Mass of Christian Burial for Deacon Raymond O. Roderique
December 6, 2014
by Rev. Salvador Añonuevo, Pastor
After listening to Colleen and her words of remembrance, and having the privilege of getting to know Deacon Ray for five years and five months, I now understand why the very first question that a girl from the second grade faith formation class asked me in my first few months as pastor. “Where do you go to become a DeaconRay?”
In the gospel we just heard, St. Matthew the evangelist related to us the occasion where Jesus said, “Father, Lord of heaven and earth, to you I offer praise, for what you have hidden from the learned and the clever, you have revealed to the merest children.”
That child who asked me that question surely has wisdom. She has not even heard the account of Colleen, or the words of remembrance given last night by his son. As both of them said: their dad had a rough start in life. His mother died when he was twelve. His father became an alcoholic after that. Their family home burned down. His siblings were split between foster care and the relatives. He surely had every reason to complain to everybody about his misfortunes.
But instead of wallowing in self-pity, he used whatever God-given abilities he had to improve his life. With only an eighth-grade education, he earned the most prestigious title of Senior Principal Engineer, something typically reserved for a handful of engineers with doctoral degrees.
What is even more amazing is what happened to his spiritual life. He turned from a man with no religion to become a deacon in the Roman Catholic Church. In fact, he belonged to one of the first groups ordained to the Permanent Diaconate in the United States. The first group was ordained in the early seventies. He was ordained in 1978. The other day, Deacon Chris learned that no permanent deacon who served or is currently serving in the Diocese of Richmond was ordained before 1978. So Deacon Ray was the most senior deacon in our diocese until his death, six days ago.
Here in Holy Name of Mary, for many years, the word “deacon” was synonymous with the name “Deacon Ray.” I wasn’t surprised, therefore, before our own Deacon Eddie was ordained, when one of the children in the faith formation class asked me, “When will Mr. Eddie become a DeaconRay?”
Going back to the question asked by the second grader: Where DO you go to become a DeaconRay? Well, Deacon Ray answered it himself for me. For that little girl, he explained the process as best a second grader could understand. But for us adult Christians, he used a more theological approach. He said, “There is only one way you should go. To Jesus. He is not only the way, he is the truth, and the life.” And he added, “Ask the help of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She will lead you to Jesus even if you attempt to move away from him.”
When Deacon Ray first noticed the GPS in my car on one of our many morning drives to the Koffee Kup for breakfast, he said, “I also have one like that. But the GPS in my life is the Blessed Mother. She always leads me safely home to her son, Jesus.”
Deacon Ray, it has been a long and bumpy ride. But as your GPS would say, “You have arrived.”