A Life of Service


Growing up in a faith-filled family where my dad was a very busy and involved medical doctor, set the stage for me to think about a life of service. After completing formal education, I worked with university students both in the classroom and in administration. For a young man not yet 30, this was a fulfilling and challenging career.

Nonetheless, there came a time in that journey when I realized many young adults were searching for purpose and identity at a much deeper level than found in classic higher education. Gradually, I came to realize that very truth applied to me as well as others!

After a time of discernment, I resigned my position at the university and began studies for the priesthood. I came to believe I was called to parish ministry and the diverse realities found in every community. After ordination, for six years I enjoyed this life and the range of human encounters was breathless! Yet, once again, God’s loving Spirit nudged me to look more deeply. More searching led me to the Missionary Society of St. James the Apostle.

Latin America amazed, thrilled, and overwhelmed me, and the theatre of my life as a priest was now global. The message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ – the Good News – is unchanging. However, it is received in the moment of people’s lives. For those living at the margins of the world the Gospel yields a power that often transforms individuals and communities. Moreover, it transforms the messenger –the priest – proclaiming that Good News.

I never would have guessed that my earlier career in higher education and my life as a missionary would conveniently come together to begin a remarkable initiative – Rostro de Cristo (RdC). For more than 30 years this program has hosted year-long volunteers and short-term retreats for students from high schools and colleges throughout the US.

I have been privileged to found and lead RdC throughout these years, often through turbulent times. Yet, our mission is clear, and we have been blessed. Now it is time for another transition. I will step aside and one of the first volunteers, Dr. Ed Hardiman, will take over leadership of the Board of Directors. I will continue on the Board as vice-chair during this transition and serve on the advancement committee as well.

I am grateful beyond measure that RdC is continuing to move forward with such strength and commitment to our mission. For I believe this pandemic era has accelerated the reality of a divided, lonely, frightened, and searching world. The antidote, I am certain, is the mission of Rostro de Cristo and empowering a new generation of volunteers to be transformed and then, transform our times to an era of greater freedom, unity, and hope.

Fr. Jim Ronan