Remembering Fr. Richard J. Orlando

Six years ago today, my good friend Fr. Richard Orlando passed into eternal life.  Fr. Orlando and I had been friends for 18 years; it was an honor to be his caregiver for the last 18 months of his life.   I wanted to share my eulogy that I was honored to deliver at his funeral with you today.

Your Excellency, Reverend Fathers, Religious, Family and Friends, Good Morning!  On behalf of Fr. Orlando and his nieces and nephews, thank you for coming this morning to celebrate the life of Fr. Richard Joseph Anthony Orlando.  My name is Chris MacLellan and I am a seminarian from the diocese of Palm Beach.  It has been an honor to be a friend of Fr. Orlando for over 18 years and a privilege to be his personal care giver for the last 18 months in Florida.

I have been truly blessed!

I would just like to share a few brief thoughts before we bid farewell to Fr. Richard.

Ministers come in all shapes, sizes and colors:  Ministers come from all different backgrounds, cultures and genders (he’ll haunt me for getting the gender comment in!)   Yet, in the diversity of ministers, there is unity and a common bond in their love for God and the people of God.  Each one of us has our own way of ministering… that is the diversity within each of us.

Life would be boring without the diversity and I think we can all agree that the last thing that Fr. Orlando was…was boring!

I am sure that each one of us here today can recount an Orlando story two;  I am sure he would appreciate them all.  Some of his comments are legendary.  Imagine being the person who was complaining to Fr. Orlando about something after Sunday morning Mass only to be ask…”Now, just what is your envelop number!”

We are all aware of his humor and his command of the vocabulary.  Fr. Orlando liked to use his sense of humor in many different ways, sometimes to a fault.  Mary Ann, Rich and Donna will remember their parents telling Uncle Rich…”Rich, you may think that it is funny, but no body else does!”

Even Bishop Clark was subject to Fr. Orlando’s humor…I recall one particular story, Bishop, where he told me how he would like to greet you in  the most formal of ways by saying…”Your Excellency”…(note how I started this today)…apparently, you put a stop to that one day  by saying to him …”Well, there is the excellent Fr. Orlando.”   He always regretted not picking up on your response  upon its delivery;  but I can assure you, he most appreciated the retort and talked about it often.

In his own way, Fr. Orlando loved the God he served; the Priesthood that he was shared; the Church he was a part of; and most of all, the people who are a part of the Church.  I can pledge to each one of you that while he may not have had the ability to tell you first hand how much he loved you, rest assured, he loved each one of you and was most appreciative of your presence in his life.  All his decisions were well thought out and meticulous, there was never any malice intended…he always acted out of love, even if it was tough love.

We all know that he never had an opinion of his own that he disliked; yet he had unassailable logic!

He hated fakery and phoniness;  one always knew where they stood with him.

He did not know how to beat around the bush; being direct was an art.

Kind of refreshing, come to think about it, considering how some communicate today.

I have been enriched by his friendship and love over the years and no seminary formation team could ever have taught me what I have learned from him over these past 18 months while caring for him in Florida.  While we will all miss him,  we will all remember him because he has touched each one of us in so many different ways!

There is a void in my life that can never be replaced.

So my beautiful friend, there are no more steps to climb, no more walkers to push, no more wheelchairs to ride; just an eternal breeze at God’s heavenly beach… how sweet that must be!

Good and faithful servant, you have fought the war and you have won the battle:   now go in peace my dear friend, and with God’s permission, save me a place next to you on that heavenly beach. You will always have a special place in my heart…   EGO AMO TE!

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Filed under Advocate, Bow Tie Guy, Caregiving, Catholic, Theology

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