Ralph is survived by his wife, Patricia L. Rath of South Bend. They have no children. Ralph was born on May 22, 1932 in a farmhouse outside of Eason, Minnesota. The farmhouse was built in 1869 by his great-grandfather, Karl Rath, who homesteaded the farm which is still owned by the Rath family. His mother, Beatrice Ludwig Rath, died the next day. The doctor did not expect baby Ralph to survive more than 24 hours, so he was baptized by 3 different people the first week. Six days after Ralph was born, his grandmother, Gertrude Ludwig Hendel, took him to her home in Caledonia, Minnesota to raise him.
Besides his mother, Ralph was preceded in death by his father, Ralph C. Rath; his stepmother, Marcy Rath, and his grandmother, Gertrude Hendel. A brother, James, and a sister, Carole, both of Easton, also preceded him in death.
Ralph is survived by three sisters: Mary Majeski of Wells, Minnesota, Gertrude Desjardin of Gainsville, Florida and Nicole (Howard) Haugh of Mankato, Minnesota; and by three brothers: Cletus (Eleanor) Rath of Easton, Minnesota, Alan (Ann) Rath of Mankato, Minnesota and David (Kay) Rath of Stormville, New York. As a young man in Caledonia, Ralph always wanted to be a writer. A visiting priest, however, suggested that Ralph might have a vocation to the priesthood. The priest was a member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Ralph then spent six years in the minor seminary, one year in a novitiate and six years in the major seminary. He was ordained a Catholic priest on May 26, 1958, at the Oblate seminary in Pass Christian, Mississippi. The Order sent him to California, where he taught at two Catholic high schools and helped out at local parishes on the weekends. Ralph earned an MA in English at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles.
In 1967 Ralph felt inspired by God to pursue a writing career as a lay person. After consulting with many order, diocesan and Vatican officials, it was agreed that he should leave the priesthood. In October, 1970, he married Dorothy Kauflin in San Francisco. She died of cancer in February, 1986 at home in Vancouver, Washington. In his lengthy writing career, Ralph worked at two daily newspapers and seven religious publications. When he was religion writer at the Oakland, California Tribune in the 1970’s he was named to Who’s Who in the West.
While covering religion stories for the Tribune, he became acquainted with the charismatic movement and joined a charismatic renewal community in San Francisco. In 1977, the community moved to South Bend to be part of the ecumenical People of Praise charismatic community. Ralph and Dorothy also moved at that time and Ralph became active in religious and charismatic renewal journalism. Some time after losing Dorothy, Ralph married Patricia Rath and in the 1990’s, toured the country doing research, writing about and lecturing on new religious movement. He has written 13 books and more than 800 feature articles.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11:00 a.m. Tuesday, August 20, 2019 in St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Church, Niles, Michigan. Burial will follow in St. Joseph Valley Memorial Park, Granger, Indiana. A visitation will be held from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. Monday in the People of Praise Center, South Bend, Indiana, where a Wake Service will take place at 7:00 p.m. Kaniewski Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. To send online condolences, please visit kaniewski.com
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