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Recovering seminarian hopes to return to seminary

Dr. Joseph Chan thanks well-wishers for prayers, letters during his rehabilitation

Published: June 27, 2013   
Dr. Joseph Chan (center) takes his first steps May 30 during rehabilitation treatment in St. Louis for injuries suffered in a March 10 car crash.

Dr. Joseph Chan, 48, a second-year theology student from Fort Smith, has a message for all who have been praying for his recovery following his March car wreck.

“Thank you all for your support and prayers,” he said. “It is the people of God who inspire me to where I am now in my recovery. Thank you.”

Communicating via e-mail with Arkansas Catholic, Chan also said that he hopes to return to his studies at St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana and resume his march toward priestly ordination in the Diocese of Little Rock.

“I hope to be able to continue my seminary studies, realistically, in the spring of 2014,” he said. “I have slowly accepted God’s will in my life. Prayer and hope and that sense of purpose, and the global power of prayer and love from all the faithful, inspire me to keep going.”

Chan suffered multiple injuries in a one-car crash outside of Rolla, Mo., March 10. The accident left him with multiple musculoskeletal fractures and traumatic injuries, traumatic brain injury, internal abdominal and pelvic hemorrhage, hearing loss and visual changes. Since the accident, he has undergone more than 15 surgeries and procedures at Mercy Hospital St. Louis.

Following the battery of operations, Chan has received treatment for nearly three months, gradually transitioning to skilled nursing care and rehabilitation at Mercy Rehabilitation Hospital St. Louis in Chesterfield, Mo.

The latter phase entailed an intensive regimen of three-hour rehab sessions, six days a week. During this period, he relearned how to stand, walk with a walker and perform other functions as well as daily living activities. He completed the acute rehab regimen June 14 and now moves into outpatient self-rehabilitation exercise phase, something that may be a part of life from now on.

“They say that we all rehabilitate for a lifetime since the brain is so dynamic and we learn everyday,” he said.

Before joining the seminary in 2010, Chan was an internist trained in hospice and palliative care medicine. He was scheduled to be ordained a priest in 2015.

Chan is facing two more surgeries on the immediate horizon and then is hopeful about returning to his hometown in July. He said throughout the ordeal, he has been aware of the outpouring of support from the Arkansas faithful.

“I read letters, cards, e-mails from all over as long as I am able to tolerate mentally and physically,” he said. “Thank you for all the prayers.”


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