A Good and Faithful ServantSeptember 14th, 2012
I didn’t meet Fr. Ray Aichele until he had retired. He became our weekend celebrant at St. Mary and became part of our parish family for I believe around 16 years. Fr. Ray was one of those God-centered people who are utterly lovable because they reflect the kind of love that Christ surely showed those who encountered him. I never heard a single unkind word come from his mouth. I never saw him become impatient or angry. He had a kind word, a gentle smile and a twinkle in his eye for everyone.
While I knew that Fr. Ray had had quite a diverse career—at Edgecliffe College, at the seminary, at various parishes—and while Cincinnati truly does have a “small world” feel to it, I was still surprised when I received an email from a parishioner at St. Anthony with the subject line “Fr. Ray.” I thought that perhaps John had heard about Fr. Ray’s sudden turn for the worse in his battle with cancer, because this email came the same day that I heard Father was going into hospice care. But, the email was actually one of those “we have a mutual acquaintance” connections that are so common in Cincinnati. John had known Fr. Aichele when he was pastor at St. Ignatius many years ago. He did not realize that Fr. Ray was dying. I was sorry to be the bearer of this sad news.
The next Sunday, yet another St. Anthony parishioner revealed her connection with Fr. Ray, from his days at Edgecliffe College. She, like John, had been touched by this man who truly exemplified the qualities of a great priest, a good and faithful servant.
We, along with the literally thousands of persons whose lives Ray Aichele touched over his years as a priest, prayed for him through his final days on this earth. We prayed for a gentle end for this so gentle soul. I am certain that when Fr. Ray breathed his last, he was welcomed into the loving embrace of our God and that he is now, as always, praying for all of us. May he rest in peace with all the angels and saints. We love you, Fr. Ray.