RINGWOOD, N.J. — Roderic Petrie, OFM, 88, a professed Franciscan friar for 64 years and a priest for 58, died Oct. 24 at Holy Name Friary.
A wake will be held for the friar community of Holy Name Friary at 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 27. A public viewing will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. at St. Anthony Church, 65 Bartholdi Ave., Butler, N.J., with a wake service at 7 p.m. Daniel Lanahan, OFM, will be the homilist. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated there by Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM, with Richard McFeely, OFM, as homilist, at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 28. Burial will follow at Mount Calvary Cemetery in Butler.
Roderic was born on Feb. 11, 1929 in Sherrill, N.Y., to Eugene and Margaret (née Smith) Petrie and baptized Eugene Merrill Jr. on March 17, 1929. After graduating from Canastota, N.Y., Public High School, Roderic attended New York State College for Teachers at the State University at Albany from 1947 to 1951, receiving his bachelor’s degree in Spanish.
Following graduation, Roderic spent one year at St. Joseph Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, N.Y., before being received into the Franciscan Order on Aug. 12, 1952 in Paterson, N.J., where he professed his first vows one year later. He studied philosophy at St. Francis Friary in Rye Beach, N.H., and theology at St. Anthony Friary in Butler, N.J., professing solemn vows on Aug. 19, 1956 at Christ the King Seminary in Allegany, N.Y. He continued his theological studies at Holy Name College in Washington, D.C., and three years later, he was ordained a priest on April 25, 1959 at Mount St. Sepulchre Franciscan Monastery in Washington, D.C.
Following ordination, Roderic was assigned to Bishop Timon High School in Buffalo, N.Y., where he taught Spanish for one year. In 1960, he moved south to Atlanta, where he worked with the Spanish-speaking community in the diocese while based at Immaculate Conception Friary. He returned to Western New York a year later to resume teaching, this time at Archbishop Walsh High School in Olean, N.Y., where he also served as prefect of discipline.
While working as a teacher, Roderic also continued to pursue higher education. In 1961, he earned a master’s degree in Spanish from Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Three years later, he spent a summer studying Spanish as a Fulbright Scholar at Universidad de Los Andes, Bogota, Colombia.
In anticipation of his new assignment as a French teacher at St. Joseph Seraphic Seminary, Roderic spent the summer of 1968 studying French at the Institut Catholique in Paris. While at the Callicoon seminary, he also served as prefect and spiritual director. He continued his own studies, earning a master’s in education in 1970 from St. Bonaventure University in Allegany. When a special novitiate program was begun at Callicoon that year, Roderic was named director.
In 1971, a permanent Provincial novitiate was established at St. Francis Friary in Brookline, Mass., and Roderic continued to serve as director of novices there. He served in this capacity until 1975, at which time he expressed a desire to live the Gospel more radically by working with and living among the poor.
After a year of serving in local hospitals in New Bedford and Boston, Mass., Roderic was appointed director of the Province’s Office of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation in Washington, D.C. One year later, he moved to Philadelphia with the intention of bringing the Franciscan presence to the poor. Together with Emmet Murphy, OFM, and the late Robert Struzynski, OFM, the friars began St. Francis Inn Ministries with the opening of St. Clare’s Thimble, a thrift shop, in 1978 and St. Benedict’s Thrift Shop and St. Francis Inn’s soup kitchen in 1979.
After one year of living in a hermitage outside of Assisi, Roderic returned to the United States in 1982 to work with the homeless and the poor while living at St. Francis Friary in New York City. Two years later, he became a member of the Archdiocese of New York’s parish mission team, which worked to create spiritual renewal within its parishes. He continued doing similar work one year later, when he joined the Province’s newly-formed Ministry of the Word, based in New Jersey.
In 1989, Roderic moved from Rochelle Park, N.J., to Belleair Bluffs, Fla., to continue his work in the Ministry of the Word. He was particularly interested in finding ways to evangelize the Spanish-speaking community through television. In 2000, he moved to Hialeah, Fla., where he and Martin Bednar, OFM, developed several television programs and a weekly radio program while ministering at Immaculate Conception Parish.
In 2005, Roderic moved to St. Anthony Friary in St. Petersburg, Fla., where he was based while continuing to serve in the Ministry of Word, giving retreats across the United States. He retired in 2016 and moved to Holy Name Friary in Ringwood shortly before his death.
Memorial donations may be sent to Franciscan Friars – Holy Name Province, 144 West 32nd Street, New York, NY 10001-3202.
— Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.
- “‘The Best is Yet to Come’: Advice from HNP’s Senior Friars” – Feb. 15, 2017, HNP Today
- “Modern-day Missioners Bring Franciscan Message to Thousands” – April 25, 2012, HNP Today