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.”
It’s hard to know the mind of God. When there is a great need for good and holy priests, when Father Turner had so much to offer, why was he called so quickly? I don’t know—but I do know that he exercises his priesthood even now.