Fr. Lange had strong devotion to the Blessed Mother

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Several dozen priests gathered at Holy Spirit Church in Annandale May 11 to bid farewell to their brother priest, Father Robert A. Lange, who died May 4 in Richmond at age 70.

Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde celebrated the funeral Mass. Father Robert J. Rippy, rector of the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington, was the homilist. Frank Sowa, a longtime parishioner at Holy Spirit Church, was the lector.

"Every death impacts all those who knew that person and it reminds us of our own mortality, that everything must die," Father Rippy said in his homily. It also reminds us of our own immortality, that one day we'll share in Christ's resurrection, he said.

Father Rippy recalled that Father Lange was very organized and loved to tell jokes.

"He told me what to say and not to say in my homily," Father Rippy said. "He liked to tell jokes, even some of the same ones over and over again."

In some way, Father Lange influenced all of you who are here today, he said.

Father Lange had a great devotion to the Blessed Mother, who helped him endure his physical suffering, said Father Rippy.

"It was no coincidence that he was called back to his Father's house during the month of Mary," he said.

In remarks at the end of Mass, Bishop Loverde reminded the congregation that May 10 marked the 29th anniversary of Father Lange's ordination to the priesthood by Bishop John R. Keating.

The bishop said that even in retirement Father Lange continued to minister to the Little Sisters of the Poor and the residents of St. Joseph's Home for the Elderly in Richmond.

Father Lange was given the cross of illness to bear, and he bore it with patience, Bishop Loverde said.

Father Lange served as pastor of Holy Spirit Church, as well as Our Lady of Angels Church in Woodbridge, during his nearly 30 years of priestly ministry in the diocese.

Born June 13, 1944, in Richmond, Father Lange attended St. Paul School and graduated from Benedictine High School, both in Richmond. He earned a bachelor's degree from Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, N.C., in 1967, and spent 15 years working in the real estate business before entering Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., to study for the priesthood.

Father Lange is survived by his brother, Joseph, of Midlothian, and his sister, Mary Lou Riddick, of Richmond. Burial took place at Fairfax Memorial Park. Memorial contributions in Father Lange's name may be made to the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1503 Michaels Road, Richmond, VA 23229.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015