Fr. Ron Ramson, C.M., writes a semimonthly column in the Perry County Register, published in Perryville, Missouri. His wisdom and insight is republished here for your enjoyment, enlightenment, and inspiration. 

Dear Friends,

I would like to introduce myself, as I am new to this column. My name is Ronald Ramson, C.M. The C.M. after my name means that I belong to the religious order known as the Vincentians (aka the Congregation of the Mission). I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. I finished High School at St. Vincent College in Cape Girardeau, Missouri and then I came to Perryville in 1950 for the Novitiate program at St. Mary’s of the Barrens. Perryville was not very big at that time as you ole timers may remember. We had the Shoe Factory, the Cheese Factory, and a few other small businesses that have gone by the wayside.

I have been a Catholic priest for 64 years. In those 64 years, I have taught at Seminaries and served in various administrative roles there. I have served in Parishes and at one time, I was a missionary in Kenya.

One of the best things I ever did was start young teen clubs in the worst slum High Schools in the Nairobi, Kenya. I thoroughly enjoyed these teens. They taught me what poverty really was.

I would sometimes invite them to our Seminary Campus. They thoroughly enjoyed the green grass, the flowers and plants, and the quiet…all things they didn’t have in the city slums. I made sure they had a nice lunch while they were there. After they got to know me a little better, it was not unusual for the teens to ask me if they could take half of their food home to their family. I always said “yes.”

Sometimes I would have the opportunity to talk one-on-one with them. They would talk about their dreams about wanting to be a doctor or a nurse, or even a lawyer. Even in their poverty, in their despair, they still had hope.

One of the Catholic High Schools invited me to speak at their assembly. I accepted. At this particular school, there were 125 Muslim boys. The Muslims sent their sons to the Catholic High School for a solid education and formation. What would I talk about to this mixed group of young adults? I prayed about it and it came to me…Ramadan & Lent.

We Christians celebrate 40 days of Lent. The Muslims celebrate 30 days of Ramadan, ten days shorter than us Christians do.

There is a similarity between the two. We Christians, during Lent, promote prayer, penance, and acts of charity. For Muslims, during Ramadan, they also have the same three means of observance.

As I talked to the teens, I was thrilled that they were all listening intently to me. I think the Muslims were very surprised to hear a Catholic priest talking about their holiest time of the year.

Muslims take Ramadan very seriously. How about us? Do we Christians take Lent very seriously? There is still time…we are now in the first days of Lent. How are you doing with prayer, penance, and acts of charity? Examine your spiritual life. Thank you for reading. God bless you!