On Sept. 16, Catholic Extension recognized Father Ron Foshage, MS, also known as the “Jasper Priest,” as the recipient of the 2020-21 Lumen Christi Award. The award is Catholic Extension’s most prestigious award.
Father Foshage is being recognized for his many years of work with the poor, with homeless veterans and with bringing the community together after the death of James Byrd Jr. in 1998. He has shown that even the smallest of gestures can make a huge impact.
“At this pivotal moment, amid so much pain and tension in our nation, Catholic Extension is honored to recognize as our Lumen Christi honoree this humble servant of God who has stood up against hate and division,” said Father Jack Wall, president of Catholic Extension. “Father Foshage has been a leading voice of reconciliation for decades, and we are proud to lift his story up as a powerful example of how faith communities can transform our society by promoting unity and healing divisions.”
Father Foshage is a part of the Jasper Ministerial Alliance, a group of religious leaders from several churches of different denominations. Through his involvement with the alliance, he quickly developed a strong relationship with the town’s community.
The city of Jasper was rocked following the dragging death of Byrd in 1998 and the racial tension that followed.
“It was terrifying and heartbreaking all at once,” Father Foshage said.
Following the incident, the Ministerial Alliance began to work on healing the wounds of the community. Father Foshage and Dr. Kenneth Lyons, pastor of Greater New Bethel Baptist Church, which was attended by Byrd and his family, brought the community together through prayer and dialogue.
“We opened our very soul and examined our community to see what needed to be changed and how we transform the evil ingrained in the lives of some,” Father Foshage said.
Father Foshage is described as a faithful servant who cares for veterans and the less fortunate of the community. He is working with Wes Bell, Executive Director at Kirbyville Housing Authority and of the Southeast Texas Homeless Coalition, along with others to build “tiny” homes for homeless veterans in Kirbyville.
Father Foshage even makes time in his busy schedule to cut more than 30 lawns a week for those in need and to deliver food and milk to the poor.
Father Foshage takes care of St. Michael, Jasper; St. Raymond, Sam Rayburn; Our Lady of La Salette, Kirbyville; Our Lady of the Pines, Woodville; and Toledo Village Station.