By Dr. Scott Hahn
There was a book a few years back called A World Without Heroes. Tragically, that’s the world a lot of people live in. But not me. I’ve been blessed to know some great heroes and holy people.
One of those giants in my life, Father Ronald Lawler, O.F.M. Cap., went on to his reward this past November.
Father Ronald was a heroic scholar at a time in the Church when we really needed heroic scholars. He was an early and lonely defender of Humanae Vitae and until the time of his death was the only American theologian on Pope John Paul II’s Pontifical Roman Theological Academy. His former students include some of the finest and most faithful bishops and archbishops in the American Catholic Church today.
You can read more about his accomplishments and his generous bequest to The St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology elsewhere on this site. I want to tell you what he meant to me as a friend and a spiritual father.
He was a wise man. He gave me invaluable help by reviewing drafts of my book, First Comes Love. And he gave me one of the gifts I cherish the most when he agreed to write the Foreword to that book.
As wise as he was, he was even holier. When I was with him, I felt like one of those early Christians who used to make pilgrimages to “living saints.” I wanted to live like him, to believe like he did.
I don’t intend to eulogize or canonize him. I just wanted to say that I’m going to miss him.
The last time I visited him, he was really sick with the cancer that eventually killed him. I was getting close to Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh where he was, but I had to stop and ask directions. The man on the corner told me: “Turn down Pride and you’ll find Mercy.” He was talking about Pride Street. But I heard something more.
Father Ronald and I had a good laugh about it. Now I can see that it was the story of his life - he turned down pride and he found Mercy. I pray it will be the story of my life - and yours, too. Even in his weakness, Father Ronald was still giving me the strength of Christ.
* Scott Hahn is Founder of The St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. First published in Breaking the Bread (January 2004)