John Gillespie was born in Altoona, PA, is 1946; moved to Jacksonville, FL in 1951, where he attended elementary school, and Englewood High School. In 1960 he started seminary training at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, where he graduated college in 1968. After three years graduate study at St. Vincent de Paul Seminary in Boynton Beach, FL, he graduated from Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, MA in 1972, with a Master’s in Early Christian Literature. He did graduate work at the University of Florida starting in 1968, in sociology and anthropology, toward his doctorate (dissertation not finished).
In 1972, he was ordained a Roman Catholic priest for the Diocese of St. Augustine, and has served at Immaculate Conception (1972-73) in Jacksonville, St. Paul’s (1973-75) in Pensacola, Holy Family (1975-79) in Willeston, St. Johns (1979-81) in Crescent City, St. Augustine Catholic Church and Student Center (1981 – 2010) in Gainesville and San Sebastains’ (2010-2017) in St. Augustine. He also taught at Bishop Kenny H.S. ( 1972-73) and Pensacola Catholic H.S. (1973-75).
He has continued study interests in languages (Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese), Scripture and Patristics, social science (marriage and family epistemology) anthropology Native–American, (Meso-American, Andreau Amazonia) history (Late Antique, Pre Colombian, Spanish colonial) He served for twenty – eight years on the board of St. Francis House in Gainesville.