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Garrott comes home to deliver message during four-night retreat

September 24, 2002|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

The Rev. William Garrott kicked off a long-awaited parish mission at St. Mary's Catholic Church Sunday night, asking the timely question: God, Are You Online?

The message during the four-night series is being delivered by a native son of the parish and of Hagerstown.

"We call this a parish retreat or mission but it is special preaching, sort of like a revival," Garrott said as he prepared to take the pulpit Sunday for the first of the 7 p.m. services.

Preaching will be both practical and evangelical with themes from the scriptures, the saints and Pope John Paul II. A musician as well as a priest, Garrott will sing and play guitar and piano-synthesizer during the services.

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Coming to Hagerstown for this parish mission is special for Garrott, who recently moved back East, much closer to home and his family.

"I'm now living at the Dominican Seminary in Washington, D.C., having spent the past eight years in Ohio," he said.

The son of Jack and Ann Garrott, he is the youngest of their eight children. While he said he first thought about entering the priesthood when he was attending St. Maria Goretti High School, he went on to Hagers-town Community College to study physics and chemistry.

"I needed time to explore and discern what was right for me," he said.

Armed with a degree in chemistry from Mount Saint Mary's College in Emmitsburg, Md., Garrott said his first job out of college was in Northern Virginia in the business side of science.

"It was unfulfilling," Garrott said, adding that right away, he began involving himself in youth ministry work through the Youth Apostles Institute.

"When I met the Dominicans, I came to understand that's where God wanted me ... in the priesthood and community life," Garrott said.

He entered the order in 1988 and professed his solemn vows in 1992. The next year, Garrott earned his master of divinity degree and was ordained a priest in Fall River, Mass.

Except for a year of study in Rome, Garrott has been in Ohio until relocating to Washington.

With a religious order such as the Dominicans, one lives with a community of 50 to 60 priests and seminarians.

"I come from a large family so I needed that accountability," Garrott said.

His "job" is vocational director, but Garrott said he is a recruiter who also assesses new priests.

As to his parish mission at St. Mary's, Garrott said he did one other back in 1995 at St. Ann's Catholic Church in Hagerstown.

"This gives me a chance to talk longer than most Catholics are used to," Garrott said. "It all ends Wednesday with a Mass."

Garrott's love of music has led to production of a CD this summer titled "Preacher of Grace." It contains eight original songs and six others that are special to him.

Garrott said he is happy to be close to family again and especially to be in the pulpit of the church where he grew up.

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