My mentor and friend, Ralph Del Colle, has died tragically of lung cancer. He was a profoundly Catholic Trinitarian Theologian and guided me into living the theological vocation by thinking, writing, and teaching our ultimate concern--the blessed Trinity, whose hands hold Ralph close to his Fatherly heart.
For the Marquette Theology Department's website, I took this picture of Ralph. I captured him right after our class on the Trinity had ended. See his radiant smile, those sparkling eyes, and humble wisdom are all present. He was always like this throughout his graduate classes. What is missing in this photo is his Yankees cap purposefully placed on the desk so the emblem would face his students. His love for the Trinity and his family was always first, but somehow in the midst of his love for the faith was also his love for the Yankees. Still, he didn't only wear a Yankees cap. As a son of Queens, NY, he was also a Mets fan and having lived in Milwuakee for many years, he would often wear a Brewers cap. I asked him about this one day. He said that he changed his baseball cap according to the theological virtue he was needing that day--Yankees cap meant faith, Mets cap meant hope, and Brewers cap meant charity.
His charity for the underdog, which is probably why he made time for me, filled our conversations, whether we would speak about the rosary, pentecostals, or his family. As an honor to him and his theological work, his friends, colleagues, and his students including me have compilied a festschrift, which Ralph saw in rough draft form of in his last days. I understand that he was greatly moved. We are greatly in his debt.
But all of this work ... seems like straw to sadness we feel as we mourn his death. We will pray and have prayed intensely for a miracle, especially through the intercession of Blessed John Paul II.
Please stay tuned to my site as I gather more information for you about my dear professor, Dr. Ralph Del Colle.
May he rest in the bosom of God the Father as the Son and Holy Spirit gather him into sharing their vision of the Father. May our good mother Mary, intercede for him and his family. She, whom he loves dearly, will not forget his wife and children.
Kyrie eleison, Christi eleison, Kyrie eleison.