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Ruth Beitia

Obituary of Ruth Beitia

A Reflection on the Life of Ruth Beitia 1931-2024


As you have sent me into the world, 

I have sent them into the world, (John 17:18)


I pray not only for these

but for all who through their words will believe in me. 

May they all be one. 

Father, may they be one in us, 

as you are in me and I am in you, 

so that the world may believe it was you who sent me.  (John 17:20-21)


Our dear friend Ruth was born in the town of Aramayona in the beautiful green mountains of the Basque region of Spain, the youngest of seven children. Her parents, Fernando Beitia and Lorenza Isasmendi, baptized her Maria Resurreccion a testament to their belief in the promise of re-birth to fullness of life with God and loved ones. So it is fitting to honour her baptismal name today,  and also the name she chose in Canada. Ruth always remained very close to her extended family and looked forward to meeting each new baby on visits to her homeland.  She proudly shared photos and names of the 115 or so members over four generations. 

At the age of 18, Ruth cast her lot with the recently established and fast-growing group that eventually became known as Institute of Secular Missionaries, a form of consecrated life in the Catholic Church that emphasizes the role of laypersons working in the Church and in the secular world, as individuals and in movements in solidarity with others, to share the good news that we are all God’s beloved family. Later this became more clear, with the teachings of Vatican II promoting the transformation of society towards justice and peace. The motto of the ISM, That All May be One (John 17;21 ) was certainly needed in Spain at its founding in 1939 at the end of the Civil War. In our day, the need for reconciliation and peace and an inclusive vision of the human family as one is equally necessary and challenging. 

In the late 1950s, Bishop Cody invited the ISM to come to the Diocese of London and to work at Holy Family Retreat House In Harrow and at the Diocesan Chancery Office in London. They came and set to work while still learning English. The group would then branch out to various other works in the Diocese. Ruth arrived in Canada in 1962, with the third small group of ISM women to settle here. 

Most of Ruth’s mission was lived out at Holy Family Retreat House where she warmly welcomed all who arrived and offered a host of services: organizing, decorating, gardening, planning, coordinating, training and hosting volunteers, shopping, acting as sacristan, and operating a bookstore, She embodied the virtue of hospitality towards the great diversity of groups that came to the retreat house. These included large groups of teens from schools and parishes in Detroit and Ontario,  engaged and married couples, AA groups, laity, seminarians, priests, Sisters, feminist groups and environment groups.  Her library was full of books on spirituality,  liberation theology, feminist spirituality, ecology and inter-faith dialogue.  

Upon leaving the retreat house, Ruth lived in LaSalle with her good friend, Cathy Cloutier,(d. 2023) a longtime volunteer at the retreat house. She studied to qualify as a PSW and worked for five years in nursing homes in Windsor where she was always a cheery and comforting presence. She moved to London at age 65 and continued part-time eldercare work. She lived for 28 years in the same apartment building as her ISM colleague and dear friend Aurelia Hernandez.  Ruth deeply appreciated Aurelia’s loving care and companionship, especially in her last years and days. 

As  Ruth’s companions in the ISM, Aurelia, Lois and I extend our heartfelt thanks to St. Joseph Hospice for the compassionate and capable care the staff provided. Our sincere thanks go out to the Sisters of St. Joseph for their hospitality in offering their chapel and facilities for us to celebrate Ruth’s life. 

Details of the Service: A Mass will be celebrated on Friday,  May 3rd at 2:00 p.m. at the Residence of the Sisters of St. Joseph, 485 Windermere Rd, London, N5X 2T1. A little reception will follow. The officiant will be Fr. Frank O’Connor. Ruth has been cremated as she requested. 

Donations may be made to St. Joseph Hospice, Save-A Family Plan, Joe’s Cafe (former Sister of St. Joseph Hospitality Centre), or a charity of your choice.



2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Friday, May 3, 2024
Residence of the Sisters of St Joseph
485 Windemere Road
London, Ontario, Canada