Aug. 27, 2018 - Fr. Ramon (Ray) Salomone, SJ, was called to eternal life on Aug. 25, 2018. Fr. Salomone died at Montefiore Hospital, Bronx, N.Y. He was born on Nov. 25, 1933, in Brooklyn, N.Y., entered the Society of Jesus at St. Andrew-on-Hudson, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., on Aug. 14, 1951, and was ordained on June 10, 1965, at Fordham University, Bronx, N.Y. He pronounced his final vows on Dec. 8, 1979, at Le Moyne College, Syracuse, N.Y.
By Raymond A. Schroth, S.J.
It is 1964, 8:00 p.m. on a Sunday night, with the TV tuned to WCBS Channel 2, and in Jesuit communities across the country many of the men who usually drift back to their rooms after supper to prepare Monday’s class have grabbed chairs in the community TV room for something special, “The Ed Sullivan Show,” featuring none other than a nine-man singing group, The Woodstock Jesuit Singers.
Woodstock was the remote Jesuit theology college in the woods outside of Baltimore where almost everyone from the Eastern provinces studied theology during the years leading to ordination. The singers were basically a collection of guys with talent who didn’t want to waste it. So, they formed a singing group and were talented enough to show their stuff to several million Americans that Sunday night.
The curtain went up and there stood a line of nice-looking young men in clerical garb, singing. To the right was one man strumming away on his bass violin —Ramon Salomone. Meanwhile every Jesuit and family member with a TV shared the good feeling that Jesuits do more than teach and pray, they sing.
Ramon joined the Jesuits at St. Andrew on Hudson in 1951, studied philosophy at Spring Hill College, taught chemistry and mathematics at Fordham Prep, earned his Ph.D. at Fordham in organic chemistry followed by special studies in organic chemistry in 1963, and was ordained at Fordham in 1965.
Now came the transition from advanced training to a full-time job. As a National Institute of Health post-doctoral fellow he polished his chemical wisdom at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass. (1967 to 1969).
The next big step took him to Canisius College in Buffalo for eight years (1969-1977). There he taught chemistry, then took over the leadership of the department. But he also “fit in” while constantly busy with other commitments, like disappearing into the local mountains and woods for camping trips with a friend and returning both worn down and worn out with a beard. Having done well at Canisius, he was sent to Le Moyne College in Syracuse (1977-1982) to keep on teaching chemistry, but this time also serve as rector of the college community.
The next step became a radical challenge to those administrative talents which Canisius and Le Moyne, plus- six years as vice-provincial for formation for the New York province (1982-1988), had prepared him for—Africa (1989-2004).
The Jesuit apostolate to Nigeria-Ghana, for example, in 1998, was a complex and demanding operation—a novitiate in Benin City, a school in Abuja, a Centre and a parish in Benin City and a parish in Lagos, all operated by approximately 40 Jesuits, most of whom were Americans. The major challenge came from the culture—political and business corruption, terrorism, poverty, weak infrastructure and primitive religious concepts which would make it difficult to absorb standard theological training. Ramon came as novice director and gradually moved up to regional superior. He helped carry the pain when two novices drowned in the ocean, did the chores like shopping and cutting the grass, sang, and raised his own garden.
Somehow, he knew how to deal with the young men who had just entered the Society and now had to adapt to Ignatian spirituality, which leads them to find God in all things, including a rigorous intellectual life which is also a life of service and dedication to the weak and the poor.
In 2004, he returned to New York to serve as the provincial assistant for international apostolates. In previous years he had regularly led retreats and served as a hospital chaplain, so now, living at Murray-Weigel Hall, he was as active as possible. His CD collection is strong in the classics — Dvorak, Mozart and Bach. Elizabeth Johnson’s Quest for the Living God helped sustain his spiritual life. The complete collection of “Downton Abbey” and Ken Burns’ “Vietnam” sharpened his taste and political sense. He kept singing in the house choir and sang the Responsorial Psalms at community Mass.
He’s still here. We can picture him as he would visit the roof garden where he has set up eight white large pots, each nursing large tomato plants; five individual tomatoes are red and almost ready to feed us, another 20 or so are fighting their way into the sunlight.
Tuesday, August 28, 2018
Murray-Weigel Hall Chapel
3:00-5:00 p.m. and 7:00-8:30 p.m. (Prayer Service at 7:00 p.m.)
MASS OF CHRISTIAN BURIAL:
Wednesday, August 29, 2018—11:30 a.m.
Fordham University Church
Rose Hill Campus
Bronx, NY 10458
Jesuit Cemetery, Auriesville, NY