DUBLIN, Ireland  — An Irish Dominican brother who trained as a doctor is back treating patients with COVID-19.

Brother Chris Gault, who has been studying for the priesthood with the Dominicans, has returned to his native Belfast, Northern Ireland, and donned surgical scrubs to be part of the fight against the virus in the Mater Misericordiae Hospital where he once served.

He graduated from Queen’s University in 2013 and completed foundation training as a doctor, but he left medical life behind when he decided to answer a call to enter the priesthood.

He joined the Order of Preachers, making a profession of vows in 2018, and moved to Dublin to study philosophy as part of his formation.

However, when he heard calls for any available medics to return to the front line to help in the fight against the coronavirus, he decided he had to help.

“I talked to my superiors and they were happy and encouraging,” he said.

“I just volunteered. The trust and the health service (are) undergoing a lot of change. They are adapting to a lot of change in these current circumstances.

“I never wavered and once the backing came, I was happy to go for it,” he said in late April.

“My skills are quite limited in comparison to a lot of my colleagues who I met today and were so welcoming. They have been on the front line now; their training is better than mine,” Gault said.

“I will be looking to support them. They are true heroes. I have a great admiration for them.”

The North Belfast man said it was “pretty strange” being back in scrubs. While admitting there is a learning curve, he said the training “comes back to you.”

“It is rusty, so I am very much in a support position until I get back up to speed and I can help in a more concrete way.”

He said if he had to give people a message, “it would be one of hope.”

“Staff here are committed to beating this thing and they are committed with the help of God. I have no doubt that there is great hope.”

“I would rather be living my religious life in my monastery, praying with my brothers and studying, but this was a response at a time of need,” he added. “It is extraordinary and it is temporary. While it is needed, I am here to help.”