Remembering ‘Panchita’

Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of Las Cruces, N.M., gives homily during Mass in Rome May 1. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

I ran across a moving story that Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of Las Cruces, N.M., shared about his late grandmother — he called her Panchita — when he visited the StoryCorps crew in Mesilla, N.M. recently. He related a story from 1981, when she was 90, and the year he was ordained an auxiliary bishop of San Antonio. A year later he was named the first bishop of Las Cruces.

Panchita told her grandson she’d been going to a lot of funerals, indicating she was having a good time at them. He said he asked her how could she “have a good time when somebody dies?” “She looked at me … almost scolding me. And she said ‘Son haven’t you learned yet, that it is a privilege to die?'” Bishop Ramirez said in all of his theology studies, he had never heard it put “quite that way.” You can listen to his story here.

Many no doubt are familiar with StoryCorps, an independent nonprofit organization “whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share and preserve the stories of our lives.”

Bishop Ramirez,  75, described his grandmother as “one of these women who lived out in the ranches, who would grab a rattlesnake by the tail and snap its head off. She was strong and she raised this big family.” She took the bus 200 miles by herself from her home in Houston to be there at her grandson’s ordination as a bishop. A few weeks later she died, and he celebrated her funeral Mass.

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One Response to Remembering ‘Panchita’

  1. That is beautiful – what a story, what a woman.

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