The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy mourns the loss of our own Father Richard Samuel Rasch, O. de M., who entered into eternal life on Thursday, September 23, 2021, following his struggle with the Covid-19 virus at the St. Vincent Medical Center in Jacksonville, FA. Father Richard, the cherished son of Raymond and Verna (Vitello) Rasch, was born on Nov. 19, 1955 in North Tonawanda, NY. A graduate of North Tonawanda High School in 1973, and Niagara University in 1978 – with a bachelor’s degree in social work – he entered the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy in July of 1977. On August 15, 1979, Fr. Richard made his first profession of vows in the Order. Following his priesthood formation at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, PA, Fr. Richard was ordained into the Diaconate January 6, 1984, and then into the Priesthood July 7, 1984 by the Most Rev. Pius A. Benincasa, auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Buffalo at St. Jo-seph’s Church in North Tonawanda, NY.
In his first assignment he served as Associate Pastor of St. Rocco Parish in Cleveland for 10 years. During this time Fr. Richard also served as a chaplain to the county jails for Cuyahoga County and as a hospital chaplain. In these ministries, he touched hundreds of people with compassion, love, mercy, and hope. He helped countless former inmates to learn a trade and find employment so they could turn their lives around. Following his time at St. Rocco Church, he became the third Pastor at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish in Cleveland on May 13, 1995. Fr. Richard was dedicated not only to the parish, but also to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School where he formed a Booster Club in 1996, a Childhood Program for children aged 3 and above, and a preschool.
Following his appointment as Vicar Provincial of the Vicariate of the United States for the Order in 2003 – a position he held until 2012 – Fr. Richard briefly served at the then Motherhouse of Mercygrove in LeRoy, NY. As the Vicar Provincial, he worked tirelessly for the Order’s mission in India, fundraising for the Missions and visiting there many times. He returned to Cleveland, in 2008, to once again guide Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish as its pastor. In February of 2019, Fr. Richard became the Pastor of St. Mary, Mother of Mercy Catholic Church in Maclenny, FL, where he also served inmates of the state prison system and the state mental hospital.
Fr. Richard was deeply loved by everyone he knew and whose lives he touched. His dedication, humility, and loyalty made him a loving son, a devoted brother, and an admired religious. He is survived by his brothers in the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy, his brother Raymond Rasch of N. Tonawanda and Rita (Richard) Skrok of Lewiston NY. Much loved by his Aunts and Uncles and survived by many dear cousins, beloved parishioners and good friends.
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated by Bishop Edward Malesic on Wednesday, October 6 at Noon at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, 6928 Detroit Ave. in Cleveland. At the family’s request, there was no prior visitation, and the burial was private at Holy Cross Cemetery, Cleveland.
Flowers are gratefully declined. If so desired in honor of Fr. Richard’s life memorials can be made to either Our Lady of Mt. Carmel or St. Mary's Church.