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Ordained on June 28 as a member of the first class of permanent deacons in the history of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Deacon Ronald Stier died on Aug. 24 after a nearly two-year struggle with pancreatic cancer. He was 71.
Donna Stier, Deacon Stier’s wife, said that it was his goal over the past two years to make it to his ordination day.
“It was so wonderful to be there, and to see him finally meet his goal,” she said, “and know that he had to have every ounce of his energy he had to get up there and march in and do all of that.”
The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated by Benedictine Father Bede Cisco, archdiocesan director of deacons and deacon formation, on Aug. 27 at St. Andrew Church in Richmond.
Father Bede was also the homilist at the Mass.
Burial followed at St. Andrew Cemetery in Richmond.
Because of his illness, Deacon Stier was not able to carry out his assigned ministry for very long, his wife said.
“[But] just to make him realize that he was still a deacon, I would ask for his blessing every morning for the strength that I would need,” Donna Stier said.
Deacon Stier gave one of his last blessings to new archdiocesan deacon aspirants James Miller and Frank Roberts, members of the Richmond Catholic Community, on Aug. 22. They visited him before they left for a retreat at Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House in Indianapolis that began their participation in the archdiocese’s current four-year deacon formation program.
“It just made my heart full,” Donna Stier said. “I just thought it was wonderful that they had that much love and respect for Ron to come and ask him to do that.”
Deacon Robert Decker, the parish life coordinator of St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Indianapolis, got to know Deacon Stier well in a theological reflection group they were members of during their years of formation.
Deacon Decker thinks that his friend will now be interceding for him, his fellow deacons and the new deacon aspirants.
“I think we’ll always have Ron to look back on,” Deacon Decker said. “He’s a part of us. And we’ll continue on with that part.”
Father Bede said that Deacon Stier set an example for his 24 classmates.
Deacon Michael East, the archdiocese’s associate director of deacons, spoke about that example.
“Ron was not one for idle gossip,” Deacon East said. “He didn’t just speak off the cuff. When he said something, it had body to it. It had meaning. I will always remember that and respect that about Ron.”
Father Bede said that Deacon Stier’s example will now be even greater.
“He was the senior of the group,” Father Bede said. “And, I think, he was quietly one of the real role models for the whole class.
“In a way now, I think he’s a role model in a new kind of way for many people in the way that he dealt with his illness and his death.”
Deacon Decker spoke about how his friend coped with his cancer and impending death.
“He was a little quiet about it,” Deacon Decker said. “His life was not based on that. He continued living his life as long as he could. However, it did deepen his faith.”
Father Bede spoke about how Deacon Stier’s illness highlighted how his ordination configured him in a special and intimate way to Christ.
“A deacon is in the image of Christ the Servant,” Father Bede said. “And I think Ron’s illness and death gives us another glimpse of how Christ suffers and continues to offer us salvation.”
Ronald Lee Stier was born on Aug. 6, 1937, in Richmond to Robert and Mary (Cunningham) Stier.
He attended the former St. Andrew School. He was a seminarian and graduated from the former Saint Meinrad High School and studied for a period at the former Saint Meinrad College. He graduated from Aurora College in Aurora, Ill.
He served in the Army from 1961 to 1964, and worked for the Belden Corporation for 36 years.
He is survived by his wife of 44 years, Donna (Foltz) Stier; two daughters, Kimberly Laughlin and Denise Gray; and a son, Ron Stier. Also surviving are his sister, Janice Chase, his brother, Dale Stier, and seven grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by two children, Christopher and Andrea Stier.
Memorial gifts may be sent to St. Andrew Parish, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School and Seton Catholic High School, c/o Richmond Catholic Office, 240 S. 6th St., Richmond, IN 47374 or the Reid Hospital Foundation for Hospice Care, 1401 Chester Blvd., Richmond, IN 47374. †