The 'One Thing' Is Three

With humor and ease, Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, deftly unlocks the 'one thing,'... Read more


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By Felix Carroll (Dec 11, 2012)
A self-proclaimed spiritual "son of Mary" was raised to the sacred order of the priesthood as a Marian Father of the Immaculate Conception on Saturday, Dec. 8, at Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church in Darien, Ill.

"May God who has begun the good work in you bring it to fulfillment," said Main Celebrant and Ordaining Bishop, the Most Rev. R. Daniel Conlon, Bishop of the Diocese of Joliet, Ill.

Consecrating his life to the Lord for the glory of God and the sanctification of God's people, Deacon Ronald Lynn McBride, MIC, became "Fr. Ronald Lynn McBride, MIC," a man whose reconversion to the Catholic faith bears powerful witness to the mercy of God.

View our photo gallery from the weekend.

"This has been an amazing, amazing journey for me," said Fr. Ron, following the Mass of Ordination. "I have had so many people praying for me, and I am so grateful to God."

Father Ron extends his gratitude to all the Marian Helpers who have been praying for him all these years. Take a look at his message to Marian Helpers:

Father Ron, whose late vocation makes him a stand-out among the Marians' many new priests, was ordained on the most fitting of days: the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. After two broken marriages and a lifestyle far from God, it was the Blessed Virgin Mary — under the title of Our Lady Refuge of Sinners — whom Fr. Ron turned to in prayer in the 1990s during his darkest days. His desperate prayer then to Our Lady was: "Please bring me back to Jesus."

She answered his prayer in ways he could never have imagined.

Promises Before God
Drawn to Mary Immaculate — a model of trust and obedience — Fr. Ron developed an unwavering desire to make present the divine reality of God, a desire that reached its culmination during the Mass for Ordination when he made his priestly promises before God, family, friends, and fellow Marians.

Facing Bishop Conlon, the priest-to-be stood up and promised before God to:

• with the help of the Holy Spirit, discharge without fail the office of the priesthood in the presbyteral rank, as a worthy fellow worker with the Order of Bishops in caring for the Lord's flock;

• exercise the ministry of the Word worthily and wisely, preaching the Gospel and teaching the Catholic faith;

• celebrate faithfully and reverently, in accord with the Church's tradition, the mysteries of Christ, especially the sacrifice of the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation , for the glory of God and the sanctification of the Christian people;

• implore God's mercy upon the people entrusted to his care by observing the command to pray without ceasing; and

• be united more closely every day to Christ the High Priest, who offered Himself for us to the Father as a pure sacrifice, and with Him to consecrate himself to God for the salvation of all.

While he made these promises, Fr. Ron had a legion of supporters behind him, not least of whom where his two daughters — Angela Henson and Lyssa Seale. Father Ron is the only Marian Father in the United States who is also a "father." Indeed, a grandfather and a great grandfather.

Also behind him were friends from his native Texas and beyond. And his co-workers, too — the laity and the religious from the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, in Stockbridge, Mass., and from Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church, where he is now stationed.

"We are so blessed to have him here," said the Rev. Walter Dziordz, MIC, pastor of Our Lady of Peace. "I told him recently, 'When you're ordained, it's going to feel like you've been shot out of a cannon. We're very busy here, and we need him. I greatly value him as a person and as a priest."

It was Fr. Walter, in his former role as the Marians' provincial superior, who first encouraged Fr. Ron — already in his 60s at the time — to enter into consecrated life. Now the two Marian priests, in addition to a third, will administer this large Midwest parish of 4,000 families that includes an elementary school with 370 students.

In his homily on the Mass of Thanksgiving on Sunday following the ordination, Fr. Walter noted how valuable Fr. Ron will be to parishioners, particularly those who struggle with family issues — something Fr. Ron has plenty of experience to draw upon.

View Fr. Walter's homily:

The Main concelebrants for the Mass of Ordination were the Very Rev. Fr. Kazimierz Chwalek, MIC, provincial superior of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy Province, based at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, in Stockbridge; Fr. Walter; and Rev. Al Micka, MIC, pastor emeritus of Our Lady of Peace. Additional concelebrants included Marians priests and other clergy from throughout the United States.

A Priest of God
"I have been praying for this day," said Fr. Andy Davy, MIC, who was a classmate of Fr. Ron's during formation and who now serves at St. Mary Parish in Plano, Ill. "He has a heart for Mary. He has a gentleness, and also he projects strength, strength in his convictions. He's my brother."

"I've been praying for him ever since he started on this journey. He's the most devout person I know," said Stella Milam of Texas, whose late husband was Fr. Ron's first cousin.

Marlene Schlecht, a Marian Helper from Kenosha, Wis., was also in attendance. View her comments regarding Fr. Ron:

"He's a very sweet, very spiritual man," said Angie Rizzo, who met Fr. Ron years ago while she was a volunteer at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy. "I cooked him meals, and we enjoyed his company. He has had so many experiences in his life to draw from."

'I Was a Mess
Indeed, to a world toiling in sin and yearning for meaning, Fr. Ron can speak with authority. There was a time — nearly three decades — when he was spiritually dying, a servant to his own sins, and in need of a miracle.

"I was a mess," he says now, "and totally selfish."

Father Ron understands that his biography bears review, as painful as much of it is, since it serves as evidence for two crucial truths that he is spending his religious life proclaiming:

1. the assurance Jesus makes to St. Faustina that "the greater the sinner, the greater the right to My mercy" (Diary, 723); and

2. the life-giving graces that result from Christ's mercy.

Sixty-nine-years old, his is a rare religious vocation to say the least, one that presents a blessed gift to the Marians in their mission to serve the Church where the need is greatest.

"His many experiences in life will help him in his pastoral work because he will be able to help others who are going through the same things that he has experienced," says Fr. Joe Roesch, MIC, the Marians' vicar general who served for a time as Deacon Ron's novice master.

You can only gauge how far you have fallen by recollecting where you started. Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Fr. Ron vividly remembers his boyhood. Other kids had clubhouses and tree forts. He had his parish church, St. Mary's.

"I admired the priests. I thought they were the best guys in the world, and I wanted to be like them. And I loved the nuns and the statues and the stained-glass windows and the sacraments," he said.

The oldest of five children, he would conscript his brother Michael to join him to "play Mass."

"We'd build an altar in the bedroom and put a sheet over it," Fr. Ron recalls.

He would often ride his bike to the church just to go to confession, even when he couldn't think of anything to confess. But once he was in his teen years, he says, his attraction to girls began eclipsing his love of God and Mary. "I was forgetting about God, fast."

Soon after joining the Air Force in 1963, he met a girl and they married. The marriage was a disaster. Neither of the two had ever thought of the seriousness of the step, nor its connection with God as a sacrament. At the time and for years, he paid no attention to this fact. Still, from God's grace, they had two daughters together.

A warehouse inventory manager and later a sales representative for freight companies, he wined and dined — as the sales job required — and paid undue attention to women. He soon married again in a civil ceremony. Though she and Ron didn't have children together, she was a good stepmother to his two girls and proved instrumental in his girls having a stable family life. In 1991, the marriage broke up after 11 years.

"I acted out terribly as a husband, and poorly as a father in those years," he said.

On the day the divorce was finalized, after the gavel fell in the courtroom, Ron was driving home. It was raining hard, he recalls, "and I just broke down and cried." He had hit rock bottom. It was then, when he heard a voice in his heart ask, "When was the last time you were happy?" The voice then answered: "When you loved Me."

Seeking 'Refuge'
Yes, it was true: The last time he was truly at peace was when he was a boy and in church striving for holiness.

That's when he turned to the Blessed Virgin Mary in her title as Our Lady Refuge of Sinners. She brought him back to her Son, Jesus.

In 1996, the Blessed Mother took over when Ron was invited by a friend to a Marian conference in Brownsville, Texas. There, he found himself in a hall with about 1,000 people praying the Rosary. He joined in, offering his intentions for everyone he had ever hurt. In the midst of prayer, he broke down and cried. Still wrapped in sin, he vowed to pray his way out of it.

He began attending Mass. His mother even pulled out and presented to him the rosary beads and prayer book he received on his First Holy Communion. Through a close friend in Texas, Ron was introduced to the message of The Divine Mercy, which seemed tailored made for him.

"I was overwhelmed," he says. "Just blown away by what I read in the Diary of St. Faustina. I never knew Jesus was that forgiving. I never thought I could ever be forgiven for the life I led. I realized the Lord doesn't beat us up. The other guy, Satan, does."

His annulment was approved in 2001. It was a "God-incidence," he says without an ounce of hyperbole. Indeed, the annulment letter was dated Sept. 14, the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross, and the letter advising him of the approval was postmarked Oct. 5, the feast of St. Faustina.

After exploring a number of religious communities, he centered on the Marians, based in Stockbridge. In August 2003, at the age of 60, he was accepted as an aggregate member, a layperson permitted to live, work, and pray with the Marians. He drove from Texas in a rented car with everything he owned. First, he worked in the Shrine seven days a week as sacristan. He loved every minute of it. Eventually, prompted by Fr. Walter and by the Holy Spirit, he took first religious vows in 2005 as a professed brother.

He had no intention then of pursuing the priesthood. But 
watching fellow Marians being ordained made him begin to think that he was being called to serve Christ and His people as a Marian priest.

"I remember becoming emotional at the ordinations of Fr. Bob Vennetti, Fr. Ken Dos Santos, Fr. Jim McCormack, and other fellow Marians," Fr. Ron said. 

Watching them being ordained, he said, made him begin to think that he was being called to serve Christ and the Church as a Marian priest — being available to offer Mass, hear confessions, preach and teach in its fullness.

"I felt so presumptuous telling God I wanted to be a priest," Fr. Ron said, "but He kept opening doors for me."

With his brother Michael and sister Kathleen in attendance, Ron was ordained to the transitional diaconate on May 5, 2012 and was then sent to Our Lady of Peace to begin his ministry, one of several Midwest parishes administered by the Marian Fathers.

At Fr. Ron's Mass of Ordination, Fr. Kaz noted how the occasion — on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception — was so fitting. Mary's soul was preserved from the effects of the fall of Adam and Eve. In Mary, "full of grace" right from the start, God sought to restore that trust. By saying "yes to God" to serve the huge responsibility of giving birth to Jesus, the Redeemer, Mary Immaculate models for all of God's children how to say "yes" to God in order to bring about Christ's birth in our own lives.

"She initiated something special, through God's grace," said Fr. Kaz. "All of us are called to be holy and immaculate. All of us are called to share in the victory of Christ over sin and death."

View Fr. Kaz's full homily:

After seven years at the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy, Fr. Ron has settled in at his new home. Noting his age, he said he is no longer concerned with what future Jesus and the Blessed Mother have in store for him.

"They have given me the grace to be patient and accepting of whatever happens," he said. "I want only to take care of the souls they put in my path."

God bless you, Fr. Ron!

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Be a part of the discussion. Add a comment now!

clarisse - Jan 4, 2013

Gods Blessings on you no doubt your in the right place Be brave!

Irma Carrillo.Guadalajara, Mexico - Jan 4, 2013

Que bonito ejemplo de que los tiempos de Dios son sabios,siempre debemos de estar atentos a los llamados de Dios,gracias por compartir esta historia con nosotros, Dios los bendiga

Anna - Jan 3, 2013

God Bless you Father Ron! MayThe Lord give you a pure heart to serve Him and help all those that need to find God in their life. As we know nothing is impossible to God and when we find ourself to the lowest point of our life He is right there to lift us up. Please keep myself and my family in your prayers and please send me your email for private consultation.
God Bless you

Fr Ron - Jan 2, 2013

Thanks for the inspiration!
My husband started a diaconate program at the age of 65. People think he is crazy and to old. We say you are never to old to hear the call. Your story gave us hope. So far we just trust in Jesus and he has opened the doors!
God bless,
The bodines

Jack G - Jan 2, 2013

My sister and I, both in our 60s, have been anguished for years because our siblings and her daughters have abandoned the faith. Nothing seems to bring them back. But this morning Fr. Ron's story has brought me a ray of hope -- nothing is impossible for God. I am forwarding your message to my sister so that she can share in this hope you have sent me today. Thank you, Fr. Ron, for inspiring us to continue working and praying for conversion in our family.

Mirta - Jan 2, 2013

Our son, who is 27, still desires a life in service to God. He has tried to apply to the priesthood in other Orders but has yet to discover his niche. I just tell him that it will come, if God wills, in His time. Your story is one of hope and inspiration to other men seeking to serve God in whatever He sees fit. God bless you in your ministry!

Laura S - Jan 1, 2013

Praise be to Jesus and Mary.... I am so happy to read of your ordination Fr. Ron. I remember meeting you years ago with my friend who introduced me to the Divine Mercy Shrine. How beautiful the day for your ordination. May God smile upon you and bless you! May Mary always keep you and your priesthood wrapped under her mantle!
Thank you for saying "Yes" to your calling by God! The Our Lady of Peace parish is so very blessed to have you!

You will continue to be in my prayers!

Sally A Griffin (your berkshire hair stylist - Jan 1, 2013

Congratulations .. you will be a wonderful priest. God Bless you!

Rev. John McHale - Jan 1, 2013

Fr. Ron, congratulation on your ordination and I thank God for your willingness to respond to His call.

Like you, I was ordained at 63 and will be 72 this month. It's such a wonderful blessing to be led to the priesthood at this time in life.

We're not late vocations. Our vocations came at the exactly right time according to God's plan.

May God abundantly bless your ministry.

Teresa - Dec 23, 2012

This is a blessing God's grace and mercy acting in a soul who desire to bring all souls to the Heavenly Father. You are in my prayers as all the Marian fathers and all priest and religious. Congrats and God bless you always!

Dcn Mike and K.C. Davy - Dec 22, 2012

Fr. Ron, we are so happy for you and for our Church. You have always been a blessing to our family. God bless you always!!

Marie Buffoni - Dec 19, 2012

Dear Fr. Ron,
Am wishing many blessings to you. I just know that you will be a wonderful, and giving Priest. God Bless you.

Br. Chris Alar - Dec 18, 2012

Congratulations! It was great being with you at Holy Apostles Seminary and I hope that you stay close to Mary. I am sorry I could not be there - I wanted to badly but all of the Fathers of Mercy and St. John Cansius guys send their best.

JP - Dec 16, 2012

Even though your life walks not as bad as the life lived by St. Augustine, you both have similar end results in that both of you were led back to the Merciful Heart of Jesus. What a great story and example - God bless you!

Merciful Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in Thee!

Eloisa - Dec 15, 2012

WAY to go, Fr. Ron! As the Lord Jesus said: "I am the way, the Truth and the (only grace filled)Life! Thru the Holy Spirit and intercession of the most pure and caring Mom Mary,you have reached your point of no return from the old to a New creation, with a mind of Christ. Shed off the Adamic thinking to co- redemptor of souls for the Master Redeemer! Go ye therefore and make more disciples for the Lord in building His awesome Kingdom in the glory of the Father God, Amen! Alleluia!

Joesph - Dec 15, 2012

Amazing! Congratulations! We will pray as you enter a new chapter in your life! Blessings of Our Mother!

Lois Ann Lachtara - Dec 14, 2012

God greatly bless you, Fr. Ron! It fills my heart with joy to know that you have been ordained. I recall the precious hours spent sitting side by side on the Intercessory Prayer Line seeking Our Lords' answers for the prayer requests placed before us. You will remain in my prayers always. May Good abundantly bless your ministry.

LORIE C WEEDEN - Dec 14, 2012

It's a miraculous experience for Fr Ron. God has chosen his footsteps, and as a Marian Helper member, I always pray for our priests, seminarians, and all Marian Helper members that God through Mother Mary may led us to what He wants us to do. Congratulations to you Fr Ron, and welcome to the great folds. May God bless you richly, and keep me in all your prayers. Thanks.

Jessie - Dec 14, 2012

May God bless you always. Please keep me in your prayers.

Deacon Ken and Alice Dos Santos - Dec 14, 2012

Dear Fr.Ron,
Heartfelt Congratulations! You have had a long journey back to the Lord Jesus. It seems as though you were called from the very beginning.You have chosen the Pearl of Great price-Jesus Christ. There is no greater gift. Wishing you our sincere best and may the grace of God flow abundantly upon you and your priesthood.

Deacon Ken and Alice Dos Santos - Dec 14, 2012

Dear Fr.Ron,
Heartfelt Congratulations! You have had a long journey back to the Lord Jesus. It seems as though you were called from the very beginning.You have chosen the Pearl of Great price-Jesus Christ. There is no greater gift. Wishing you our sincere best and may the grace of God flow abundantly upon you and your priesthood.

Deacon Ken and Alice Dos Santos - Dec 14, 2012

Dear Fr.Ron,
Heartfelt Congratulations! You have had a long journey back to the Lord Jesus. It seems as though you were called from the very beginning.You have chosen the Pearl of Great price-Jesus Christ. There is no greater gift. Wishing you our sincere best and may the grace of God flow abundantly upon you and your priesthood.

Fr.Ron - Dec 13, 2012

Congratulations,God bless!

Kay & Bill Roesch - Dec 13, 2012

We have known you, and have been praying for you, for a long time, Fr. Ron. What a tremendous accomplishment to now be a priest, and working in Christ's vineyard. Congratulations! Our prayers will continue for your journey ahead. Peace and Love.

Michael S. Casey Sr. - Dec 13, 2012

God Bless you Fr. Ron. I'm a member of The Assoc. of the Marian Helpers. We are all untied daily in our joy, sufferings, triumphs, falls. I'm so blessed to be a member of the Assoc. of Marian Helpers. You will always be in our prayers.

Mary - Dec 13, 2012

What a tribute to Mary and her mothering us back to Jesus. You look like a hell-raiser, Father and a great son. She's going to be relying on you. Many blessings on your priesthood.

Fr. Joe Roesch, MIC - Dec 12, 2012

Very proud of you Fr. Ron! We have been praying for you here in Rome. Congratulations!

Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC - Dec 11, 2012

Awesome! Another Marian priest to serve Christ and the Church! God bless you always, Fr. Ron!