FT. MYERS BEACH, Fla. — Fr. Richard Raney, chaplain to the Poor Clares here for more than 20 years, was affiliated to Holy Name Province in a Mass celebrated by Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, last month.
John said, of the Feb. 16 Mass, “There were so many people from the area in attendance that Mass was moved from the Poor Clare monastery chapel to the parish church on the grounds.” He added that Mass was followed by a reception in the church hall and luncheon at the San Damiano Monastery of St. Clare.
“It was a delightful celebration,” he said.
In 1988, Fr. Raney offered to serve as chaplain to the Poor Clares in Fort Myers Beach during his retirement. His only stipulations about being chaplain, according to Sr. Mary Frances Fortin, OSC, abbess of San Damiano Monastery of St. Clare, were that he never be given a stipend and he be able to preach a homily every day. “We took him up on his offer,” she said.
Prior to retirement, Fr. Raney served as a priest in the Diocese of Peoria, Ill., from his ordination in 1938 until 1980.
During his time as diocesan priest, he was a football, basketball and track coach and pastor of several churches. At St. Edward’s Parish in Chillicothe, Ill., he helped the community build a church, grade school, rectory and convent.
Sr. Mary Frances wrote in a letter to John that the sisters wished to honor their chaplain because of his 97th birthday and “in this Year of the Priest, our community desires to recognize him in some special way for his faithful service to us.”
She added, “His homilies are from the heart and he rarely has anything on paper. He has encouraged us in our Poor Clare life, and he has been and is an inspiration to us and to the many people who come to our little chapel.”
Fr. Raney, a lifelong lover of golf, made his first hole-in-one at the age of 90 and six years later decided it was time to give up the game, according to his biography.
The photo behind shows John and Fr. Raney with five of the eight Poor Clares at the San Damiano Monastery of St. Clare.