Thirty-Sixth Anniversary of Priesthood, April 9, 1983: Poem, “Before my limbs fail”


Before my limbs fail


The entwined roots of ordained generations

Steady my posture

At the rock of sacrifice

As my body becomes unfeigned presence


I extend my arms from my trunk

As sturdy limbs from an old oak

Reaching to lift up broken souls

The snapped twigs fallen upon earth


My two branches exposing

Thirty-six rings if cut

Fixed naturally with palms toward the sky

To catch grace as raindrops

For my beggar’s lips

Parched from unanswered pleas


My arms outstretched endure the weighty lives

Of sojourners hollowed out by sorrow

Or seekers rotting by disease or grief


Before my limbs fail

The yearning of the orphan

Or the cry of the widow

My heart longs for springtime


So once more standing in cruciform

I sing of healing and exhale for justice

Crying out on behalf of the starving

Over today’s bread




Doc - Jun 15, 2012 3-08 PM

Saturday April 9, 1983 John and Rosemary Raab Bishop William McManus

8 thoughts on “Thirty-Sixth Anniversary of Priesthood, April 9, 1983: Poem, “Before my limbs fail”

  1. Thank you, Fr. Rob, for 36 years of giving your heart and soul to help us find the love, compassion and acceptance of Jesus through your own love, compassion and acceptance of us all, especially my brother, Peter Curtin.
    God bless and keep you.

  2. Oh, what a precious, joy filled picture and such proud parents! Congratulations and thank you for answering God’s call to serve. Al and I are so grateful we are recipients of this grace. May God continue to bless you for the next 36 years !

  3. Father Ron, Heartfelt congratulations on this your anniversary! What a gift you are to me and so many countless others!!!! Fraternally, jack stoegerCardinal Manning House of Prayer for Priests

  4. Such a meaningful metaphor to express your reflection of the 36 fruitful years of growing in the rootedness of your vocation–rooted in soil often frozen in winter’s grip, or parched in drought, but then moistened in time by grace for the next growth ring. Gratitude for all that you have shared, and prayers for the harvest to come. You bless us richly. A

  5. Dear Ron,

    That was such a blessed day for me, to be present at your ordination and first mass! I’ll always remember that little article in the South Bend Tribune when we made our first profession, it read: “Raab Boy To Take Holy Vows”. You are still that “Raab Boy” in my heart, the same as when we were 18 just starting out on our formation journey at St. Joe Hall! Remember that story about “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein? That story is similar to the metaphor in your poem! Thanks for 36 years of your priesthood!

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