Homily for the Funeral of Fr. Connie Ramirez SAC – Fr. Michael O’Sullivan SAC

The following is the homily delivered by Michael O’Sullivan at the funeral Mass of Fr. Connie:

“Good day to you all, dear brothers and sisters in the faith.

I welcome you his family, friends and former parishioners here today as we gather to say ‘adios’, or farewell, to our confrere, our brother, our uncle and our dear friend. The word ‘adios’ expresses much better than the poor English word ‘farewell’ what we are doing here today, we are saying to Fr Connie ‘adios’, which means ‘may you go to God’. This is our confident belief and our Christian hope, that Fr Connie has indeed gone to God after 91 and a half years here on this blessed earth. 

Connie was a man of this earth, born here in Texas, and he was a man of God, a man who had his eyes fixed on God, on the eternal God, throughout his long life. I am a fellow Pallottine, an Irish Pallottine, but I came to know Connie late in life as our missionary paths took different directions, and in the three years that I have known him I came to see that he was a man of God, a man of goodness and kindness and with a sense of humour.

Connie’s life as a priest, as a Pallottine, started here in Texas in 1953, he met some of the first Pallottine missionaries who came to the area and he identified with them, with their spirit, and wanted to catch something of it and in talking with them he sensed over time a call to dedicate his life to the service of the Gospel. He applied to join the Pallottines and back in 1954 Connie left his family and embarked on a journey, a long journey to far away Ireland. Perhaps he did not know it but he was to spend the next 13 years there before he had an opportunity to travel home. He started his Pallottine journey as a Brother and at the end of his novitiate he made his First Consecration as a Pallottine on September 12th 1956; in the following years while he worked hard and happily as a Pallottine Brother he felt that God was calling him to the priesthood and applied to the superiors and they agreed that he could study for the priesthood. Back at that time it was necessary for him to repeat his novitiate year – and for those of you who don’t know what that is, it is a year of study and reflection and could be a very tough and demanding year, but Connie went ahead and completed the second novitiate, he completed his studies and was ordained to the priesthood on 18th June 1967 – just before his 40th birthday, and he was ordained in St Joseph’s Church, Lubbock, by Bishop Lawrence de Falco, Bishop of Amarillo Diocese. 

Fr Connie spent the following 36 years in full and active priestly ministry here in the state of Texas, a priest dedicated to his people and to the work that God had entrusted to him. By all accounts he was a man with a passion for ministry and for the people. He was open to the requests of the Pallottine superiors and during the course of his years in ministry he was appointed to Abilene, Brownfield, St Joseph’s Lubbock, St Brendan’s Stephenville which also included Comanche, and from there Granbury and the communities in Dublin, Deleon and Glen Rose too, and to Weatherford. I am sure he and his fellow Pallottines covered many miles in the course of each week and month. Tireless workers for the Lord. 

Fr Connie became pastor in St James’ Seminole and also took responsibility for Seagraves and while he was there he built a beautiful new church in Seminole which was opened in 1982.

Fr. Connie returned as Pastor of St. Joseph’s, Lubbock, in September 1984 where he had celebrated his First Mass in 1967. Within a few years Fr. Connie had supervised the building of a new parish hall, twelve new classrooms, and a gymnasium.

In November 1995 it was observed that he was not in good shape, health-wise, and that a change to a smaller parish might be considered for him and on 1st January 1997 Fr. Connie became pastor of St. Patrick’s, Lubbock, and also of the quasi-parish of Our Lady Queen of Apostles in New Deal, it was not long before he organized the refurbishment of the sanctuary area of the church, provided a new gathering area, and installed new stained-glass windows. On 11th June 2003, after a total of thirty-six years priestly ministry, Fr. Connie Ramirez retired from St. Patrick’s, Lubbock. But as you all know Fr Connie did not retire fully, he continued to minister among the people of this city on a weekly basis doing supply ministry, and celebrating Sunday Masses in the churches up until a few years ago. Truly a man dedicated to the ministry the Lord had entrusted to him. 

During his long and fruitful life Fr Connie saw many changes, many developments, it is recorded that in the summer of 1970, when he was Assistant Pastor in St. Joseph’s, Lubbock, a tornado devastated large areas of Lubbock. In the aftermath of the tornado together with his brother Pallottines he worked hard to ease the sense of loss among the parishioners. St. Joseph’s Church and Rectory were unroofed. 

The seeds of Fr Connie’s life as a Pallottine were sown in 1953 and they continued to grow and bear fruit in the 65 years that followed. He leaves a legacy of a life well lived, a legacy of many faith-filled years of ministry and service, and above all the witness of a man of God, faithful to his prayer, faithful to his daily Mass in the little oratory of our home on Freemont Avenue. We say ‘Adios Padre Cornelio, seguros en la confianza que estas ahora en la presencia del Dios quien te creo y quien te llamo a servirlo. Que descanse en paz.’

Connie was proud of his family, his large family, and I know that you were close to him, each in his or her own way, and on behalf of the Pallottines I thank you for your support of him. In a special way his niece Rosa played a large part in his life, and I thank you Rosa for all you were to him, and I know that with your children and grandchildren you delighted his heart and brought joy to his daily life. On behalf of the Pallottines I would like to express our gratitude to you his friends here in Lubbock, even though he was far from his Pallottine Community he was in safe hands. Thank you for your love, care and concern for Fr Connie.” 

May his good soul rest in peace.

Fr. Michael O’Sullivan SAC