For the past 3 years, Cursillistas throughout Canada and beyond, have been praying for our friend Richard Harty, a ‘champion of life in Christ’! Richard’s fight with cancer ended on April 7, 2021, when he passed on to his 5th day! ‘Hallelujah!’
For all the sadness of his life in years in addiction, the last 9 years have proven to be a wonderful gift of time and grace. He will continue to be an inspiration to many, long after today. Richard credited his decision to work hard at recovery, at Luke 15 House, to his young teenage daughter, who set before him the choice of getting clean, or living a life that would not include a father/daughter relationship. Fully committed, to doing the hard work that recovery required, he was continually becoming the beautiful man God created him to be. After one year, he was hired as a full-time staff member, at Luke 15. Grace was evident in Richard’s dedication to these ‘Prodigal Sons’, witnessed by his gifts of always being a fair, loving, compassionate and firm leader. The ‘guys’ knew his story, including the fact that he was battling cancer, that was supposed to take his life after one year, but finally did, after three. His example of gratitude, courage and surrender to God’s will was a powerful witness.
A couple of years later, Richard went to a Cursillo weekend. On the first night, he with another candidate wanted to bolt, but both heard God’s call to stick it out ‘together’, and so they did! They were bonded deeply as brothers from then on. It may have seemed like an odd ‘couple’, coming together from such different paths. But most importantly, what they did share, was their surrender to God’s will for them. As individuals and brothers in Christ. Both witnessing to God’s mercy, so beautifully.
Richard’s love for the Catholic faith grew and, following RCIA, he was received into and was devoted to the Church, loving the Sacraments. He was at home, lovingly embraced by our Church community, many of whom are Cursillistas.
A great challenge for Richard was that his wife of four years (in the Philippines), had not been able to come to Canada due to immigration restrictions. He was fortunate to travel to be with her, twice a year since their wedding. He found peace, in surrendering to that sacrifice.
From the time Richard was diagnosed with cancer, he was blessed to be able to work at Luke 15 without too many absences, that is, until the cancer moved rapidly in the last month of his life. He, and his Cursillo ‘brother’ agreed that Richard would spend his last days, not at a hospice care facility, but in a home. So, with careful discernment and equipping their home, the doctors agreed that Richard could spend his last days in the loving home of a family. Abundant grace enabled a beautiful family to give selflessly, while receiving so much in return. So intimate, and so beautiful, Richard and his wife (in the Philippines) were able to see and speak together every day (virtually). Unfortunately, the pain became unmanageable, and Richard had to return to hospital. He died a few days later, on April 7, 2021.
Without the usual coming together in one place to grieve upon the news of a loved one’s death, God blessed our community with a beautiful Mass and tribute that very afternoon by a wonderful priest, who provided a way of expressing our love and grief in a powerful way.
How wonderful that Richard’s wife could witness the fruits of friendship & inspiration and be embraced (virtually)by her husband’s community here, especially powerful testimonies shared by past residents, who expressed their gratitude and the profound influence that Richard had on their lives, from the time they 1st came to recovery and still today, a few healthy years later.
Anyone who knew Richard, witnessed the impact of his constant expression of gratitude. He would confidently declare that it’s only by totally surrendering to God’s grace that: he had been clean & sober for 9 years; restored his relationship with his daughter; married a loving & courageous woman; and endured his 3-year battle with cancer with peace & courage; and incredibly, that he would be so lovingly cared for as he prepared for his final & eternal home.
A funeral Mass was celebrated & livestreamed, as well as Richard being laid to rest, within two weeks of his death. Please continue to pray for Richard’s wife and step-daughter in the Philippines, as well as his mother and daughter here.