Being priest was ‘everything’ to man ordained two days before he died

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Father Scott Carroll, 46, lost his battle with cancer May 10, just two days after Bishop Leonard P. Blair of Toledo, Ohio, ordained him a priest at the family home in Maumee. Father Carroll is pictured in a 2012 photo. (CNS photo/Laurie Stevens Bertke, Catholic Chronicle)

MAUMEE, Ohio (CNS) — Ordination “meant everything” to Father Scott R. Carroll.

“His dream was to be ordained a priest.” That’s how the 46-year-old priest was remembered by Father Keith Stripe, pastor of his home parish of St. Joseph.

Father Carroll lost his battle with cancer May 10, just two days after Toledo Bishop Leonard P. Blair ordained him a priest at the family home in Maumee.

“He had been totally prepared and called to be a priest, and I saw no reason not to ordain him, even in his last days,” said Bishop Blair. “I’m very proud and happy that he should be numbered among the priests of Toledo.”

Father Carroll had hoped to be ordained with his four classmates at Toledo Rosary Cathedral at the end of June, but because of the severity of his illness, it was decided that he should be ordained sooner, said Msgr. Charles Singler, diocesan director of vocations.

His new ordination date was set for May 10 at the cathedral but was moved up to May 8.

Concelebrating the Mass with Bishop Blair were Msgr. Singler, Father Stripe and Father Kishore Kottana, associate pastor of St. Joseph.

The ordination liturgy was “simply beautiful,” said Father Stripe, describing it as “reminiscent of the early church, when the church was in the house. It was a very intimate ceremony with the bishop, immediate family and a couple of very close friends.”

The priest’s funeral Mass was celebrated May 14 at Rosary Cathedral. At the end of Mass, Bishop Blair announced the creation of the Father Scott Carroll Fund for Seminarian Education and Formation. The fund was created within the Diocese of Toledo’s Catholic Foundation at the suggestion of Father Carroll’s former classmates from Holy Spirit Seminary.

In an interview with the Catholic Chronicle, Toledo’s diocesan newspaper, Father Stripe described Father Carroll as an “unassuming” person who didn’t want to draw attention to himself, noting that even in his last month of battling cancer he was always concerned about someone else and comforting them.

The priest was first diagnosed and treated for melanoma in the summer of 2011, according to his brother Tim. Last December, he learned the cancer had recurred and spread.

“I will always remember the example Scott gave us,” said Deacon Nathan Bockrath, one of Father Carroll’s classmates. “He was never one to complain about his cancer. In times of suffering, he was a witness.”

Before entering the seminary, he taught social studies for 18 years at Swanton Middle School. He had four master’s degrees, including one in educational administration.

The vocation to priesthood was “something that never left him,” said his brother Tim Carroll. “It was always something that he was thinking about.”

He eventually decided to take a leave of absence from work for a year to try the seminary. Once he started down that path, “there was no real indecision,” Tim Carroll said. “He was very passionate about it and there was never really a period where he really looked back from there.”

In his profile on the diocesan vocations website, the then-seminarian wrote: “I consider the vocation of priesthood to be both the most demanding and rewarding thing that God could ever call me to do. It is my duty to find out if this is what is meant for me, to represent Jesus by teaching, learning and just being there for people.”

In his homily at Father Carroll’s ordination, Bishop Blair said he related the priest’s suffering to that of Christ.

“We think of the priest in his ministry in everyday life, but spiritually, the truth is that we are never more priests than when we are hanging with Christ on the cross, because Christ did not offer something outside of himself to the Father, what he offered was himself,” he said.

The bishop felt as if he were “in the presence of Christ hanging on the cross” witnessing the priest’s suffering during his ordination.

Msgr. Singler said the most touching moment in the ceremony was when Bishop Blair walked over to the chair where the newly ordained priest was seated, knelt down, removed his miter and asked for his first blessing.

“Scott did it like he’d been doing it all his life,” said Msgr. Singler. “I was like a proud parent, as a vocation director, that this man that I’d had the privilege of walking with and advocating for in the seminary these last three years, was able to come to this point to become a priest.”

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By Laurie Stevens Bertke, who writes for the Catholic Chronicle, newspaper of the Toledo Diocese.