Monday, May 29, 2023

Doctor quits medicine to become a priest in the Diocese of Elphin

From oncologist to priest - Fr. Chris's journey - Ocean FM

A 59 year old oncologist has turned his back on medicine to become a priest.

On Sunday last at the Cathederal of the Immaculate Conception in Sligo, Chris Garrett was ordained to the priesthood. He’s a nephew of the former Bishop of Elphin, Most Rev. Christopher Jones.

The 59-year-old was ordained a deacon last year and has been ministering alongside Fr. John McManus and Fr. Kevin Reynolds in the parish of Castlerea since.

Fr. Chris will celebrate his first Mass in St. Patrick’s Church, Castlerea tonight (Monday) at 8 p.m..The son of two doctors, Fr. Chris, was a highly regarded oncologist before deciding to enter the priesthood.

The San Francisco native said previously that his journey to the priesthood “was a slow burner.”

He is one of only four priests being ordained in Ireland this year, down from eight priests the previous year. He says the priesthood is a rewarding career even though the number of new candidates is falling sharply.

Fr. Garrett was born and raised in San Francisco; he is a dual national and completed his secondary school studies at St Andrews College, Booterstown) and his university education at University College Dublin (Medicine, 1988).

After three year’s Haematology and Oncology house officer training in Dublin, he completed his subspecialty training at the Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minnesota). He practiced academic medical oncology and clinical research for 28 years in the United States, most recently as Professor of Oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centre (Houston, Texas).

His clinical research interests included the study of investigational monoclonal antibodies and small molecule receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors, natriceuticals , and the role diabetes plays in colorectal cancer outcomes, in addition to ethical issues associated with prenatal screening, chemotherapy in pregnancy, and end-of-life care.

In 2012 he received a licentiate in bioethics from the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum (Rome) and has previously served on the MD Anderson Clinical Bioethics Consultation Committee.

In his homily at Sunday’s ordination, Bishop Kevin Doran expressed concern on the falling number of vocations to the priesthood.

He said: “I will be due to retire in five year’s time. That means that after this year, it is most unlikely that I will ordain another priest for our diocese. When I am gone and many of the other priests here today have retired, the mission of the diocese to minister to God’s people will continue.

"For that, we will need committed Christian parents, teachers, religious sisters, catechists and of course priests and deacons. While the call to mission is part of the Sacrament of Confirmation, the discernment of a vocation to priesthood, as we can clearly see in the life of Chris, is not just for teenagers. Increasingly, it is men in their twenties and thirties who come to seminary, bringing with them a very diverse experience of life and of Church. You may receive a call at any time. You may even have a “missed call” from God. Call him back – or call me, if you wish – and I will try and connect you,” said Bishop Doran.