Diocese’s newest priest dies one week after ordination

Diocese’s newest priest dies one week after ordination April 22, 2012

My blogging neighbor Kathy Schiffer has this poignant story:

Graham Turner wanted to be a priest. It was toward that end that he enrolled at the Beda College in Rome, planning to serve in the Diocese of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, in Scotland.  Graham had hoped to be ordained with his class last June; but that was delayed when he was diagnosed with leukemia.

During Holy Week, it became apparent that Graham’s disease was progressing and that his prognosis was poor; so Graham’s father petitioned Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, to ordain his son before his death.  Cardinal O’Brien agreed, and 48-year-old Graham Turner was ordained on Easter Monday in the chapel of Salford Royal Hospital, near Manchester, England, with his parents, his brother and sister present.  One week later, Father Turner passed away without ever serving in a parish, without exercising the ministry to which he felt called.

Monsignor Roderick Strange, rector of the Beda Seminary, was present as well, and he remarked on the poignancy and power of the ceremony.  “There is a line in the ordination rite,” Msgr. Strange said, “where the bishop tells the ordinand to model their life on the mystery of Christ’s cross; and that was very much fulfilled in that ceremony.”

A Catholic paper in Scotland has more:

The ordination of the deacon of St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh took place in Salford Royal chapel in Greater Manchester in front of Fr Turner’s parents, brother and sister and friends in the clergy including Mgr Michael Regan, St Mary’s Cathedral administrator.

When the cardinal visited the new priest again last Friday he noticed that the hospital staff had decorated Fr Turner’s room with the congratulation cards he had received and photographs from the ordination ceremony itself, taken by the chaplains, which gave him comfort. However, Fr Turner’s condition remained critical.

“The hospital called in his parents at 3.45am [on Monday] and he was given the sacraments,” Cardinal O’Brien said. “His parents, brother and sister were there when he died peacefully at 7.15am.”

“It was good that he achieved the end of his journey,” Mgr Regan added. “He had finished all his studies, it was a completion of all that he achieved.”

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him…

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