Saint Mary Magdalene Catholic Church - Flint, Texas
Father James Rowland, Pastor
Deacon Larry Gottschalk
The parish office is staffed by three great ladies. Sonia Escobedo, Father’s Pastoral Assistant. Ann Connor works part-time in the finance office. Marge Devereaux answers the phones and helps Father Rowland and everyone else to do their jobs.
Father James Rowland
Father James Rowland
High school was at the diocesan school in Ballina, County Mayo, (St. Muredach’s College). I graduated there in 1989 after which I went on to the seminary in Maynooth, County Kildare. I was a very ambivalent student and achieved the grades one would expect from someone who was not particularly interested in his studies. Nevertheless, I graduated with a BA and a BD (a graduate degree equivalent to a MA in theology).
I was ordained a deacon in 1996, but decided on a short leave of absence before priestly ordination and I worked as a draftsman in an architectural office. A short eight years later I met with Father Francis O’Dowd (pastor in Daingerfield) who is from County Mayo and he invited me to visit the Diocese of Tyler. Shortly after that, Father Tim Kelly (then studying the writings of the great Augustine in Rome and a frequent visitor back to Ireland) met with me a number of times and encouraged me to join the Diocese of Tyler.
In May 2006 I moved to Tyler, where I was assigned to St. Mary Magdalene and Father Kelly. I restarted seminary at St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston, did a mandatory pastoral year with Father Mark Kusmirek in Jacksonville, Texas, and was ordained a priest by Bishop Corrada on May 23, 2009, along with Fathers Peter McGrath and John Gomez.
My priestly assignments have been as parochial vicar at Our Lady of Victory, Paris (2009-2011); parochial vicar at Sacred Heart, Nacogdoches (2011-2013); and director and chaplain of St. Mary’s Catholic Campus Ministry at SFA, Nacogdoches (2013-2015). Both my Nacogdoches assignments overlapped with my assignment as administrator of St. Augustine, San Augustine.
Most recently (last month in fact), I completed studies in canon law at the Catholic University of America, where I was not an ambivalent student, and I have a JCL (Iuris Canonici Licentia). I serve as a judge at the diocesan tribunal in Tyler.
In terms of interests, I like to read, mainly history, canon law, fantasy fiction and liturgy; I also enjoy working out at the gym. I am looking forward to getting established at SMM, I look forward to renewing old relationships and establishing many new ones. I am very grateful to Father Kelly for his friendship, his passion, and his knowledge. He is an excellent priest and has been an excellent mentor and advocate for me and numerous other priests and seminarians. I hope and pray that I do not disappoint him as I begin my ministry with you.
Taken around 2006 at SMM: then seminarian Peter McGrath, then Deacon James (Seamus) Rowland, Father Kelly, and then seminarian Patrick Hartnett.
I am Father James Rowland, and Bishop Strickland has appointed me as the new pastor at St. Mary Magdalene in succession to Father Kelly. This is a short(ish) biographical note to introduce myself to you all.
I am the oldest of six, and was born just outside Crossmolina, County Mayo, Ireland, in September of 1971. My father, Fergus, was a farmer and worked a number of jobs at the same time, and my mother, Julia, stayed at home to rear the six children she had. Daddy died in April, 2008, a year before I was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Tyler. My mother, thank God, is hale, hearty and healthy. I hope she will be able to visit next spring.
I went to my local elementary school which was about 100 yards from my house, and I trace my vocation to serving Mass at our local church, across the road from the school. My family holds the keys of the church and it was natural, I guess, that I would be very involved in the life of our little church community.