This past week IHM celebrated the funeral mass for Father John Roy Rathfon, pastor emeritus of our parish. It was a beautiful liturgy, celebrated with over 150 parishioners, 50 some priests, two bishops, and the entire traditional choir! Many commented how terrific it was and IT WAS a fitting tribute.
Father was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer only about a month ago. Up until that point Father and “Buddy” his rescue dog, lived a normal retired life here on East Prescott in Cuyahoga Falls. Father was able to “get-up-and-go” as he pleased, although, because of years of back problems, his walking was “s l o w”. He also was afflicted with COPD.
When Father was given the lung cancer diagnosis, he opted for “hospice care” in his home and up until the second week in July was able to remain there until a brief hospital stay and then finally “hospice care” at The Village of Saint Edward where he died.
Father was 89 years old and 63 years a priest. He was pastor here in 1978 until he retired in 1994. He served here for 16 years! He arrived at IHM, following Father McIntyre who founded our parish in 1952. It was a “bustling” time for Cuyahoga Falls as real estate development was at a high. Population growth in the city and parish was increasing!
Father was responsible for new developments to our buildings and grounds. Air conditioning was bought for our church along with its stained glass windows. A new “floor plan” was created in the church building taking the tabernacle to a special location and bringing the choir “closer” to the assembly (behind the wooden slatted screen) for a unified participation with them rather than in a choir loft. A new electronic organ was purchased as well.
This organ purchase was able to be done through an estate gift of parishioner, Julia Schmidt. In addition to this purchase and with a capital campaign from the growing parish, Father was able to construct a new PARISH COMMUNITY CENTER and gym, our present Parish Community Center with its McIntyre Room!
It was also during his years new roofs were placed on the convent, the church and the rectory. BINGO also was begun as a fund raising effort to support our parish Catholic Elementary School.
These are not the only things done during his 16 years as our pastor, but these are significant things to remember. I know Father to have accomplished many relationships here at IHM and was a compassionate one-on-one counselor, listener, and helper to many of you.
May he rest in peace. May the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God, rest in peace.