Remembering Edward Ritchie: A Man of Resolution and Zeal

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Remembering Edward Ritchie: A Man of Resolution and Zeal
Remembering Edward Ritchie: A Man of Resolution and Zeal

On March 19, 2022, Edward Ritchie fought his last battle on this side of eternity. The 86-year-old New York native was a veteran member of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP). He died on the feast of Saint Joseph at York Hospital in Pennsylvania after a fierce battle with dementia. He will be greatly missed.

Those who knew Edward Ritchie could not help but be impressed by his tenacity, devotion and resolution. He was someone who knew what he wanted and never let go once he had it.

New York Background

Edward Ritchie was born in Mount Kisco, New York, on February 18, 1936, in a humble home to blue-collar parents. While still a boy, the Ritchie family moved to the Bronx. He received little Catholic education and was only baptized at the age of 10. However, devout practices like the quiet recitation of the Rosary by his Catholic mother Elizabeth left a deep impression on him.

Edward Ritchie: A Man of Resolution and Zeal
Edward Ritchie as a young man with his mother Elizabeth (Roche) Ritchie.

He spent much of his time on the city streets, and he exhibited that rough and tumble spirit of the New Yorker by which he was not afraid of saying what he thought and defending it even when it came to fisticuffs. This fighting spirit would serve him well in the cause of the Church after a conversion.

Shortly after finishing high school in the New York public school system, Edward went to work for the Long Island Railroad as a train conductor. Nevertheless, he was not yet the staunch Catholic he would later become.

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One day on a train platform when he was 26, an acquaintance asked him why he was not a serious Catholic and what would happen if he passed into eternity at that moment. That impromptu meeting was an occasion of a signal grace that made him study his Faith and begin to apply his tenacity to fight for the Truth. Railroad cars and platforms soon became Edward’s forum for the creation of a dedicated and active group of Catholic men. He was not afraid to talk to his fellow workers and passengers about matters of Faith and even recruit them to the Catholic cause.

On August 22, 1964, he married the most devout Catholic he could find, Maria Rose Koestner, also from the Bronx. He was attracted to her big Italian family with its wonderful cuisine served at their large family gatherings. With the postwar era optimism, they both had illusions of peacefully raising a large Catholic family.

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But that peace was shattered with the explosion of the sexual revolution that threatened society and his growing family. His concern grew deeper when Mr. Ritchie saw that the effects of this crisis had penetrated the Church and the Catholic school system. He became increasingly concerned for the future of his country, the sanctification of his family and the innocence of his children. However, he did not wait for the Truth to come to him; he went after it. His nature was not to be satisfied with half-measures but to do whatever it took to find solutions. He was not content to go with the flow, and he led his young family in prayer for answers. And the Blessed Mother rewarded his determination.

Hope in Fatima

With the promise of Our Lady at Fatima that, “In Portugal, the dogma of the faith will always be preserved,” he and his wife spent every last dime and traveled to Fatima in September 1973. They were searching for a country and community close to Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart with Catholic values to raise a family. A newspaper ad of Youth Needs Fatima advertising the presence of Americans living in Fatima led to his spontaneous decision to look overseas for the answer. Armed with that simple ad containing only a P.O. Box number, he was off to Portugal for two weeks with his wife.

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Little did Mr. Ritchie know, but Youth Needs Fatima was composed of a loose network of American Catholic families oriented by representatives of Tradition, Family, Property (TFP) who were also concerned with the moral crisis ravaging civil society and the Church. Once he and his wife arrived in Portugal, it took days of searching to encounter these families. Once they did, however, they were highly impressed with the décor of their homes and the children’s behavior. When he asked the director of Youth Needs Fatima Philip Moran, “How do you get your children to behave so well?” The swift answer was, “We follow the orientation of TFP.” Mr. Moran then promised to put him in touch with the TFP in the United States. Among the many blessings received from Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal, meeting these TFP associates was a highly providential answer to many prayers.

Remembering Edward Ritchie: A Man of Resolution and Zeal
In 1974, Mr. Ritchie (on the right) with other TFP members at the 2nd National SEFAC of the
American TFP.

However, Portugal was contaminated with the same “errors of Russia” and the Cultural Revolution that had infected America. And that the best option would be to return home and help form a new movement with his newly-met Catholic friends. Indeed, only months after he returned, communism took over Portugal very violently.

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In November 1973, Edward did hear from TFP representatives back in the United States. One of the most important recommendations they made was the Consecration to Mary according to St. Louis de Montfort’s treatise, True Devotion to Mary. After much preparation Mr. Ritchie had his whole family make their consecration, and they signed it with their blood on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on June 21, 1974. True Devotion was a source of countless graces and a guiding light for the rest of his life.

Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

TFP members also illustrated that true devotion to Mary also demands the need to oppose the enemies of Our Lord, Our Lady and the Church. They enlightened Mr. Ritchie about the need to have the Church and its teachings at the center of the battle for Truth since the Church is the principal target of the enemies of God. They called him to fight in a Counter-revolution against the Revolution’s forces intent upon destroying the Church and Christian civilization. This call to action appealed to the feisty New Yorker. His answer was, “When do we start?” and he never looked back.

Soon he familiarized himself and adhered to the TFP’s foundational book, Revolution and Counter-Revolution, by Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira.

Edward Ritchie with his wife Maria Rose Ritchie and some of their children and grandchildren
Mr. Edward Ritchie with his wife Mrs. Maria Rose Ritchie and some of their children and grandchildren.

From then on, he dedicated himself and his family, which eventually grew to include five boys and three girls, to the Catholic cause in light of the Fatima message. He did everything possible to educate his children to be exemplary Catholics tied to tradition in a time of innovation. However, he also sought to instill in them zeal for the Church and get them involved in the fight for the culture.

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In February 1975, he went to Brazil for the first time to meet TFP founder Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira. He was overawed at meeting the great counter-revolutionary Catholic leader, which cemented his commitment to dedicate his life to defending the Church. Over the years, he went to Brazil many times and developed a personal relationship with Dr. Plinio that he valued greatly. As his sons grew older, he placed no obstacles in their paths when they expressed desires to become TFP members.

Mr. Ritchie, the Resolute Activist

Those who knew Mr. Ritchie will remember him as an activist. He never felt better than when he was in the middle of one of the TFP’s signature street campaigns. He could not get enough of the standards blowing in the wind, the bagpipes blazing or the excitement of a lively debate.

Whenever a campaign appeared, Mr. Ritchie always seemed to know about it and present himself for service. He would arrange his work schedule so that he could participate in pro-life marches, anti-blasphemy campaigns and traditional marriage rallies. He would be part of pilgrimages, anti-communist rallies and petition drives. It was not uncommon to see Mr. Ritchie on campaigns in foreign lands when visiting abroad, even if he did not know the language.

Remembering Edward Ritchie: A Man of Resolution and Zeal
Mr. Ritchie defending the honor of the Catholic Church against a Satanic ritual in Oklahoma in 2015.

During his retirement years, he expanded his participation by organizing rallies. He would hop on a plane and set up a field office in Cincinnati, Portland or any other place where he would call local activists to recruit them for a particular event. Once, he heard that a rosary rally captain did not have enough people for a monthly rally that had been uninterrupted for years. He did not hesitate and drove six hours to Cleveland to make sure the rally happened.

Finding the Real Soul of the Apostolate

His activism was not limited to physical presence. Mr. Ritchie would spend long hours on the phone with his reassuring voice to promote America Needs Fatima. He would recruit, fundraise and inform those who shared his devotion. His dogged insistence could overcome the most challenging obstacles as he mobilized people to participate in campaigns and rosary rallies.

In his later years, when his health did not permit long periods of physical exertion, he would find a way to get on the bus or appear on the campaign scene, to do whatever he could. It was hard to say no to him. He was always like an old warhorse pawing the ground at the sound of a bugle, itching to get into action.

A Chivalrous Uprightness

Mr. Ritchie had a chivalrous and social side that balanced out the rough exterior of the activist. He could be soft-spoken but knew how to make himself heard when provoked. Anyone could count on him to listen and converse, spending hours, if necessary, to answer questions and solidify convictions. He had a way of coaxing people to do the right thing and get more involved.

Mr. Edward Ritchie with children and grandchildren at the Bladensburg Cross rally
Mr. Edward Ritchie with children and grandchildren at the Bladensburg Cross public square rosary rally of reparation.

Thus, he had many friends because they saw that he only desired their sanctification. His zeal for souls led him to cross generational barriers by talking to people of all ages. He enjoyed the camaraderie of younger members who shared his enthusiasm for campaigns. Whenever there was a TFP social event, Mr. Ritchie would quietly be adding to the Catholic conviviality. At the same time, he displayed a polite formality that was a refreshing contrast to modern vulgarity. His respect for hierarchy was especially evident with his veneration for priests.

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He also insisted upon doing things right and proper. He went to great lengths to make sure people had accommodations, food or a cup of coffee. When things were not done right, he had no problem confronting the person responsible and put things in order. Indeed, his uprightness led him to challenge evil and disorder wherever he found it. With all naturality, he would turn off impure programs blaring from restaurant screens or dispose of blasphemous literature left in public places.

In the TFP family of souls, he treated everyone generously like family and opened his house to all who expressed interest in the Catholic cause. He moved several times to be closer to the TFP or even to establish a TFP presence in a new area.

Slave of Our Lady

Of all the titles that one might confer upon him at death, he would appreciate most that of “slave of Mary.” Upon joining the Counter-revolution, he consecrated himself to Our Lady as a slave of love according to the method of Saint Louis de Montfort. He took this consecration seriously and developed a tender devotion to the Blessed Mother.

Thus, Mr. Ritchie was a man of prayer and sacrifice. He could be seen spending long hours in the chapel. When there were all-night vigils before the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima who might be visiting, his name could always be found in the difficult early morning hours.

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He loved to pray the Rosary—both privately and in the public square. In the hospital before his death, the staff asked about this man who always prayed so much. A small statue of Our Lady of Good Success watched over him during his final illness. He was her slave to the very end, disposed to accept the suffering given him.

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Many other qualities could be mentioned to mark the 48 years he dedicated to the Counter-Revolution. However, everything in his life revolves around that resolution to serve Our Lady and the Catholic cause with all his strength, come what may. He knew what he wanted and grabbed on to it. He never let go.

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