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Rev. Ronald J. Pusak

Deceased: 2012-01-12

Diocese: MIAMI

CSM Graduation Year: 1964

 No obituary found:

Homily delivered by Archbishop Thomas Wenksi during the funeral Mass for Father Ronald Pusak at the Cathedral of St. Mary on Jan. 16, 2012.

Today, we lay to rest a priest who well served the Lord and his Church in a variety of capacities and roles. He was at one time or another, Chancellor, Judicial Vicar, Seminary Professor and Pastor of six parishes. As his friend, Father David Russell, said in the obituary appearing on our Archdiocesan website, Father Ron Pusak was a “priest who touched thousands of souls” during his 50 years of ministry. I was one of the seminarians in his canon law class at St. Vincent de Paul Seminary – and as a young priest I called on him for some canonical advice more than once.

St. John Eudes once said: “...the greatest effect of God’s mercy, the most precious grace He bestows upon mankind, is to send worthy priests, men after His own heart, seeking only His glory and the salvation of souls.”

As priests we touch and influence people–for good or for ill–in ways that we may never be aware of, at least on this side of eternity. Father Ron Pusak was one of those worthy priests; and, I hope that now, from his side of eternity, he is aware of the influence for good that he had in the lives of so many people here in the Archdiocese of Miami and beyond. His was a ministry to service, not of celebrity. And he ministered in humility and with humor.

Like Ron Pusak was, every priest here is privileged to serve God and his people in this awesome vocation of the holy priesthood. And even though we carry this treasure in the “earthen vessels” of our frail humanity and sinfulness, it is a holy priesthood because as “other Christs” we share in our Lord’s own high priesthood in our ministry of Word and Sacrament. God uses imperfect instruments to work his will so that we will know that it is He who saves and not we.

Because there is this special bond that unites us, priests, to Father Ronald Pusak, a priestly bond of solidarity and communion, we concelebrate together this Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the repose of his soul. This special bond is “stronger than death” – for we were ordained like Melchisedek of old, priests forever. And since we priests know our own human frailty, we are not shy in asking for prayers for him – and when we die, we beg your prayers for us, confident that the love of Jesus Christ who gave us the gift of the priesthood is stronger than death.

Our priestly lives and ministries – like that of Father Pusak - are forever linked to the sacred history of salvation lived out in this local Church of Miami. He grew up here – and graduated from the then St. Mary’s High School, along with another local young man who was to remain Father Pusak’s lifelong friend, Archbishop Ambrose de Paoli, who served in the Holy See’s diplomatic corps. Ordained a priest in 1961, Ron remained in South Florida to serve under each of its four archbishops. He not only watched the Archdiocese of Miami grow, but through his priestly ministry he helped direct and shape its growth.

As a young priest, studying in Rome, he assisted as a translator at some of the sessions of the Second Vatican Council. The council brought many changes and challenges to the Church – Ron adapted to those changes and met those challenges. He did so because he had about him that sense of continuity – derived from the daily exercise of holiness in patience and courage in perseverance – that allowed him to receive what was “new” and to integrate it with the “old”.

The Paschal Candle stands besides the coffin at every Mass of Christian burial – just as it stands by the font at baptisms. Five grains of incense represent the five wounds of Christ. Those five grains in the form of a cross are framed by the Greek letters, Alpha and Omega, symbolizing Christ – our beginning and our end. When candle is lit after the blessing of the new fire on Holy Saturday evening, the priests prays – as Father Ron prayed the many times he celebrated the Easter Vigil: “May the light of Christ, rising in glory, dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds.” The words of St. Paul then comfort us: If we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also rise with him.”

The Liturgy of the Hours – which we priests are obliged to pray daily - suggests a reading from St. Braulio, bishop of Saragossa, for the Office for the Dead. Faith assures us, St. Braulio tells us, that just as Christ is not dead, we too shall not die. “The hope of resurrection encourages us because we shall see again those whom we lose here below.” He reminds us that as Baptized Catholics – and most certainly as ordained priests – “we do not belong to ourselves; we belong to the one who redeemed us. Our will should always depend on his. For this reason we say in the Lord’s Prayer: ‘Thy will be done’. Confronted with death, the sentiments of Job should be our own: “The Lord gave and the Lord took away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!” (St.Braulio, Office of the Dead)