By John W. Yaquinta-The Catholic Spirit, WV
With Family and Friends Gathered for His Fourth Anniversary of Ordination, Father Christopher Turner Celebrates First Mass since Suffering Brain Aneurysm
BRIDGEPORT—After being away from active ministry for roughly four months recovering from a brain aneurysm, Father Christopher Turner celebrated Mass at the St. John’s Chapel at All Saints Parish in Bridgeport, his home parish, for the fourth anniversary of his ordination June 11.
“I am grateful to everyone for the prayers, cards and gifts,” Father Turner said following the celebration. “On behalf of my mom and dad, I would like to thank Bishop Bransfield and the priests, religious and people of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charles-ton.”
Concelebrating the Mass were Very Rev. Anthony Cincinnati, S.T.D., V.E., and Father Harry N. Cramer, pastor of All Saints. Father Turner’s first assignment in his priesthood was as associate pastor of St. Michael Parish in Wheeling, where Father Cincinnati was pastor at the time.
“Priestly anniversary celebrations are always significant for priests, parishes and the diocese because they mark milestones in the ongoing mission of Christ the good shepherd and high priest of his church throughout the generations,” Father Cincinnati said after the celebration. “Father Chris’s fourth anniversary as a priest was a special celebration because of the months of hospitalization and recuperation that preceded it. This was his first time presiding at the Eucharistic liturgy since his illness at the end of January 2009.”
Also present for the Mass were Father Turner’s parents; Ellen Condron, the parish nurse; and Steven Pishner, director of Music and Liturgy at the parish. Following the post-Communion prayer, Father Cincinnati extended to Father Turner the prayerful best wishes of Bishop Michael J. Bransfield. “I shared with him the heartfelt congratulations and loving support of so many throughout the city of Wheeling and around our state,” Father Cincinnati said. “In addition to thanking the Lord for Father Chris’s share in the priesthood of Jesus Christ, the celebration gave us an opportunity to be grateful to God for Father Chris’s life. He is a gift to the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston as he continues to serve the Lord faithfully as his priest. The prayers of so many have touched our lives as we witness his steady progress and recovery. The celebration was a beautiful event for his parents, his family, friends and for me.”
Father Turner had been serving as pastor of Our Lady of Peace Parish in Wheeling when he became ill. The aneurysm was then discovered in his brain Feb. 6. He was then life-flighted from Wheeling Hospital to Pittsburgh Presbyterian Hospital and discharged 20 days later after several surgeries. He then had an extended stay at HealthSouth in Morgantown and finally returned to his parent’s home in Bridgeport May 20. Four weeks later, he was celebrating Mass once again.
“I spent four days a week in outpatient rehab at United Rehab in Bridgeport,” Father Turner said. “When home I spend a lot of time doing exercises to strengthen my muscles. I still have trouble with my left side, especially my hip and short-term memory.”
Father Turner plans to return to active ministry.