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Father Enrique Rueda, R.I.P.


It is with great sadness we must announce the death of one of the greatest friends of this Faith Community for almost twenty years.

It is personally amazing that after such a long friendship with this man, I have to admit that I never really knew much about him. Father was a very private person, despite his embullience, eccentricity and "pythonic" sense of humor. In many ways his birth should have been in England rather than Cuba.

It is strange to admit that I never knew his birthday (he never drew attention to himself), or his age at death. I suppose he was around 74.

Enrique Tomás Rueda was born in Cuba around the year of Our Lord 1940. He had 3 brothers and one sister.

Enrique came to this country in 1961 - of this I am certain - after spending time in prison (how long, why?) under the Communist Regime of Fidel Castro. He was a university student at the time.

We know he completed a degree in chemical engineering, maybe in New York some time after his arrival. At later points in time he gained Master's degrees in philosophy and business administration.

He entered the New York Diocesan Seminary at Dunwoodie and was ordained priest by Cardinal Cooke around 1970.

Father Rueda was given pastoral responsibility for the Hispanic Community in the Diocese of Rochester, NY. He always referred to this period as the happiest time of his life. Father often spoke about a Monsignor Schnaky as a great friend and mentor.

Apparently Schnaky was somewhat of a rebel (they must have made a good pair!), but since he had great pastoral ability combined with the gift to raise money for his church (the most successful in the diocese) the bishop left him alone. Father Rueda insisted that the Monsignor never took collections and I should imitate him. I must admit that Father's wish was never carried out!

Sometime later Father was involved in a ministry to drug addicts in New York.

I never found out the complete reason, but in the next few years Father fell foul of the Rochester bishop who suspended him from priestly service and went so far as to prohibit his offering funeral services for his deceased father. I suspect this was to do with Father's un-compromising position on the Church's moral teaching.

In order to survive, Father Rueda took a secular job with Eastman Kodak. He was inactive as a priest for some years. We must realize that in those days the Traditional movement was hardly known about and at that point I do not think Father appreciated it in its entirety.

During this period he did extensive research into the problem of homosexuality and the Catholic Church. He wrote a lengthy book "The Homosexual Network" published in 1984 (?). (Someone "borrowed" my copy!)

Around 1987 Father was asked by Kodak to move to Miami to be head of Personnel for Central and South America.

This he did, bringing with him his aged mother whom he looked after with exemplary love.

Father claimed during this time of constant journeying to Kodak centres in Latin America to have gathered enough frequent flier miles to keep him going for at least another 1,000 years!

The dispute with Bishop Clark of Rochester and the publication of the book which challenged the un-Christian lifestyle of many bishops, priests and even cardinals led to Father being "black-balled" by every diocese in the country.

On coming to Miami he was brought into contact with Fr. Haddad of the Melkite Catholic Church of S. Jude who allowed Father to concelebrate their Eastern Liturgy on Sundays. Father was a frequent feature at S. Jude for many years, his mother sitting in the first pew.

We must add that (presumably) through pressure from the Latin Rite bishops Father was not allowed to preach or hear confessions.

During this time of somewhat restored ministry, Father Rueda began writing a column for the "Wanderer" Catholic newspaper. However, he was gradually moving closer to tradition and his articles became embarrassing to the "conservative" publication and he was asked not to submit more.

Around 1989 Fr. Rueda met with Father Pablo Alvarez at St. Jude's church. Father Alvarez was gradually turning to tradition. Soon both were driving up to Fort Myers on Sundays where Fr. Alvarez offered the Traditional Latin Mass for the Society of Saint Pius X.

For some reason this arrangement did not last long.

In 1990 Fr. Alvarez, who proved himself to be a gifted preacher and musician, began assisting at S. Philomena. Fr. Rueda began to come and offer Mass, give spiritual retreats on an infrequent basis.

It was thanks to Father Rueda that the Saint Philomena Community continued to survive after losing their legal battle for their building in 1992. Through his many friends in the Cuban exile community, he found us our present edifice.

Until his early retirement from Kodak in 2001 Father continued to support us.

In 2001 be became a member of the Board of Directors, sending a most gracious letter to the Archbishop of Miami telling him of his intentions to enter his territory and actively minister.

The then Chancellor, a Father Cronin, sent back a very rude letter referring to Fr. Rueda as "Mister".

Apart from some long term stays in Germany and Brazil, Father Rueda offered Holy Mass for our community every Sunday until he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a year ago. Father offered his last Mass on Sunday, the 10th of May, 2009, A.D.

A year or more of suffering the effects of chemotherapy followed.

Father went to Lourdes, France in January, 2009.

Sadly, the miracle he sought was not to come, but Father returned accepting God's Will for himself.

Eventually the cancer proved invincible and Father died after receiving the Last Sacraments on Monday 14th, December, 2009 at 3:00p.m.

Who knows what this great and intelligent man would have become if the Catholic Church had not changed beyond recognition from the Church of his youth? Bishop? Archbishop? Cardinal?

Father Rueda was an excellent philosopher, theologian and linguist, fluent in Latin, Spanish, English, Portuguese and German.

We deeply thank Our Blessed Lord and Blessed Lady for his time with us.

I would like you all to remember him as I am sure he would like to be remembered: a devoted son of the Church, a kind, big, jolly man who loved the good things of life and was always able NOT to take himself - or much else, too seriously.

May he rest in the peace of Christ!

The Reverend Father Timothy A. Hopkins, Administrator.