Editor's Note: In this "Story with a Purpose", St. Patrick parishioner Ronnie Muro talks about a voice he heard many times in his life, a voice he will never forget. We hope you enjoy this "Story with a Purpose".
The Voice By Ronnie Muro
There is a TV show on now called “The Voice”. I hear it’s pretty good, but I have to admit I haven’t watched it. I’m still an “American Idol” fan, but that’s not what this story is about. It’s about another voice.
When I hear “the voice” I think of the Palm Sunday readings. The Gospel for that Sunday is the reading of the Passion of Christ. It is pretty long, so it is divided into parts. The priest normally takes the passages spoken by Jesus. The narrator does most of the reading. And then there is ‘the voice’. This person reads all the parts spoken by other people in the Gospel. This includes Peter, Pontius Pilate, etc.
A few years back I was assigned to read the part of the voice. Afterwards, Brandon Yow, a fellow parishioner, came up to me and teasingly said that he would from now on call me ‘the voice’ because I had done such a great job. I knew it was all in good fun, but being called ‘The Voice’ was pretty cool. But if either of the two of us were to earn that nickname, it would certainly be Brandon. He is a very talented singer and often shares that talent with the church.
In truth, at our parish, ‘The Voice’ could only refer to one person. That is Tony Rubino. I can’t remember when I first heard Tony sing. It was many years ago at church and it may have been Christmas Eve or perhaps Easter Sunday. Tony didn’t sing much at church in those days, but when he did it was breath-taking. The entire congregation sat mesmerized as the words flowed out over us like a soothing balm, comforting our soul and easing our minds.
Tony sung with passion, with heart, with sincerity and humility. You were lost in the words and caught up in the emotion. His style was unique and unlike any I had heard before. Truly it was a blessing the hear him sing.
It seems that he always stood at a microphone off to the side. I suppose he did not want to be the center of attention – I never asked him. He preferred to let the music, the lyrics, the emotion be the center of attention.
So we would sit quietly as Tony approached the mic. Then ‘The Voice’ would fill the church with words that filled our minds and souls.
“Mary did you know that your baby boy…”
Those words on Christmas Eve brought you immediately to the stable in Bethlehem and the mystery and miracle of the birth of Christ.
At Easter, we heard:
“Go ahead, drive the nails in my hands; Laugh at me... Where you stand. Go ahead, and say it isn't Me; The day will come... When you will see”
There was so much passion. It was overwhelming each time we heard Tony sing and we never ever got enough.
To be honest, I had not heard many of these songs before Tony sung them. To me they will always be “Tony’s songs”. The title of the Easter song is “I’ll Rise Again”. I have never heard a song delivered with so much passion as the time Tony sung it just days after his house had been destroyed by a tornado. Some things you just never forget.
On a personal note, Tony was gracious enough to sing at my daughter’s wedding. He didn’t do a lot of weddings but made an exception for us. I’m not sure why, but we’ll always treasure that and be ever grateful for his “Ave Maria” that night.
Sadly Tony was taken from us all too soon recently. It was sudden and a shock to everyone. The entire parish community grieved with his family over such a tragic and unexpected loss. As Father Vernon Huguley said, “A golden voice has been silenced.”
But has it? At Tony’s memorial service, we once again heard his voice filling the church “I’LL RISE AGAIN” he proclaimed just as he had on that Easter Sunday in 1998. His voice will live on thanks to cd’s and recordings. But mostly it will live on in the hearts of those who were privileged to experience him sing over the years.
Tony’s mother, Mary, passed away shortly after Tony. I wonder if upon reaching heaven, the Lord said to her “Mary, did you know that your baby boy would touch so many people with his golden voice?”
I guess that is all we can hope for on this earth - to leave something behind. Not money or possessions, but people. People who we have touched, who have moved us and in some small way made the world a better place. Thanks, Tony. We still hear The Voice.
Dedicated to the memory of Anthony Frank “Tony” Rubino