Fr. Ronald Bodenschatz, T.O.R. Driving Range Dedication Held
On Saturday, October 29, 2022 Saint Francis University held the official Blessing and Dedication of the Fr. Ronald Bodenschatz, T.O.R. Driving Range at the Immergrun Golf Club in Loretto, Pa.
Saint Francis University President Fr. Malachi Van Tassell, T.O.R., Ph.D., referred to the new driving range as a “project of opportunity” that came about because of the generosity of many who gave “time, treasure, and talent” over the past few decades to make it a reality.
The range opened earlier this year and has seen brisk usage, yet this ceremony marked the official dedication of the range which is adjacent to the 105-year-old, 9-hole Immergrun golf course which was originally part of the Charles Schwab estate.
The range, open to SFU’s Division 1 Men’s and Women’s Golf Teams as well as members of the public, is named in honor of the late “Fr. Ron,” a beloved spiritual leader who served in the Franciscans Third Order Regular for more than 50 years.
Members of the University community, as well as several generations of the Bodenschatz, Shrift, and Cowan families, gathered at the gates of the range to remember Fr. Bodenschatz. Their shared stories, delivered by his nephew Marty Shrift, depicted Fr. Bodenschatz, as a larger-than-life man, who was blessed with overflowing faith, compassion, a green thumb, and a wonderful sense of humor.
Fr. Joseph Lehman, Minister Provincial of the Third Order Regular Provence of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, offered an opening prayer to God in the spirit of an ancient Irish and Scottish blessing in honor of Fr. Bodenschatz.
“May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warmly across your face and the rains fall softly upon your fairways and greens. May your golf drives be long and straight, your iron shots true, and your putts find the bottom of the cups.”
The construction of the new driving range was made possible by many generous donors including Bob Stewart, a 1963 Saint Francis graduate who is the helmsman of Stewart Companies in York, Pa. “I’m glad that I could do this for the school,” Mr. Stewart said on Saturday of his gift that helped move the project to fruition, “and when they asked me to put my name on it, I said, I know someone who deserves it. “
His first thoughts went to Fr. Bodenschatz who came to Sacred Heart Church in Spring Grove where he had tremendous impact on Stewart's journey to grow in his Catholic faith. Fr. Bodenschatz shared his deep connection with Saint Francis as well as a love for the great outdoors. Mr. Stewart felt the driving range was a perfect memorial considering that Fr. Bodenschatz expressed his faith through nature, often creating shrines and gardens including those in the Sunken Gardens of Assisi which overlook the beautiful golf course and range.