Advertisement

You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

Father Raney turns 100
Father Raney turns 100: More than 200 friends attended Father Richard Raney's 100th birthday Mass and celebration Friday, Oct. 19 at Church of the Ascension on Fort Myers Beach. Video by Christina Cepero
The Rev. Richard Raney performs communion Thursday on Fort Myers Beach. / Terry Allen Williams/news-press.com

More

Every day, Rev. Richard Raney walks 29 steps from his apartment to the chapel of the San Damiano Monastery on Fort Myers Beach, puts on his holy vestments and says Mass to seven Poor Clare nuns and any visitors who wander in.

“Prayer should change us, and I hope that this would take place in a good and beautiful way,” he said in a homily this week. “By prayer, we become truly Christian. We become followers of Christ and followers of Christ not just in a physical way but forming our lives in the ideal that our Lord has given us.”

Raney has seen many good and beautiful ways in his life, a life that on Oct. 19, will hit a magical mark of 100 years.

When asked what he’s done to be able to live so long, Raney quips: “Kept breathing.”

Raney fills his days by praying and imparting wit and wisdom in his interactions with others and for the most part lives no different than anyone else. He even works in a game of golf and watches the sport regularly.

Athletics, as well as academics has kept his body sound and his mind sharp.

“I’ve been in the hospital twice in my life,” he said.

He also hit his first hole-in-one at age 92.

“He said, ‘I hope I don’t have to wait another 90 years to get the next one,” Sister Mary Frances recalled with a smile. Frances is the abbess of the St. Clare nuns

Until recently, he played golf on Fridays, which is the reason he gives Mass at 4 p.m. on Fridays instead of 11 a.m., like he does Monday-Thursday and Saturdays. On Sundays, he gives Mass at 9:30 a.m. in the chapel.

Born on Oct. 19, 1912, in Peoria, Ill., he excelled in school and football. Ordained on June 5, 1938, in the Diocese of Peoria, he served for more than 40 years in Illinois at various parishes and schools, coaching high school football, baseball and track.

At St. Edward’s in Chillicothe, Ill., he oversaw the construction of a church, school, rectory and convent. He also officiated at the marriage of Jim and Vickie Foster in 1966 and later baptized their two children, Bob and Brenda. sgsdfg

“He’s been very special to our family over the years,” said Mrs. Foster, whose birthday is also Oct. 19.

(Page 2 of 2)

The Fosters, who are Fort Myers winter residents, reconnected with their priest while vacationing on Fort Myers Beach in the late 1980s. Raney had been coming to Fort Myers Beach to visit his friends, the late Jim and Chris Baldwin, and eventually retired there. After the Diocese of Venice’s Bishop John Nevins invited three St. Clare nuns on Delray Beach to start a convent on Fort Myers Beach in 1988, Raney offered to say Mass for them.

“His first Mass was on July 26, 1988. He’s said Mass ever since,” said Sister Mary Frances.

The St. Clare nuns have taken a vow of poverty and have no possessions. They dedicate their lives to praying and interceding for others. They rarely leave the convent.

In 2010, Rev. John O’Connor, OFM, provincial minister of the Franciscan friars, came from New York City to ordain Raney as an honorary Franciscan.

A Mass of celebration will be held at 11 a.m. on his birthday at the Church of the Ascension, located next to the monastery on Estero Boulevard and O’Connor will be in attendance.

After an afternoon rest, Sister Paschal, who was professed in England in 1938, the same year .Raney was ordained, makes him tea on occasion. “‘I can’t understand your brogue,’ he tells me.

Before moving into an apartment behind the chapel, Raney lived in a nearby condo. Loretta Stewart, his former next-door neighbor, still invites him over for dinner.

“He’s my friend as well as my priest,” she said.

Jim Stevens, who has known Raney since 1995, often takes him out for breakfast.

“He loves to go out to eat and be with people,” Stevens said.


Next weekend, Raney will celebrate no different than any average birthday. After Mass, he’ll probably enjoy lunch with friends and may even take a boat ride Saturday.

More In News

Top Stories

Local Deals

Flip, shop and save on specials from your favorite retailers on Marco Island

GET DEALS NOW

Marco beach cam

RESTAURANTS

Find local restaurants, read
and submit reviews

Celebrating the best of South Lee and North Naples

READ MORE

Reader Photos

Get the Hurricane Hub app

DealChicken.com

Sign up to save 50-90% off SWFL dining, shopping, spas, activities and more. Every day.