Fr. Ric Schneider, the 82-year-old pastor of St. Mary's Church in Bloomington, Ill., rejects any mention of retirement. “What would I do?” With more energy than three men, Ric takes on projects and programs that other people would have only kept on their “wish list.” His parish secretary, Phyllis Taylor, believes his endless energy comes from the Holy Spirit. “My health is good,” Ric says. “I take no medicine or vitamins. I come from a family of 11 children and we always worked.” Four of the Louisville-born Schneider siblings became Franciscan friars of our Province.
Ric is good at getting things done; he finds ways to fulfill goals when others' willingness to take on the project flags. Right now he needs to resurface the church parking lot and aside from getting the funds to do it, he needs to work with the City to make the sidewalks handicap-accessible. The contracts and tiresome details don't seem to get in the way of his visiting the sick, overseeing the Soup Kitchen, RCIA, paying off the parish portion of the Archdiocesan High School debt, helping the poor who come to the door of the friary, or taking First Friday Holy Communion to shut-ins. His efficiency and sense of responsibility sees each task through, when delegating it would have been so much easier.
“We have a wonderful parish of 1,300 families,” he says. “About 20% are Hispanic.” With the support of Fr. Gregg Petri, who works in Hispanic Ministry, Br. Kevin Duckson, the Pastoral Assistant, and the newly arrived Fr. Neri Greskoviak, they keep things lively.
As a priest for 55 years, Ric weaves his previous work into his current life. After ordination he taught at Roger Bacon High School in St. Bernard. Trace back to 50 years ago, when he was Disciplinarian at St. Francis High School Seminary. Next he was Vocation Director. During that time he says he gave 5,000 vocation talks. In Cincinnati he started a model radio-controlled airplane project with the students, a hobby he continues today. He found a way to have a landing strip built, kept the grounds himself and even dealt with the Army Corps of Engineers on the project.
After the vocation team, “I was sent to St. Paul's Church in Lafayette, Louisiana, as pastor. As a man in his 40s, I had never signed a check or assisted at funerals. It was a new and exciting way of life for me.” Ric has led his flock at St. Mary's since 1993. A tireless and enthusiastic supporter of the parish-affiliated school, he received a Distinguished Pastor Award from the National Catholic Educational Association’s Dept. of Elementary Schools in 2012.
Ric, whose patron is St. Theodoric, continues to inspire those around him with his vitality and his charismatic, everyman manner.
Fr. Ric sends his greetings in this video from Chapter 2014.