A Deacon Pioneer Retires 46 Years After Ordination

A Deacon Pioneer Retires 46 Years After Ordination May 1, 2019
by Jennifer Kedik / Today’s Catholic

God love him. From Today’s Catholic: 

Deacon Kevin Ranaghan, one of the first permanent deacons in the modern history of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, delivered his last homily at St. Bavo Parish, Mishawaka, April 28. Because he has served there for 34 years, a few tears flowed as he expressed gratitude to God, his gifted and supportive wife Dorothy, the four bishops and five pastors under which he has served and “the people of God at St. Bavo’s.”

“This is such a warm, friendly, caring parish,” said Deacon Ranaghan. “It’s hard to say goodbye.”

The feeling is mutual. Longtime parish secretary Sue Alwine called him a “sweet man with a delightful personality, always a joy to work with. He’s part of the Bavo family, and we’ll really miss his presence.”

Gus Zuehlke, in charge of faith formation at St. Bavo, said, “I will miss Kevin Ranaghan a lot as our deacon. He has proven himself a marvelously committed servant of the Lord. He’s a superlative preacher who brings the Gospel to ordinary people’s lives with such grace and dignity. He and Dorothy together have done a great job of witnessing Christian family life to our parish. And I will miss his singing of the ‘Exultet’ on Holy Saturday.”

Along with his wife, who is a teacher, theologian and author, the Ranaghans helped train three classes — about 15 permanent deacons — for the diocese at the Apostolic Institute in the early 1970s. Most have since died, retired or moved out of state, but Deacon Brian Miller is still at St. Anthony de Padua Parish, South Bend.

Bishop Leo A. Pursley ordained Deacon Ranaghan in 1973. He is grateful for Bishop Pursley’s wisdom and foresight in approving implementation of formation for the permanent diaconate in this diocese so soon after the reforms of Vatican II.

Deacon Ranaghan holds a Ph.D. in theology from the University of Notre Dame. He loves to prepare and deliver homilies. About once a month during his tenure at St. Bavo, he would give all the weekend homilies, which was a great support to the busy pastors. Father Jim Shafer, who served at St. Bavo for 13 years, found it “extremely valuable. Having him preach once a month gave me and the people a break, and his homilies were always excellent.”

Father Barry England, the pastor at St. Bavo for 15 years, agreed. “He’s a faith-filled person who was very supportive of me and the parish. I certainly wish him God’s blessings in his well-deserved retirement.”

An appreciative Deacon Ranaghan joked, however, during the homily on his last Sunday at the parish that, “The CD of’ ‘Kevin’s 50 Great Homily Hits’ will not be available after this Mass.”

There’s much more. Read it all. 


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