FR. EDWARD RUANE, O.P.: REMARKS AFTER MASS
I think Catherine of Siena has a marvelous image somewhere in her Dialogues about God and the human soul, and she uses the image of a fish in the sea. The water in the fish, and the fish is in the water, and back and forth she goes between the image.
As we've heard this evening, certainly, Fr. Ambrose entered into the hearts of the Nigerians with his whole life. But just as he entered into their hearts, Nigeria was his heart.
I remember visiting him after he had his stroke after the end of our General Chapter, and his whole motivation in terms of his therapy was to get back to Nigeria. I said, "Yes, Ambrose, that's what we want for you." He said, "Did you know I came to see Sr. Cephas. I thought she was going to die, and I'm the one who got sick." Then his eyes lit up and he said, "Do you know what Cephas said to me when I came in to her room? She said, 'My Friend.'" Sr. Cephas who was struggling sometimes with being with reality and out of reality was able to behold in her brother, not just her brother but a friend.
We've had a lot of deaths this past month, both in the province and in the world. I think all of us are tired of it and in some way reeling from it, and as I read in Jimmy Marchionda's homily at Pat's funeral about "the giants". It's hard for us to see the giants go, because whenever we talk about those men as giants, the responsibility now falls on our shoulders to become what they have become by ordinary faithfulness to Dominican life.
It's hard to think of Ambrose in some way as dying, because even as an old man, as Matt pointed out, he was a Vocation Director. I said "Why is an 80-year-old man Vocation Director?" If he is bringing in novices I'd appoint an 80-year-old as Vocation director as well. How 'bout it Greg [Moore]?
The point is he was just so filled with life, and the thing he wanted to talk about most was the thing he loved the most: Nigeria, the church in Nigeria, the faith in Nigeria, the Order in Nigeria. So we're glad to have Dominic and John here with us as members of our Dominican family, and also Reginald, who is a good friend of the Dominicans and worked for many years at St. Dominic's in Yaba and knew Fr. Ambrose.
Any way, as we take our leave, I think it behooves all of us to remember that the Dominican vocation is a missionary vocation. We're called to be sent. We're called to be sent far away, even if it's just around the corner or down the street. We're called to enter into the infinite mystery of God. And as our province helped start the province of St. Joseph the Worker in Nigeria, and as our province is continuing to work to help start the Dominican province of Bolivia, and as that comes closer to a reality in our own day, I would hope that we, even though we're getting older -- even if we're 80 years old -- we might be willing to volunteer to go to the next foreign mission, that takes us far away from where "home" is, and make that our home.
This is what we're celebrating, a man who had a stroke. Who wanted to go home, because he made that mission, thousands and thousands of miles away, in a very different culture, a space in his heart that really took over his whole heart. That's what it means to be in mission. May we not lose that.