A TRAINEE Port priest is preparing for his official ordination next month after seven years of study and a delay due to the pandemic.

Deacon Ryan Black has been completing his final semester of the Pontifical Scots College in Rome from home due to Covid-19.

The 28-year-old has been completing his seminary training online from his home in Port Glasgow since Italian universities were closed in March.

Ryan says he has enjoyed the unusual end to his studies.

He said: "It has been a strange last few months of preparation.

"With pontifical universities closed, the Scots College community were sent home to complete the semester in Scotland and we had online lectures and exams.

"One positive side of all of this has been that I’ve been able to spend time with my parents, Joan and Norrie, before my ordination.

"Normally, I would have returned to Scotland one week before my ordination, which had originally been scheduled for June."

The former St Stephen's High School pupil and DJ says he has always wanted to be a priest but it took years for answer his calling.

He said: "I started to discern my vocation to priesthood after a mission trip to South Africa with a former parish priest of mine.

"In South Africa, I had access to the day-to-day life of a priest – something that few young people get to experience in Scotland.

"I'd never believed in the idea of a call, but after South Africa I became aware of a niggling thought in the back of my mind, which became more and more persistent - 'what about priesthood?’

"It is clear to me, now, that this was how God manifested my call."

The Deacon, whose local parish is St Francis' in Port Glasgow, was accepted for seminary in the spring of 2013 and since then he has had many memorable experiences, including featuring in BBC's Priest School documentary.

Ryan told the Tele: "Without a doubt, meeting the Pope three times has been a highlight of my time studying in Rome.

"The most significant was when I served for him at the Easter Vigil in 2017, in St Peter’s Basilica.

"Another highlight was being ordained a deacon in May 2019, surrounded by family, friends and clergy from across the Diocese."

Ryan's ordination will take place in St Mirin’s Cathedral on August 15 and will be carried out by Bishop John Keenan.

There will be less people in attendance than normal due to Covid-19 restrictions, but the soon-to-be Port priest hopes that family and close friends will still be able to attend.

He added: "I'm so thankful to my parents, my brother Chris, family, friends and the priests and people of St Francis' parish for their support and prayers for the past eight years.

"I don't think the journey to priesthood would have been so bearable if it wasn't for the support of so many.

"It is not such a common thing when a young man discerns a vocation to priesthood these days.

"These past seven years have been the best of my life, and I cannot wait to return to the diocese as a priest, to serve the people of God here, as best I can."