Father Philip Grant dies at 65

CHARLESTON — Father Philip Grant, the parochial vicar at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist known for his thoughtful homilies, died Dec. 30 at age 65. The funeral Mass was celebrated Jan. 3 at the Cathedral. Burial was at Holy Cross Cemetery.

Father Grant was born Oct. 18, 1940, in Boston, Mass., a son of Wilmon B. and Mary W. McConville Grant. He was a graduate of California Coast University in Santa Ana and received a bachelor of science degree and a master’s degree, both in business administration. After retiring from a career in sales, he was accepted into the diaconate formation program in the Archdiocese of Atlanta in 1999, but answered the call to the priesthood in the Diocese of Charleston. He was a graduate of Blessed John XXIII Seminary in Weston, Mass., and was ordained June 5, 2004, at the Cathedral.

His ministry included assignments as parochial vicar and administrator pro tem at Our Lady Star of the Sea in North Myrtle Beach. He was assigned to the Cathedral in January 2005.

“Father Phil Grant gave me and his brother priests a great witness to hope in his approach to death,” said Bishop Robert J. Baker. “He always carried that spirit in the midst of the terminal illness he faced and most especially in his last days in the prayerful, positive spirit he witnessed to us. He actually asked that the prayers of commendation be prayed so that he could hear them before he lost consciousness. He taught us all how to face life and how to face death, knowing the Lord is close to us always.”

Msgr. Joseph R. Roth, pastor of the Cathedral, said that Father Grant’s whole outlook was positive.

“His way at looking at death was different from what you would expect; he wasn’t afraid,” he said. “He wanted to offer his life to the Lord for vocations to the priesthood. He was looking at it as a journey; he was going from here to there and he was happy about that. You almost wanted to say ‘OK, let’s walk together.’ It’s very sad when you lose somebody but he was very positive about his entrance into heaven.”

Msgr. Roth said that Father Grant loved being a priest and spent a lot of time preparing his homilies each week.

“Before he was ill there was never a call he wouldn’t take; he was happy to do it,” he said. “He had a tremendous love for the priesthood and a tremendous faith.”

Father Grant is survived by three sisters, Mary G. Davenport of Avon, Mass., Patricia G. Hurley of Denver, Colo. and Madonna G. Davey of Easton, Mass.; two brothers, Kevin C. Grant of Vero Beach, Fla. and Wilmon F. Grant of New Hampshire.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to: Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Building Fund, 120 Broad St., Charleston, SC 29401.