Following Deacon Ron’s death on Tuesday night, 11 August, we opened an online ‘remembrance book’.
You can read here the contributions made by friends and colleagues, followed by Fr James’ homily, given at Deacon Ron’s Requiem Mass on 27 August 2020 at the Church of the Sacred Heart, North Walsham.
So sad to hear the news of Deacon Ron’s passing. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Inge, Ron’s family and many friends who mourn his passing. We shall always be grateful for Ron’s spiritual guidance, and particularly for the support he and Inge gave to our granddaughters Kerry and Lauren when they visited Poland at World Youth day. May Deacon Ron’s soul rest In heaven’s peace, and may God comfort and console all who mourn his passing.
Gerry and Margaret Francis
I’ve known (Deacon) Ron for just under fifteen years, from the start of my secretarial post at the presbytery. In those early days when, from time to time, he rang, I soon appreciated his kindly manner and often the sound advice he would give me in that soft Irish voice. He proved to be, together with Inge, a much valued and long standing friend. His scriptural knowledge was extensive and always coupled with great understanding. He is greatly missed.
Clare and I always felt comfortable in Ron’s presence. His sermons were thoughtful, questioning and always loving. We felt that he knew the complexities of the human condition so his words were subtle and nuanced. When he was at Our lady of Refuge we looked forward to our Saturday/Sunday visits and after mass he would become the fellow gardener and talk with warmth of his successes and failures. A lovely man who has a permanent place in our hearts. Angela (Clare’s) sister felt that he was someone she could always turn to. May he rest in well-deserved peace.
Tony & Clare O’Sullivan
Very sad to hear of Ron’s death. Working with him as Director of the Permanent Diaconate has many good memories. I shall remember him, Inge and the family at Mass this Week.
Ron at Cromer. As Parish Priest of Cromer I was delighted when Ron moved into the area and offered his services both on the altar and in the wider range of parish activities. He was an active helper in the parish and soon began to make himself very useful by his willingness to organise a number of groups which studied scripture and church doctrine – especially the documents of the Second Vatican council. He was a great support to me and was always ready to listen to my requests and give wise advice from his many years in the Diocanate. He was, I believe, one of the first permanent Deacons to be ordained after the restoration of that ministry after Vat ll. I am sorry that under the present circumstances I may not be able to be present at his funeral Mass, but I have already offered Mass for him. I pray too for Inge and the family as they come to terms with their loss. May he rest in peace.
(Fr.) Peter Brown
It was with a great sense of sadness and loss that we heard of the death of Deacon Ron. We remember him with great love and affection, from the time when we first met him and Inge at the Benedictine oblate meetings in Norwich. Later, we attended his Blessed Charles de Foucauld prayer group meetings at their home in Aldborough. Since then we have shared many meals together and have always been very much entertained by his wealth of wonderful stories from his very interesting life. Deacon Ron loved the Church and took every opportunity of sharing his faith with us all. He and Inge gave a great witness by their long and happy life together. He will be very much missed in the parish.
Tony & Betty Dady.
Deacon Ron was a warm, funny and gifted preacher. He gave thought provoking and memorable sermons and talks and many of the images and thoughts he shared remain in our prayer reflections. We pray for Inge and all Ron’s family and friends.
Simon and Mary (Cromer)
In Fr Peter Brown’s time, Ron welcomed a Monday morning Eucharist gathering. He spotted me, a newcomer, was thrilled that Pauline and I had been married at Our Lady of Refuge in 2004, with our tribes of grandchildren – she is a parishioner of St Martin’s In Overstrand — and was hugely supportive. I gave him a treasured card from Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk in Bruges when he and Inge and a group of parishioners, went for a visit, which he reported with joy – Beguines and all! A true pastor. R.I.P.
John & Pauline Wall, Overstrand
We remember a very kind and gentle man of much experience and geniality, and send our heartfelt sympathy to his family with our love and prayers.
Peter and Val Bowie
One of my most surprising encounters with the Revd Ron was at the crematorium at St Faith’s. A popular member of Fitness Together had died and the funeral service was at St Faith’s with Ron officiating. He saw me and I saw him and I don’t know who was the more surprised. I last saw him at a pub in Aldborough when on a Parish walk with Deacon Andrew Neate. He loved to preach and it was a red letter day when he came over to St Joseph’s and gave one of his delightful homilies: Father Tony welcomed him as he found preaching a trial. Ron was a very worthy successor to Saint Stephen.
Homily given by Fr James Walsh at the Requiem Mass for Deacon Ron, at the Church of the Sacred Heart, North Walsham, on Thursday 27 August 2020.
We have already heard a family insight into Deacon Ron’s life and some of you will have read his biography on the diocesan website. I want to speak about the Mass we are celebrating this morning and what lies behind the words and ritual. Let’s begin with the first reading we heard from St John which was chosen by Ron. It speaks of the love that the Father has lavished on us. Familiar words which often pass us by. Yet they are at the heart of our searching for God and God’s searching for us. This dynamic allows us to claim the rights and the privileges of being children of God – and that, says St John, is what we are. I can see why those words spoke to Ron. Each of us is called to reflect in our words and actions on that divine love which, as Dante says, moves the sun and other stars. Ron did that in his own unique way – as a husband and father, in his professional life and as an ordained minister of the Church. He embodied so well the primary role of a deacon which is to exercise a ministry of charity.
One of the aspects of Ron’s pastoral ministry was his care of the bereaved. If I asked him to take a funeral, I knew that he would do more that preside at the service. He would spend time with the family, help them to plan the funeral ceremony and gently lead them to a Christian approach to the death of their loved one. St John goes on to say – what we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed. What we do know, he says, is that we shall see God as he really is. To see the face of God was not just a pious phrase for Ron, it was for him the purpose and goal of life.
Our understanding of death defines each one of us. For many death is final; it marks the end of a life with no prospect of any kind of future existence. It is not surprising that this mindset sees death as an unwelcome subject of conversation.
The Church gives us a different and infinitely more hopeful vision of death. It provides a kind of roadmap for the whole of our life that extends into eternity. It is centred on what we call the Paschal Mystery – the death and resurrection of Christ. ‘Lord, by your Cross and Resurrection you have set us free’ we will say after the Consecration. The death of Christ sets us free from sin; his Resurrection opens for us a new life as adopted children of God. The Paschal Candle reminds us of this. It is a powerful symbol of the Risen Christ present at the heart of the Church and its liturgy. Our lives as adopted children of God begin at our first death which takes place at Baptism. This is when we die to sin and, plunged into the life of the Trinity, we rise to a new life of grace. The Church, as mother, accompanies to the end the child she bore in the womb of the font, the Catechism teaches us. It goes on to say: ‘She offers to the Father the child of his grace, and she commits to the earth, in hope, the seed of the body that will rise in glory. The seeds of resurrection that are sown in baptism are watered by the sacraments and nourished by the Eucharist’. In other words Christ, as Head of the Church, walks with us on our life’s journey, and gives us a positive vision of hope that embraces our final Passover. You’ll never walk alone, as we say in my native city of Liverpool, since we also make our journey in the company of our brothers and sisters in the family of the faith. This is what today is about. A funeral Mass is more that sharing memories – important though these are. For Ron the day of his death begins the fulfillment of his new birth in Baptism. The Church, who, as Mother, brought about his rebirth as a child of God, accompanied him in his life’s journey and at the journey’s end surrenders him into the Father’s hands. She offers to God the Father the child of his grace confident that his body will rise in glory. This service reminds us that we live in communion with the one who has fallen asleep in the Lord and we pray for him and with him. At the end of the service today the Final Commendation will mark Ron’s departure from this life and his separation from us. We ask God to purify his child of his sins and to admit him to the heavenly kingdom. Together with Ron’s family we accompany him on his earthly departure asking the martyrs to welcome him and the angels to lead him to paradise. For us death is the gateway into a new life with God when, as St Paul tells us ‘I shall know as fully as I am known’. Ron, friend and co-worker, may you rest in peace and rise in glory.