Sincere thanks to all of Fr. Bob Ronald’s friends for coming to say good-bye to him at this Mass and to celebrate his wonderful life.
Special thanks to Fr. Bob’s brother Wally who came from the U.S. to be with us on this occasion.
Having lived in the same Jesuit community with Fr. Bob for more than 30 years, I occasionally had the opportunity to attend funerals with him. Sometimes, after a funeral, we would share impressions and try to predict what our own funerals might be like. We both decided that they should be neither too long nor too sad. Fr. Bob didn’t want a lengthy funeral service that might be burdensome for busy people. And while tears are inevitable when we are forced to part with loved ones, Bob felt that there should be more smiles than tears. This is because, as Christians, we are thankful and joyful that our loved one has found eternal peace in the arms of God; and we are happy and grateful for all the gifts our loved one has given us during his or her lifetime.
Bob left us so many gifts; we have very many reasons to be joyful and thankful.
Speaking of gifts, I’m sure many of you have heard Bob say that the two greatest gifts God gave him were polio, which paralyzed much of his body, and the terrible traffic accident that nearly killed him and caused the amputation of one of his legs. These two tragic events are not what most people would consider “gifts from God," and yet Bob always looked on them as his two greatest gifts. Why? If you can understand this, then you understand Bob.
Bob had so much faith in God that he was certain that every event had its good and positive side. He would search for that side until he found it. He always said that the suffering he endured because of polio and his accident taught him so much about life. Dealing with the suffering made him stronger, just as an athlete’s muscles become stronger after being strained and bruised during exercise. Because Bob was able to deal with these enormous challenges and overcome the obstacles they placed before him, he gradually discovered meaning in them. He saw the path that God wanted him to travel and the mission He wanted him to accomplish. Rather than be discouraged and regretful, Bob chose to accept and embrace his handicaps and sufferings. And he discovered that they opened doors for him and gave him opportunities that otherwise he never would have had.