Father Graham Turner, 48, was a priest for only one week when he passed away from leukemia.
“There is a great wave of sadness here at the moment but it was important that Graham was ordained,” said Monsignor Roderick Strange, Rector of the Beda College in Rome, where Fr. Turner studied for the priesthood.
“Although we are ordained for active ministry this was also a completion of a significant period in Graham’s life of discernment and commitment. So it was wonderful that he was ordained a priest.”
Fr. Turner was supposed to be ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of St. Andrews & Edinburgh, Scotland last June. That was postponed, however, after he was diagnosed with leukemia.
Cardinal Keith P. O’Brien of St. Andrews & Edinburgh decided to move swiftly after being told by the deacon’s father during Holy Week that his son’s prognosis was very bleak.
Fr. Turner was ordained on Easter Monday in the chapel of Salford Royal Hospital, near Manchester, England.
“The ceremony itself was very moving, very poignant, very powerful,” Msgr. Strange recalled, noting that “there is a line in the ordination rite where the bishops tells the ordinand to model their life on the mystery of Christ’s cross and that was very much fulfilled in that ceremony.”
Fr. Graham was wheeled into the chapel in his bed but was transferred to a wheelchair. He was able to assist at the Mass and, with the help of the nursing staff, stood for a short time at the beginning of the Eucharistic prayer. His parents, Marilyn and George, along with his brother Ian and sister Sue were able to be at the ordination.
“With Graham, I will remember the gentleness, the humor, the intelligence, the patience, the extraordinary strength of character, and in particular, the fortitude with which he responded to and coped with the last 12 months of his life,” Msgr. Strange said.