In the summer of 1986, I was part of a team that invited Fr. Ron Lewinski to lead an RCIA retreat at the Julie Penrose Center in Colorado Springs. The Diocese of Colorado Springs was only two years old at that time. I had started school at the University of Notre Dame that summer and flew back to Colorado to help with the retreat. It was difficult to leave summer school for a week and yet I had know idea how the RCIA retreat would change my life.
In June of 1987, I was leaving Colorado for a parish in California. I had all my possessions packed and ready to go to California. On the day before I left, Fr. Ron called me at Sacred Heart Church in Colorado and asked me to interview for a position in the Office for Divine Worship as Director of RCIA for the Archdiocese of Chicago. I told him that I was already assigned to California. He would not take “no” for an answer. I went to my summer session at Notre Dame and interviewed in Chicago with the approval of our Holy Cross provincial. In August of 1987, I moved to Chicago to begin my new position with Fr. Ron and an incredibly talented staff.
Fr. Ron always supported younger people in ministry. I watched him over and over again invite talented musicians, artists, liturgists into the circle of leadership. He wanted to hear the voice of a younger generation and to offer us opportunities to own the Church’s mission. I am so grateful that he offered me the opportunity to be part of the largest office of worship in the world at that time.
Fr. Ron was an instrument and true priest of the Second Vatican Council. He wanted the best for the Church and desired to implement the transformative and significant Rites of Christian Initiation of Adults. He wanted us to find Jesus and to live that mystery with a new heart and vigor. He longed for the Church to be an agent of justice and integrity in our world through our conversion and change.
I was ordained only four years when I joined the Office for Divine Worship. I stood in awe of Ron’s commitment and understanding of the Liturgy. He led with courage and passion even in difficult times. He led us and educated us in faith and with purpose to live the gospel with joy.
I admired Fr. Ron throughout the years and I pray he knew how grateful I was to be part of his staff. Fr. Ron loved to laugh even in the complexities of his role. He supported me and gave me a voice that I still am grateful for today. Now, I publish articles about prayer and service because of Fr. Ron Lewinski. Ron challenged me to be a professional within the Church in the United States.
Fr. Ron, rest in the eternal liturgy, with saints and angels, the grateful voices of praise and love. Jesus, receive our brother, Ron.