Critically ill deacon is ordained for Scottish ChurchSaturday, April 14th, 2012
When Fr Graham Turner prepared for ordination to the priesthood last year, he little expected the trial that awaited him.
The former computer programmer had lived in a presbytery in Ravelston, near Edinburgh for five years, helping to care for retired clergy, before he was accepted as a clerical student for the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh.
He studied in Rome at the Beda College and was ordained to the diaconate in June 2010. His ordination was set for June 2011, a moment he looked forward to with great expectation and joy. But shortly after, Graham was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukaemia, and his ordination had to be postponed.
For the last year, he has been undergoing treatment for the cancer, which has not been successful.
During Holy Week this year, his father contacted Cardinal Keith O’Brien, primate of the Catholic Church in Scotland and informed him that from a medical point of view nothing more could be done for Deacon Turner.
Immediately plans got underway to ordain him, and on Easter Monday, at 2:00pm Cardinal O’Brien administered the sacrament to the 43 year old in the chapel at Manchester’s Royal Infirmary Hospital, and he became Fr Graham Turner, Scotland's most recent ordinand.
Cardinal O'Brien was joined by several other priests at the ordination, including the Rector of the College in Rome where he had studied and the Administrator of St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh, as well as Fr Turner's parents, brother, sister and friends from Salford Diocese (Manchester) and St Andrews and Edinburgh Archdiocese.
Throughout the ceremony, Deacon Graham Turner sat on a padded wheelchair. He assisted at the Mass and with help from nursing staff was able to stand for a short time at the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer before he had to sit down again.
Afterwards Cardinal O’Brien said that the ordination went beautifully.
“He participated fully and was aware of everything that was going on. During the actual ordination, I anointed his hands and seminarian Jeremy Milne put the stole around his neck.”
Fr Turner’s family said they were delighted the ordination had taken place. Afterwards the Salford Hospital Trust provided a buffet reception for the guests. Cardinal O’Brien has asked for continued prayers for Fr Turner’s health and vocation.
“You are asked to pray for Graham as he continues his ongoing journey in the priesthood, being an excellent example to all of us in his embracing the Cross of Jesus Christ as he prepares for the glory of the Resurrection,” he said.
by Susan Gately