Biographies

Brother Ronald Rak, MM

Born: December 27, 1928
Oath: June 29, 1955
Died: January 12, 1994

Brother Ronald Rak died peacefully at about 7:00 P.M. on January 12, 1994, in St.Teresa’s Residence, Maryknoll, New York. He was 65 years of age and a Maryknoll Brother for 38 years.

John Francis Rak was born on December 27, 1928 in Chicago, Illinois, son of Jacob and Felicia Bartusiak Rak. He had three brothers and four sisters. John attended Sts. Peter and Paul Parochial School for eight years and graduated from Holy Trinity High School in June 1943. After high school he attended Bryant & Stratton Business College for one year. He became a candidate lay brother with the Dominican Fathers in St. Pius V Priory, River Forest, Illinois, but withdrew after a short time to enter the U. S. Army on March 30, 1951. He served with the Medical Corps in the 16th Field Hospital in Nurnberg, Germany. Being fluent in the Polish language he also qualified as an interpreter. He was honorably transferred to the Army Reserves as a Corporal on March 13, 1953. On September 16, 1953, he entered Maryknoll Brothers Novitiate in Brookline, Massachusetts. He chose the Religious Name of Brother Ronald and pronounced his First Oath of Allegiance on June 29, 1955.

After profession Brother Ronald was assigned to the Brothers Novitiate and served as head chef and general house-keeper. He took cooking lessons for a short while and learned to plan and prepare the meals very well. He pronounced his Permanent Oath on June 21, 1958.

On April 13, 1960, Brother Ronald was assigned to the Maryknoll Mission Region in Kenya, East Africa and appointed procurator of the Maryknoll Centre House in Nairobi. He studied the Kiswahili language. His Regional Superior wrote that “Brother Ronald has done a very fine job keeping the Centre House in excellent condition, handling guests, etc. during his 6 years there.”

While on home furlough in January 1969 Brother Ronald was appointed Business Manager of the Maryknoll Seminary in Hingham, Massachusetts. He served in that position until May 15, 1970 when he was reassigned to the Nairobi Centre House as procurator and bookkeeper. Later in 1978 he was appointed Director of the Society House in Nairobi. In October 1983, while on home leave he was assigned to St. Teresa’s Residence. The Superior General. wrote: “I would like to take this opportunity to express our Maryknoll Society’s gratitude to you for the many ways you have been of service to all Maryknollers who have worked in Africa, or who have visited Africa. You have surely been a good example to all of us, of service to others–not only to Maryknollers, but to all friends and people that your life has touched and influenced.” Brother Ron took over the supervision of housekeeping and custodial services at St. Teresa’s Residence at Maryknoll, New York. He served in that position for about one year and then returned to the Nairobi House on December 1, 1984. He was recalled to St. Teresa’s Residence as Assistant Administrator on July 1, 1986. Again on July 31, 1989 he was assigned to the Nairobi Centre House. However, this was canceled and he remained on at St. Teresa’s Residence as Assistant Administrator.

At this point in time the Superior General thanked Brother Ronald for his service in Africa in the following statement. “I want to thank you for the many concrete and effective services you have rendered to the Society over the years. These areas of service have often been in difficult and critical areas, such as your very generous and efficient running of the Society House in Nairobi. All who have visited Africa at any time in the recent years, have heard over and over again unsolicited praise for you from the members of the Tanzania and Kenya Regions, and from just plain visitors passing through.”

On January 1, 1993 Brother Ron was appointed as Second Assistant Administrator of St. Teresa’s Residence. Shortly after, he fell ill. During this time he faithfully fulfilled his work until confined to bed in December 1993.

Brother Ron was an outstanding example of the fulfillment of the Brothers’ vocation of service to others in the midst of the excellent services of the staff at St. Teresa’s Residence. He developed an excellent relationship with the nursing and maintenance staff and he will indeed be missed, but with fondness.

On Sunday, January 16, 1994 wake services were held in St.Teresa’s Residence at 7:00 P.M. and in Our Lady, Queen of Apostles Chapel at 7:30 P.M. A concelebrated Mass of Christian Burial was offered on Monday, January 17 at 11:30 A.M. in Our Lady Queen of Apostles Chapel, with Rev. William Madden, M.M. as principal celebrant and Rev. Robert Lefebvre, homilist. Internment will take place in Maryknoll Center Cemetery.