I visited Rod regularly at Resurrection Life Center for over two years. Being with him was a highlight of my visits to all our brothers who live there. He was unfailingly cheerful and gracious, always interested in how others in the province were doing and praying for them. He talked realistically about his own condition and seemed to hold no resentment that at age 70 he had already been bed-ridden for over 7 years. He constantly spoke of his gratitude to God for the ministries he had been given. He considered his present ministry to be prayer.
Rod was almost completely blind as a result of the multiple sclerosis that had caused his early retirement from priestly ministry in Buffalo, New York. He maintained an active telephone ministry with people from that area, however, counseling many in times of difficulties. In spite of his vision problems his major source of recreation was “watching” his favorite old movies of which he had a considerable collection. Often when I came into his room I would find him looking at a movie like “Little Lord Fauntleroy” (his favorite) or “Auntie Mame.” He would tell me what was happening on the screen from memory as he listened to the dialogue. He also enjoyed his snacks that ranged from dill pickles to Pringles to grits.
The virtue he exemplified above all for me was patience. Immobilized, blind, and confined to a bed in a nursing home, he did not complain once in my presence. I have talked with others who knew him as he first began to experience the symptoms of the disease that finally took his life. I know that he was not at first as accepting of his condition as he was when I came to know him. For me this means that his was an acquired patience, not an inborn trait, which makes his final years all the more remarkable.
– Contributed by Fr. Jim Motl, O.P.