Schneider leaves legacy of kindness and caring
Pastor at St. Ann's passed away March 7
BALDWIN -- Father Ron Schneider, longtime pastor at St. Ann's Catholic Church in Baldwin, passed away Saturday.
A vigil in his honor was held Wednesday evening at St. Ann's Catholic Church, 1001 Michigan Ave., Baldwin.
The funeral will take place Thursday, with visitation from 11 a.m. to noon and a Mass at noon, at the church. A luncheon will follow at St. Ann's Senior Center, 690 9th St., Baldwin.
Schneider leaves behind a legacy of caring and giving, friends said.
Church member Marianne Cooke has known Schneider since his time in Grand Rapids, when she and her sister played guitar at his Mass.
"He had a sparkle in his eyes, and an impish grin," Cooke said. "Whenever you brought him something, he would get that sparkle in his eye, and he was always so grateful.
"He was very positive, and happy with the little things," she added. "He didn't want a lot of fanfare or attention. He was very simple."
Schneider had a very kind and giving nature, she said, "always trying to help everybody."
He was there to help 24/7, and was willing to go to out-of the-way places to serve others.
"He was very dedicated to those who couldn't get to church and would go out of his way to minister to them," Cooke said. "He was just a good guy, and we are going to miss him."
In his 50-plus years of ministry, Schneider considered serving faith communities his biggest joy. In addition to ministering as a priest, he has been a chaplain at three different hospitals, and has worked in youth ministries and foreign missions.
Schneider once said working with youth energized him, and being able to minister to those who are sick or dying was a "journey worth walking."
Church member Rose Dingman, who has worked with Schneider for many years in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), a program to assist people in learning about the Catholic faith, said he was not just a pastor, but was also a friend.
"He was there for everyone," Dingman said. "If someone needed help, he was there to do repairs or whatever they needed. If someone needed a kind ear to listen to them, he was there for them. People were drawn to him like a magnet."
Schneider was open to people of all faiths, beliefs and races, Dingman added. He was a person you could disagree with and he allowed you to have an opinion different from his -- "he would listen to you, but he would still hold his line on his beliefs," she said.
In addition to his ministry as Priest at St. Ann's and St. Ignatius, Schneider was involved in many other service organizations in the community, including Habitat for Humanity, the Food Pantry and Communities Overcoming Violent Encounters (COVE), where he served on the board.
"He was really involved in the community, not just for church members, but for anybody in need," Dingman said. "He was well-known throughout the community for his willingness to serve. He was involved in many projects in the community to help people get a new start, and was very excited for the opportunity to help build new homes for community members.
"Despite all his willingness to serve, he didn't put on airs," she added. "He was plain and simple, a member of the community in all respects."
Dingman said it will be difficult to replace Schneider because of his commitments and his involvement in the community.
"He will be a tough act to follow," she said. "This is not only a great loss to the parish, but a loss to the community, as well."
Bread of Life Food Pantry Director Lynne Mills reiterated that sentiment saying, Schneider was a "very special person" who had a compassion for people in need.
"He cared a lot about those who needed help, and he set a good example for others of the right way to live," Mills said. "He walked the walk.
"I personally learned a lot from him about how to think about our neighbors," Mills said. "Father Schneider gave me the foundation in how to love my neighbors and be involved in the community in a meaningful way. He showed how, in today's world, we can still live like the bible tells us to live. He helped us to see that through his daily life."
"Bishop David Walkowiak, when he did the Mass for Schneider on Sunday, reminded the church members of the strong foundation the Father has built, and we will carry on what he taught us to do," Mills said.