Rev. Ronald Russell Tripi, C.S.C., 78, died Thursday (Oct. 31, 2013) at Holy Cross House, Notre Dame, Ind.
Fr. Tripi was born May 14, 1935, in Buffalo, N.Y., to Joseph and Jenny (Castiglia) Tripi. He graduated from St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute, Buffalo, in 1953 before attending the University of Notre Dame. After his freshmen year, he entered the Congregation of Holy Cross' Sacred Heart Novitiate in Jordan, Minn., on Aug. 15, 1954, and made his First Vows a year later on Aug. 16, 1955. Fr. Tripi then returned to Moreau Seminary at Notre Dame. He graduated in 1958 with a bachelor's degree in philosophy and then studied theology for four years at Holy Cross College, Washington, D.C., where he received a master's degree in sacred doctrine. He professed Final Vows on Aug. 16, 1959, and was ordained to the priesthood on June 6, 1962.
From the time of his Ordination until 1985, Fr. Tripi served in Holy Cross Foreign Missions in the East Pakistan/Bengal region, which is now Bangladesh. Fr. Tripi studied language and culture for a year at the Oriental Institute in Barisal City and also served as pastor and associate pastor of various parishes in the region, including Corpus Christi Parish in Jalchatra. From 1963 to 1966, he served as an assistant and teacher at Little Flower Seminary in Bandhura. In 1986, Fr. Tripi returned to the United States and served as associate pastor at St. Stanislaus Parish in South Bend, Ind., for 15 years. In 2001, Fr. Tripi moved to Christ the King Catholic Church, South Bend. He has served as associate pastor there for the past 12 years until he moved to Holy Cross House on Oct. 29, 2013. While at Christ the King, Fr. Tripi assisted with Masses at nursing homes in the area, visited with the homebound parishioners and served as chaplain to the elementary grades at Christ the King School. Fr. Tripi celebrated his 50th Jubilee in 2012.
Fr. Tripi's parents and his brothers, Carl and Howard, are deceased. He is survived by a sister-in-law, Wendy King (widow of Howard) and several loving cousins, nieces and nephews.
Visitation will be 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday (Nov. 5, 2013) at Christ the King Catholic Church, 52473 S.R. 933, South Bend. The Rosary will be prayed at 7 p.m., followed by the Wake Service at 7:30 p.m. The Funeral Mass will be 3:30 p.m. Wednesday (Nov. 6, 2013) at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at the University of Notre Dame. Kaniewski Funeral Home is handling the funeral arrangements.
Memorial contributions for Fr. Tripi in support of the foreign mission work of the Congregation of Holy Cross can be made to: Holy Cross Mission Center, P.O. Box 543, Notre Dame, IN 46556-0543 or online atDonate.holycrossmissions.org.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z10mAvw8NZ4 "Have something to say, say it, and sit down." "Speak slowly and clearly so everyone in the church can hear you." "Don't sweat the small stuff." These "Tripi-isms" and many others have been going through my mind for the last couple of weeks or so. Fr. Ron wasn't much for long homilies and he didn't like people gilding the lily by saying how wonderful someone was and never mentioning their relationship with Jesus Christ. In light of his standards, I'll do my best, but even if I could ask his opinion, I know he would say his automatic response "whatever!"
We priests here at Christ the King went to many functions together, whether meetings or fundraising dinners, conventions, prayer or some combination of them all. Regardless of how anyone might have been feeling about a particular event, whenever we pulled up to a function, I would always say "now remember, Fr. Ron, our objective here is NOT to be the last ones to leave." He always responded with something like "I'm not running for governor" or "Father, as long as St. Peter knows my name, that's all that matters." But, at the end of the evening, invariably I would have to almost drag him away because it seemed like he knew everyone in the building.
How happy he would be to see everyone together here in God's house! But seeing you all here with our Lord would have been the sole source of his happiness. He would have tried in every way he could to deflect attention away from himself. Nothing changed who he was he was the same with everyone, steady as a rock, unshaken in his faith in Jesus Christ. That was clear throughout his brief illness he didn't change anything about what he said or who he said it to, no matter what situation he was in. When he first got to the hospital, he was in the emergency room for much of that first day and so of course we got to know a lot of people that came in and out nurses, aides, doctors, janitorial staff. It didn't matter what their position was, Fr. Ron wanted to know their name, what parish they were going to and how they were related to someone that he knew who was related to someone who had a connection with the west side of South Bend. I remember when one woman came in Fr. Ron said "I know you!" and she responded "I should hope so, you witnessed my marriage 17 years ago!"
I must say, I tired quickly of trying to remember every detail about every person that came in, so I asked him why he always did that. And he said something that will stick with me for the rest of my life, I think: "you can always learn something from everyone you meet, if you take the time." And that was the key, he always had time for people, caring for them and bringing them the Sacraments. He was never in a huge rush because he was secure that he was about the business of Jesus Christ. On his bedroom door, there's a quote from St. Ignatius of Antioch: "A Christian is not his own master; his time is God's." (St. Ignatius of Antioch to Polycarp)
Maybe that was why it seemed odd that he didn't want visitors or phone calls in the hospital. I know that was difficult for many of you, but that was just Fr. Ron. Even when he knew it was a very serious situation, it didn't change what he had to say or what his attitude was. He always had complete trust that God would provide and everything would turn out the way it was supposed to.
When we knew things had taken a turn for the worse, he told me, "I worked hard in my lifetime and I'm tired. I don't need an extra 30, 100 days on this earth." I was a bit stubborn, and asked him "But Ron, what if they say you could live for 10 more years?" And his response was perfect: "What, are they going to put that in writing like I'm a muffler or something?" He didn't need that; he was ready to go to the Father's house. He knew the hope that comes from the Cross, the hope that Saint Paul speaks of in his letter to the Romans.
What is hope, after all? It's not just wishful thinking to hope for something means we have already had some experience of it, maybe just a small taste of what the reality is, but a taste nonetheless. As people of faith, each of us hope in the Lord because we have experienced Him here on earth, in our daily lives and in the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and so we have at least a taste of what is to come at the heavenly banquet. In fact, I remember Ron stopping by the chapel whenever he passed by just to spend a minute or two in conversation with the Lord. These momentary visits were the simple actions of real hope. Fr. Ron had hope in the Cross, because he experienced Christ in the joy and suffering of so many people, including his own.
Again, from Saint Paul: "Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." As Fr. Ron would say, the rest is small stuff, really. There's much I could tell you about his ministry here at Christ the King or at St. Stanislaus or Bangladesh. Many, many folks have talked to me or emailed me, including the pastor of Corpus Christi in Jalchatra, Bangladesh. At last count, there were well over 100 emails, cards and phone calls. Everyone remembers him and his great witness of faith. And really, that's the most important thing we have to remember. The details are good for us to know, but whenever we asked Ron about any of his previous ministries, he would always say "that was long ago and far away." All we really need to say is that he loved everyone and delighted in knowing them, because he saw Christ in them.
He always trusted in God. Even though the end came quickly, he was ready for the Lord to bring him home. I am quite sure that when he reaches Heaven, he will be met by our Lord, who will say to him "I know you! Welcome home, Fr. Ron!"
Funeral Homily by Rev. Tom Jones, C.S.C.
Nov. 6, 2013
To the family members and friends of Fr. Ron Tripi, we express our condolences and offer our prayers to you at this time of sadness. Your beloved brother-in-law, your uncle, was also our dear brother in religious life in Holy Cross for over 58 years and we share your sorrow and loss. The sick and the dying also mourn his passing, for he was their dear friend and special "apostle."
To be asked to speak at the wake or the funeral Mass of a fellow Holy Cross religious is a humbling experience. You reflect on your own mortality and how far short one's own life fails to measure up to the example in the life of the deceased. However, the purpose of the funeral homily is not to canonize the deceased, but to show how his or her imperfect life was caught up in the saving Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is "good news" for us all who still must struggle with imperfection and sin on our own journey home.
To paraphrase Pope Francis in his All Saints homily, salvation belongs to God alone. It is He who saves us, not our own good works. It is God who takes us by the hand like a father when our life comes to an end and takes us home to Heaven where our family now lives.This is cause for hope. "Hope is like yeast; it makes your soul rise."
It is not a mere coincidence that Fr. Ron died on Oct. 31, which happened to be the 120th anniversatry of the death of Fr. Edward Sorin, the founder of this great University dedicated to Our Lady. There is much dissimilarity between the two to be sure. Both come from different eras, backgrounds and cultures. Nonetheless, hypothetically speaking, if it were possible for these two Ron Tripi and Edward Sorin to have lunch together, I am sure that their conversation would be continuous and animated.
These two men shared much in common. Both were Holy Cross religious; both loved Jesus deeply; both left home and served as missionaries in a foreign land; both had to learn a strange language; both were teachers and pastors; both had a strong devotion to our Blessed Mother; and both were loved by the people they served. Most of all, however, Fr. Sorin and Fr. Ron embraced our Holy Cross charism of education, parish, mission. Education without pastoral care serves only the mind, while ignoring a person's heart and soul. Pastoral care without education produces uncatechised adults, unable to engage culture and society with the saving message of the Gospel.Education and parish, without mission, can become narcissistic and self-serving. Fr. Sorin and Fr. Tripi, each in their own unique and quirky way, made these three education, parish and mission work together in their live, and we are all better people because of their effort.
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly. To heal the broken-hearted; to proclaim liberty to captives." (Isaiah) How many broken hearts were healed? How many times were glad tidings of encouragement preached to "the little ones"? How many were freed from the captivity of sin because of Fr. Ron's many years of ministry? Fr. Ron served the Church in Bangladesh during a most tumultuous time. He did parish work and even taught in a seminary, but most of all, Fr. Ron took care of people. He heard countless confessions, said numerous Masses, anointed the sick and buried the dead. Fr. Warner mentioned to me that during the war of independence in the early 1970s, when Bangladesh broke off from Pakistan and the Pakistani soldiers were hunting down civilians, Fr. Ron would hide them, feed them, keep them out of harm's way. It got so dangerous for him that on one occasion when the Pakistani soldiers were looking for him, Fr. Ron hid for two days in a village water tower until the danger passed. Now I know why Fr. Ron had distinctive limp. It was not easy to climb in and out of a water tank.
"They went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs." (Mark 16) Pope Francis has recently commented that "Those who give themselves to the costly self-denouncing message of the Gospel in the world today will find their faithfulness confirmed in tangible ways. ... Their powerful identification with the poor and the oppressed bears witness to the reality of the power of God's love which prisons and even death cannot extinguish." Many of us who gather today can testify to the signs of goodness we have received from the caring hands and encouraging words of Fr. Ron. The only things I saw him spend money on were small religious articles and St. Andre medals he bought for the sick and dying which he would distribute to them on his visits. A lady from St. Stan's told me the other day that she still has the little wooden cross Fr. Ron gave to her dying mother, which her Mom held tightly till her last breath. She added: "Fr. Ron was there for everyone!"
"If our earthly dwelling, a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in Heaven."(2 Corinthians 4) Christopher died in 1506 and is buried in the Spanish town of Villalodid. There is a large statue in the town's square with Columbus at the top and a lion at the bottom eating the old motto of Spainnon plus ultra nothing more beyond! In fact, the lion has ripped off the wordnonand is eating those three letters so that the sign now reads:plus ultra more beyond!
Fr. Ron always lived his life as a traveler, a sojourner, knowing that his permanent home was not here, whether in Buffalo or Bangladesh or St. Stan's or Christ the King. He believed that there was more beyond.In my last conversation with Fr. Ron in the hospital, he mentioned that he hoped St. Peter doesn't forget his name. I told him: "Don't worry, Ron. We will pray for you and not let St. Peter forget your name."
One day, we will all pass away. May Fr. Ron's example help us all work toward seeing that event with hope and embracing it with the joy of being received by the Lord. Father used to say when someone died: "Now they have all the answers!"
Now you, Ron, have all the answers! Please pray for us so that St. Peter will remember our names, too!