permission to do further studies. I have always been interested in the theology and spirituality of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and eventually I obtained a doctorate in this subject from the Institut Catholique in Paris. My studies were always carried out together with parish work, and in 2007 I was permitted to work for a time in Greece to see Orthodoxy at first hand and learn the modern language. All in all I spent five years there, acting as assistant in the Cathedral parish in Athens and also in Rhodes and Kos.


Family and personal health issues led me to return to the UK in 2013 and offer my services in various parishes in Liverpool and Middlesbrough diocese. Since 2019 I have been in Warrington, first in Penketh. In April, Archbishop Malcolm asked me to take on St Peter and Michael's as Fr Gildea’s successor. I agreed with pleasure, although I am conscious that his shoes are not easy to fill!


So as you see, I have been a bit of a nomad. I am glad to have had the opportunity to live, study and work in several European countries, learn their languages and enjoy their different cultures. But now I am glad to put down my suitcases and settle down here in Woolston, hopefully for many years to come!


I remain very interested in theology, history and languages. (You may have heard that I have a number of books (!)) but as well as reading them, I hope to get to know all our parishioners. My passions as a priest are to share what I have had the opportunity to learn, so that we may all deepen our knowledge of our Faith, and to cultivate a worthy, reverent and beautiful celebration of the Church’s liturgy, so that the riches contained in it may be better known and appreciated, and that we may grow together into the knowledge and love of our God.


"He has blessed me in many ways. May he bless all of us as we journey together."


Fr Mark Drew

Fr. Mark can be contacted at m.drew@rcaol.org.uk

Jim McGraw - Deacon 

A little bit about myself…


I was born in Glasgow and my family moved to Barrow-In-Furness when I was 10 years old. I met Selena when I was 17 and we were married when I was 20. We left Barrow in 1978 and moved to Salford, where we lived for almost 10 years before moving to Warrington in 1988.


I am proud of many things in my life: I am a proud of all of my family, my wife Selena, our son Ian, and our grandsons Joshua and Callum. I am a proud Scotsman, and supporter of Glasgow Celtic, however, one of the things I am most proud of, is being a Permanent Deacon. I had been a reader at mass and then went onto become a Eucharistic Minister, but it’s difficult to explain how my journey then led me to being ordained. All I can tell you, is that I knew there was something within me that was telling me that I had to explore what may or may not be a genuine calling. By the grace of God, after almost 4 years of discernment, scrutiny and studying, I was ordained in July 2008.


I am very proud to serve as a Deacon in our parish. My duties and responsibilities include: assisting Father at mass and various other services such as those around Easter for example. I conduct Baptisms, Wedding services and Funeral services, as well as Eucharistic services. I am also involved in pastoral work such as the Baptism Preparation programme and I am heavily involved in bereavement support, visiting families at home and helping them to put together the funeral service for their loved ones.


We are all servants of the Lord, and as a Permanent Deacon, I am ‘a servant of the servants of the Lord.’ I am here to serve the Lord, to serve my parish, and to serve you.


Deacon Jim

Deacon Jim can be contacted at j.mcgraw@rcaol.org.uk

A History of Our Clergy

The list below shows the list of clergy who we have been fortunate enough to minister to our parish since it was built in 1835.  We have been blessed by their devotion to our parish.

Name Date to / From
Rev. Henry Sharples

1835 - 1838

Rev. John Carter

1838 - 1875 (till death)

Rev. John Gardner

1875 - 1884

Rev William Walsh

1884 - 1886

Rev Thomas Dawson

1886 - 1894

Rev. Thomas Myerscough

1888 - 1907

Rev. Joseph Lowe

1894 - 1907

Rev. Thomas B Allan

1907 - 1908

Rev. Thomas John Butler

1906 - 1907

Rev. Joseph Walmsley

1908 - 1914

Rev. John Miller

1914 - 1915

Rev. Henry Ainscough

1915 - 1938

Rev. Richard A Durand 

1938 - 1942

Rev. James barry

1942 - 1944

Rev. Lawrence Anderton

1944 - 1946

Canon Robert Meagher

1946 - 1950

Rev. Francis Chaloner

1950 - 1951

Rev. Joseph Mc Nulty

1951 - 1957

Rev. Francis Nunan

1957 - 1958

Rev. Patrick J Neligan

1958 - 1970

Rev. William J Reilly

1970 - 1976

Rev. Patrick A Dooley

1976 - 1982

Rev. Joseph Robinson

1982 - 1992

Canon John Tickle

1992 - 1998

Rev. John Gildea

1998 - 2022 (till death)

Rev. Mark Drew

2023 - 

A brief commentary on each of the priest mentioned above has been gathered from historical parish records and can be viewed here or the page can be accessed via Our Parish/Our Clergy/Clergy Profiles.  It's a fun read!