Rev. J. Douglas Lawson
SH Pastor 1997 - Retired 2005
33 August 1933 - Death 14 Jan. 2022
Fr. Doug was the fourth arrival of his parents' seven children. Fr. Bob, is the eldest of the family and is known by many of our parishioners from either Mass or when he came here as the State Chaplin of the Knights of Columbus to assist Fr. Doug in establishing our chapter. Second in line is Marie, a resident of Goldsboro. His 3rd inline sister, Delores, lives in California. John is the 5th child who was a professor at Clemson. Brother Tom was a professor at UNC-Greensville until his death 1985. The youngest child, Mark, was a Nurse-Anesthetist. The very proud father was known to have said, "I have three sons who can put people to sleep- two priests and a nurse-anesthetist!"
Father Doug was born in Durham, NC, on August 31, 1933, to the late Gladys (Wilson) Lawson and the late Thomas J. Lawson. Father Doug was predeceased by his siblings, his brothers, Father Robert Lawson (a priest of the Diocese of Raleigh) and Dr. Thomas Lawson, and his sister, Mrs. Marie Jernigan. Father Doug is survived by his sister, Mrs. Dolores Harris; his brothers, Mr. John Lawson and Mr. Mark Lawson; and his nephew, Mr. Sam Jernigan, III.
Father Doug graduated from Immaculate Conception Catholic School in Durham and, after discerning a vocation to the priesthood, entered the Franciscan Friars Conventual Novitiate and attended Saint Francis Seminary (High School) in Staten Island, NY, and Saint Anthony on the Hudson Seminary (College and Theology) in Rensselaer, NY. Father Doug was ordained to the priesthood for the Franciscans on May 26, 1962, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany, NY, by the Most Reverend William A. Scully, Bishop of Albany. Additionally, Father Doug completed a Masters in Education at Iona College in New Rochelle, NY.
For the Franciscans, Father Doug served as a missionary in Brazil; as assistant dean at Saint Francis Seminary in Staten Island, NY; as Mission Procurator; as a hospital chaplain; as vicar provincial and as a priest chaplain in the United States Army.
During an assignment at Hancock Air Force Base near Syracuse as the civilian chaplain, he enlisted in the Army. His first tour of active duty of six years was spent at Fort Benning, GA, Korea and Germany. After this tour of duty, he was moved to Fort Hamilton in Brooklvn, NY, and while there was elected vicar provincial of the Franciscan Province and also secretary, positions he held for six years. During this time, he resigned from active duty with the Army but remained in the reserves.
He later returned to active duty, serving at Fort Jackson, SC, as well as tours in Turkey and Germany. He returned to the US and reported to Fort Campbell, KY, where after one year, he retired from the Army after 21 years of service. He was assigned as pastor of Infant of Prague Church in Jacksonville, NC, where he remained for two years. At this time, he requested permission from the Vatican to leave the Franciscan Order so that he could join the Diocese of Raleigh and return to his NC roots.
Incardinated as a priest of the Diocese of Raleigh in December 1996, Father Doug then continued to serve in priestly ministry as parochial vicar at Saint Michael the Archangel Parish in Cary; as administrator of Saint Catherine of Siena Parish in Wake Forest; and as pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Southport.
He was warmly welcomed at Sacred Heart, where parishioners felt “blessed to have a preacher/teacher with his training, education and wide experiences who is also compassionate, caring and fun to be around,” as a bulletin article from his arrival to the parish explained. The parish also noted that Father Doug was a pinochle player of some renown. He had learned the game from a German priest and later taught seminarians how to play so that he had someone to play cards with during his seminary years.
Father Doug retired from active priestly ministry in July 2004 and, until recently, continued to serve, assisting in priestly ministry throughout the Cape Fear Deanery and across the Diocese of Raleigh.
* from the Diocese of Raleigh notice