CHARLESTON — June 5 marked a day of beginning for Deacons Philip Grant and Timothy Tebalt as the two men were ordained to the priesthood at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.
Although the two men entered into the same ministry, their lives leading up to that special day were vastly different.
Father Tebalt, 39, answered the call to the priesthood following an eight-year stint as an Army intelligence agent.
“While in the Army, I had this vague sensation that life could be more than what it was at the time,” he said. “I knew that I needed to be a better Christian and draw closer to God, but in doing that I felt led to seminary.”
Father Tebalt found his path at the Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans. As a newly ordained priest, he said that his immediate goal was to “remain faithful to prayer.”
“I know that, being new to this, I will be moved around a lot and be put in some stressful situations, but as long as I stay faithful in my prayer life that will be the key to my success,” he said.
Father Tebalt’s brother, David, said that he was very proud of him.
“We aren’t a Catholic family, but I see Tim’s dedication and know that he is going to make a wonderful priest,” he said.
Unlike Father Tebalt’s family, Father Grant’s mother, Marion, always knew that her son would become a priest.
“I knew from when he was little that this is what he would end up doing,” said the 91-year-old Mrs. Grant. “He really knows how to talk to people.”
Father Grant, 63, said that despite the fact that he felt the call decades earlier, he seemed to be running from the priesthood during his life, but it was always in the back of his mind.
“I entered seminary back in high school, but never finished,” he said. “I took a job working in sales, but after I retired I joined the permanent diaconate in Atlanta.”
Father Grant explained that once he was assigned to South Carolina by the archbishop in Atlanta, he made the decision to do whatever God asked of him. That involved attending Blessed John XXIII Seminary in Weston, Mass.
“We think this is fantastic,” said his brother, Kevin. “He is mature because he has been through the business world. He will bring that maturity into his ministry.”
Bishop Robert J. Baker ordained the men with dozens of their brother priests in attendance, as well as Bishop David B. Thompson. A reception was held in the Cathedral Center where the men were presented with a golden chalice courtesy of the Knights of Columbus.
Father Tebalt will fill his first assignment at St. Joseph in Columbia, and Father Grant is headed to Our Lady Star of the Sea in North Myrtle Beach.