Memories of a Saint Ron Ramson CM – Not many people can say that they have met a saint. For those who have, the experience profoundly impacts their lives. Fr. Ronald Ramson, C.M. is among the few who have talked to, prayed with, and served alongside a real saint – Pope John Paul II.
From the website of the Western Province of the Congregation of the Mission… People all over the world – Catholics and non-Catholics alike – recall the joy, love and enthusiasm that radiated from John Paul II throughout his papacy. His gentle spirit, warm personality, sense of humor and generous heart drew millions to the Church and served as a powerful witness of a life well lived.
Images of John Paul II stopping to greet a priest or nun in the crowd, embrace a child, or offer a blessing to the sick or disabled are still fresh in the minds and hearts of many. He was a true shepherd who lovingly led his flock and invited believers everywhere to the fullness of life in Christ.
Fr. Ramson experienced firsthand John Paul II’s remarkable holiness and vibrant spirit on three memorable occasions.
When he was a pastor at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Chicago, Fr. Ramson was invited to celebrate Mass with the Pope in Grant’s Park. He and several of his Vincentian confreres fondly remember praying with John Paul II on that beautiful autumn day before a crowd of nearly 200,000 people.
Years later while in Rome, Fr. Ramson received a call from the Pope’s secretary, Msgr. Stanislaw Dziwisz, who invited him to concelebrate Mass with John Paul II the next morning. Fr. Ramson was asked to read the gospel and remembers “the Holy Father looking right at [him], no more than two feet away.” After the Mass, John Paul II placed his hand on Fr. Ramson’s shoulder, encouraged him in his priestly ministry and gave him a rosary that he still cherishes to this day.
Fr. Ramson’s third encounter with this saintly Pope, which took place in Paris in 1997, has great significance for the whole Vincentian order. It was the beatification of Frederic Ozanam, founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Crowds filled the Cathedral of Notre Dame for the Mass with John Paul II. When the Holy Father declared Ozanam a saint, everyone “went wild with joy.” As a Vincentian priest, Fr. Ramson especially treasures this memory of the late Holy Father.
“I consider my time with John Paul II a true blessing and look to him as an example of priestly spirituality and ministry. As a spiritual director serving at Holy Trinity Seminary, I share with the seminarians that I have met a saint,” said Fr. Ramson. May Fr. Ramson and every Vincentian priest, brother, friend and supporter continue to reflect the life, love and joy of Pope Saint John Paul II.