This article was first published in the March 2024 issue of our quarterly newsletter, The Vincentian.

Centenarian Ruth Lang recalls her youth and work with the Vincentians

Ruth Lang turned 100 years old on November 30, 2023. She lives at Bradley House assisted living home in Brattleboro, VT, where her niece Judith Reichsman helps care for her. Her memory remained razor sharp until very recent times. Prior to that decline, Ruth wrote out a short biography from which the following summary was taken. She lovingly included the names of many Vincentian priests with whom she had worked and become friends over the years.

“I was born in Newark, NJ, on November 30, 1923. I grew up with two older siblings, Joe and Mary Jane. Our father worked for the railroad, so we lived in numerous cities. He was transferred to Dallas as I entered college.

“I’ve lived in Holy Trinity Parish since my parents moved there in 1946.

“I was hired to teach kindergarten half days and assist in the parish office. From 1953 until I retired 38 years later, I worked in the parish office full-time. From Fr. Thomas Stanton to Fr. Dan Borlik, each of the nine Vincentian pastors who served during those years brought his special gifts to the parish.

“The spirit of Holy Trinity has remained alive and well. Not just through its priests and the Daughters of Charity, but also through its many parishioners involved in various ministries.

“My brother Joe founded the parish’s Society of St. Vincent de Paul in the 1950s. His wife Betty was one of the first women to join after they opened membership to women.

“In November of 1977, Very Rev. James Richardson, C.M., visited our parish and bestowed on me the great honor of being named an Affiliate of the Vincentian Community.

“In my 90th year of life, I decided to establish a gift annuity to benefit the ministries and dedicated priests of Congregation of the Mission.”

From Ruth’s niece, and goddaughter, Judith Reichsman with help from her sister, Ann Reichsman

“Our mother, Mary Jane, always called Ruth by her nickname, Ruthie, so she was Aunt Ruthie to us. Ruthie and her brother Joe, Jr are my godparents. Ruthie was 25 when I was baptized at one month by a Vincentian, whose sleeve caught on fire during the ceremony!  So I was baptized in fire from the start… left the Church in college and will always credit Ruthie’s prayers for my return to the faith!

“Ruthie lovingly invited me to live with her in Dallas when I was studying for my master’s at SMU (her alma mater), so I had a number of years with her company and her sweet spirit.

“Ruth will always be grateful for the astounding surprise party, ‘Celebrating Ruth’ that Fr. Jerome arranged for the celebration of her first 25 years at Holy Trinity. It was a super successful surprise!

“Ruthie had close and nurturing relationships with the priests and nuns and lay people of Holy Trinity. Nowadays, Ruth’s memory is failing and she has long expressed her readiness to ‘go to heaven.’ A fitting ending for a life of service!”

Photo cutlines:

(top photo) Judith in 2008 on the occasion of her brother Joseph’s posthumous installation as an affiliate of the Congregation of the Mission.

(middle photo) Judith (left) with her sister Mary and her brother Joseph Lang, Jr., who served as National Vice President of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

(bottom photo) Judith Reichsman poses next to a tree planted in her honor at Holy Trinity, circa 1980s. Parish staff reports the tree is now “huge.”