(BEDFORD) – On Wednesday morning, Jessica Caraway had to break the news to her son Alex that the only priest he had ever known had passed away.
Alex Caraway, 14, is a member of St. Vincent de Paul Church and was a very good friend of Father Rick. The news was heartbreaking for Alex. On Thursday he asked his mother if they could do something to honor Father Rick.
“I asked him what he had in mind, and he said how about leaving flowers at the doors in front of the church. I replied ‘well, I do not know but we will see’,” said Jessica.
Jessica called Linda Fitzpatrick and sought permission to start the tribute in front of the church doors.
Father Rick has guided the flock at St. Vincent de Paul and St Mary’s in Mitchell for 15 years.
“For me, Father Rick is like a second dad to me. He was always concerned about everyone in the church. He wanted to make sure everyone in the church was doing okay,” Jessica added. “By the time we got to the church, there were already two bouquets of flowers left in front of the church.”
Father Rick was very engaging with the children of the church making sure he acknowledged all of them with a fist bump as he walked down the aisle at every service.
Father Rick was excited to see Alex get confirmed in the church. The ceremony was scheduled for April 26th.
Confirmation is the sacrament by which Catholics receive a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Through Confirmation, the Holy Spirit gives them the increased ability to practice their Catholic faith in every aspect of their lives and to witness Christ in every situation.
Father Rick was proud of being a part of Alex’s first communion.
First Communion is considered one of the holiest and most important occasions in a Roman Catholic’s life. It means that the person has received the Sacrament of the Eucharist, the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Most Catholic children receive their First Communion when they’re seven or eight years of age because this is considered the age of reason. Others can receive communion for the first time whenever they’ve met all the Church’s requirements.
The tribute to Father Rick was a Confirmation Project for Alex. He was excited to see the tributes pour in for Father Rick.
Alex and Father Rick also had somewhat of a friendly rivalry. Alex is a Cubs fan and Father Rick was a Whites Sox fan. The two went back and forth teasing each other on who was the better baseball team.
Father Rick purchased Alex a White Sox shirt while he was in Italy. Alex has the shirt hanging in his room.
“The church has lost a great priest. Adults have lost a great friend. The children have lost a great mentor, someone who really cared for them. It will take a long time of adjustment for us,” Jessica added.
Alex Carraway is a student at Bedford Middle School and plays basketball at the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence County.
Father Rick Eldred, 70, of Bedford, Indiana, formerly of Terre Haute, passed away early Wednesday morning, March 18, 2020.
He was Deanery and Pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church (Bedford) and St. Mary Catholic Church (Mitchell).
He was born August 24, 1949, in Terre Haute, IN. to John W. Eldred and Beatrice Bledsoe Eldred.
Survivors include his brother and sister-in-law, John T. and Debbie Eldred of Terre Haute; five nieces, Ann Blackwell, Elizabeth Eldred Bagniefski, Michelle R. Eldred, Leslie K. Eldred and Jessica Barger (Michael); and many cousins.
Father Rick was a graduate of St. Patrick School, the former Bishop Paul C. Schulte High School, and Indiana State University all in Terre Haute.
After graduating from college, Father Rick worked in his family moving and storage business in Terre Haute up into his 40s.
He enjoyed helping with Special Olympics and had served on different parish councils.
In the 1990s, he was asked about what he thought about being a priest. At first, he was not interested in becoming a priest, but, after much prayer, he started moving towards his calling and attended Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, WI and Sacred Heart School of Theology and Seminary in Hales Corner, WI.
He had to overcome his fear of speaking to crowds, especially during his last year in seminary in 1999 when he took a course on conducting Mass. Fr. Rick did not talk until he was 4 years old due to a horrible speech impediment.
He never lost his speech impediment, but it got better over time and he did a great job overcoming it.
He was Ordained June 5, 1999, and his early appointments included Associate pastor, Holy Family, St. Andrew and St. Mary, Richmond; 2000, Associate Pastor, St. Barnabas, Indianapolis; 2001, administrator, St. Thomas More, Mooresville; 2002 and Pastor, St. Thomas More, Mooresville; 2005.
Father Rick celebrated his 51st birthday with John Paul II at the Pope’s summer residence in Italy. He also concelebrated Mass with Pope Benedict XVI at the canonization of St. Theodora Guerin in Rome. Father Rick was instrumental in establishing Becky’s Place and the Men’s Warming Shelter.
His caring and compassion for the Bedford Community did not go unnoticed. Many individuals were touched by the genuine friendliness and compassion of Father Rick.
Due to current circumstances associated with the coronavirus, there are no public services scheduled at this time.
A public Memorial Mass and Visitation will be conducted at a later time and date to be announced.
At the present time, a private graveside service will be conducted at Calvary Cemetery in Terre Haute.
Arrangements are under the direction of Callahan & Hughes Funeral Home, 605 South 25th Street, Terre Haute.
If friends should so desire, memorial contributions may be made to Vocation Department Endowment for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Office of Vocations, 1400 N. Meridian Street, Indianapolis, IN 46202, firstname.lastname@example.org; St. Patrick School of the Terre Haute Deanery Endowment, 449 South 19th Street, Terre Haute, IN 47803, saintpat.org; or to the Sisters of Providence, 1 Providence Pl., St. Mary-of-the-Woods, IN 47876, spsmw.org.