Realfaith TV Follow-up: Former guest deacon with terminal cancer ordained
Compiled from staff reports
When he first sat down with Realfaith TV in May 2015, then Deacon Philip G. Johnson had been given just two years to live. Diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, he thought his hopes of becoming a priest were destroyed.
Fast-forward to 2017: Father Philip Johnson, of the Diocese of Raleigh, N.C., was ordained to the priesthood Jan. 7 by his former bishop, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, now bishop of the Diocese of Arlington, Va. The Rite of Ordination to the Priesthood Mass was held at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church, Wake Forest, N.C., where Father Johnson also celebrated his first Mass as a priest the next day.
Given only two years to live by his doctors – now nearly nine years ago – Father Johnson is proving that life, no matter its diagnosis, has intrinsic value and potential. Despite his ordination being delayed for medical treatments, he persevered.
Father Johnson told his story to Realfaith TV while still a deacon in St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Phila., in an interview with Brianna Farrell, student in Donovan Catholic High School, Toms River. The episode, “Facing Death in God’s Time,” aired May 2016. Giving witness to the sacredness of human life, then-Deacon Johnson stressed the importance of rejecting assisted suicide and living one’s natural life.
He recalled how, upon diagnosis, he wished that the disease would progress faster and take his life, to ease his suffering. “But over time you see the blessings that were inherent in the illness, where you’re able to help other people who are going through the same thing,” he said. “You know that suicide is made out of depression, is made out of desperation, is made out of fear – and it’s not the state of mind to be in when you’re making the most important decision of your life.”
A native of Greensboro, N.C., Father Johnson was a formal Naval Officer, serving during two deployments to the Northern Arabian Gulf before entering the seminary.
To view the full episode of Realfaith TV, go to www.realfaithtv.com/videos/facing-death-gods-time.[[In-content Ad]]