Funeral held for Fr. Ron Beechinor (1936-2021)

Fr. Ronald Lawrence Beechinor, pictured with his canine companion Sean.

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski

A funeral was held June 1, 2021 for Fr. Ron Beechinor, on the same date that he was ordained as a priest for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon 58 years ago.

Fr. Beechinor died May 27 in hospital at the age of 84 years.

Born and raised in Saskatoon and ordained June 1, 1963 by Bishop Francis Klein, Fr. Beechinor’s responsibilities positions and responsibilities in the diocese of Saskatoon over the years have included serving as Diocesan Administrator between bishops on two occasions – from July 2000 to October 2001 (between Bishops Weisgerber and LeGatt), and from September 2009 to March 2010 (between Bishops LeGatt and Bolen).

He also served as Vicar General for three bishops in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon  – Bishop James Weisgerber, Bishop Albert LeGatt and Bishop Donald Bolen.

As well, for some 50 years, Fr. Beechinor was associated with Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools where he helped foster an environment that embraced the values of the Catholic Church, and provided spiritual guidance to all who worked within the school system.

Parishes that Fr. Beechinor served over the years – sometimes more than once – have included St. Philip Neri, St. Francis Xavier, Holy Family, St. Paul Cathedral, St Peter the Apostle, St. Anne, Our Lady of Lourdes and St. John Bosco in the city of Saskatoon; as well as St. Anne, Delisle; St. Anthony, Blucher; St. Theresa, Asquith; St. Anne, Arelee; St. Mark, Langham; St. Columkille, Radisson; St. Francis, Vanscoy, St. George Chapel, Dundurn; St. Aloysius, Allan; St. Alphonse, Viscount; and St. Mary, Colonsay.

Among the celebrants at the funeral Mass were Bishop Mark Hagemoen of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, Archbishop Donald Bolen of the Archdiocese of Regina, and Archbishop Emeritus James Weisgerber (who served as both bishop of Saskatoon and of Winnipeg).

Priests from across the diocese of Saskatoon, former colleagues, friends and family were also in attendance at the celebration, which was live-streamed because of restricted attendance under COVID-19 regulations (find the video below).

As per Fr. Beechinor’s request, Fr. Ken Beck was the homilist at the funeral Mass.

“We gather in this holy place to give thanks for Fr. Ron,” Beck said, reflecting on the readings from Isaiah, from the Second Letter of John and the Gospel of Matthew in light of Fr. Beechinor’s faith and how he lived his life. “Fr. Ron believed those words; Fr. Ron lived those words,” Beck said of the powerful scripture passages about being loved by God.

The Beatitudes in the Gospel of Matthew bring together what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, explained Beck, adding that those who knew Fr. Beechinor will recognize and treasure the memory of the same qualities of discipleship in his life and service.

At the conclusion of the celebration, Archbishop Emeritus James Weisgerber reflected on the long friendship he shared with Fr. Beechinor.

“Ron and I shared a lot of history,” Weisgerber, said. “As teenagers we were both in Muenster (at St. Peter’s Abbey) where we got our education. And on June the first, 1963 – 58 years ago today – we were both ordained, along with Ralph Kleiter.”

Weisgerber added: “Many of you are too young to know that 1963 was smack in the middle of the Second Vatican Council and we had a lot of energy to expend to try and figure out how to implement the council – that took up so much of our time.”

When Weisgerber arrived in Saskatoon as the new bishop, one of the first tasks for the new bishop was to name a Vicar General for the diocese. “So in the light of the council, I decided to consult the priests – sent out a letter asking for the three suggestions, and Ron was the one who was chosen.”

“It was a little strange because he had not spent a lot of time working in the diocese…  he was completely dedicated, wonderfully dedicated to Catholic education all those years – but he accepted. And he was absolutely wonderful. He was supportive, he was open, he did not have any personal agenda, and he always told the truth, even when it hurt a lot, and he had a great capacity to laugh and to smile. It was great, great to be with him.”

Before the final commendation, Archbishop Donald Bolen also spoke about Fr. Beechinor, who served as Vicar General during Bolen’s first four-and-a-half years as bishop of Saskatoon.

“Three things stand out among many that I remember him for: the first was the warmth of his personality, his kindness, his gentle spirit, his goodness of heart; secondly, his willingness to do anything that we asked, and as Vicar General he knew what we needed, and he knew the most difficult situations that arose and was often willing to take those on,” said Bolen.

“Thirdly, he was so deeply human. He had a great capacity for friendship for relationship, he cherished and loved his family… he was so profoundly human in all its glory and all its struggles… We entrust him to God, who loves what it is to be human, who loves Ron – may he rest in peace and rise in glory.”

Archbishop Emeritus James Weisgerber, Bishop Mark Hagemoen and Archbishop Donald Bolen were among the celebrants at the funeral Mass for Fr. Ron Beechinor June 1 in Saskatoon.

Obituary of Ronald Lawrence Beechinor – LINK

Born August 15, 1936, Ron Beechinor was raised in Saskatoon by his parents John and Anne, along with nine siblings.

He is survived by his nephews: Mike Beechinor, Tim (Lisa) Beechinor, John Beechinor, Kevin (Stephanie) Beechinor, Tom (Lindsay) Beechinor, Tom Feasby, Mike Feasby, Paul Feasby, Jim Feasby, Christopher Wells, Brian Doherty, Douglas Muzyka, Jim Muzyka, and  his nieces; Colleen Cartwright, Melaine Beechinor, Linda Victorino, Kathleen Sarson, Susan Carter, Bridget Munnoch, Megan Wells, Jennifer Wells, Barbara Wilcox, Catherine Kiar, Elizabeth Rene` Roy, Isobel Ferrara, Patricia Diamond, Lara Taylor, Donna Muzyka, Joanne Rush. Also left to mourn are numerous friends, Sean, his ever faithful canine companion, and a lifetime of acquaintances influenced by his presence.