Throwback Thursday: Father Turon

Much of this 1958 issue of the Catholic newsletter The Torch was devoted to Father Luke’s work in Pakistan, including this full-page photograph, which looks like it could be a fresco on the wall of a church in an Italian village.

I’d always known we had at least one Roman Catholic priest in the family. I also knew that my relatives seemed exceptionally proud to be related to him. Lately, my mother passed on some documents about his life, and I discovered more in my genealogical research. And now, despite being a less-than-devout Catholic myself, I have to admit that I am proud to be related to this exceptional man, too.

I’m related to Father Luke on my mother’s side, through his mother, Olympia Gallia, who was the older sister of my great aunt, Ellen Gallia Tomassoni.

Born in 1921 as Louis Joseph Turon, he also took the name Luke — though I’m uncertain if that was a confirmation name, a name he took when he was ordained, or something else. In my family tree, until I know otherwise, I’m referring to him as Louis Joseph Luke Turon.

Before he became Father Turon, Louis became Doctor Turon, and served as an Army doctor in Japan during the occupation after World War II. In 1955, he was ordained to the priesthood, making him Father Luke Turon, one of only sixteen U.S. Catholic priests at the time who were also fully qualified physicians. He served for 45 years at a mission in Pakistan, starting a hospital and ministering to the people’s medical needs. After returning to the United States, he was sent to Ohio, where he passed away in 2013 at the age of 92.

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