Tribute to Rev Ron Corne

Written by Rev John Poole | May, 2022

I had known Ron for four years since he came and did a locum duty for me in 2018.  Of course, I didn’t meet him until later, though we corresponded and spoke on the phone. I was delighted when he got the full-time appointment in north Tenerife, not least because I would have another incumbent priest colleague on the island to work with and draw support from.

It was so difficult for him arriving just at the start of the pandemic and lockdown and having to cope with a family illness back home too.  Not an ideal situation in which to get adjusted and settled in a new environment and ministry. When things improved and he finally got licenced in August 2020, we agreed to support one another, work together as best we could and meet regularly.  Our monthly lunch meetings became a fixed item in our schedules and would take place in turn in Puerto de la Cruz or in my own village of Callao Salvaje in the south.  Although in many ways we were complete opposites, we enjoyed each other’s company and sense of humour, and talked about almost anything under the sun as well as the practical issues that concerned us in our churches and ministries and simply living here.

I was in England last month and was able to attend Ron’s funeral during which Bishop David gave a fitting tribute.  He recalled a conversation with Ron that I immediately recognized because he and I had discussed the same issue on at least one other occasion, and we were broadly in agreement.  Ron pointed out that in the Gospel Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep.’  He did not say ‘manage my sheep.’ The Church today at various levels seemed to be asking its priests to be like chief executive officers of a company rather than pastors, spiritual guides and teachers within the church and wider community. It was causing many dedicated clergy to give up, while the ‘keenies,’ as Ron called them, burnt out.    

But Ron was certainly a priest with a vision, and we both agreed some time ago to work together on a new vision for being the Anglican presence in Tenerife.  We further agreed that it would not look like a business plan.  An initial programme and venue was arranged for both our church councils.  Sadly, this has had to be put on hold due to Ron’s illness and untimely passing.  

On a lighter note, Ron’s sense of vision did not include a good sense of direction.  Although he had done a locum duty for me, lived in our house for a month and explored the area, he could never find his way from Puerto to Callao Salvaje without the aid of his Sat-Nav.  And he depended on it every time he came down.

After the Synod this year via the dreaded Zoom, we were in touch to arrange our next meeting.  On 16th February I sent him a WhatsApp asking if we could change the day.  A couple of hours went by and I then received a message that he was in hospital. He had made no mention to me that he was ill. It wasn’t clear at the time, but he had begun the journey for which no Sat-Nav would be needed.  He had entered that mysterious road of human suffering which is often dark, painful and lonely.  But the Shepherd Lord whom Ron had served so faithfully had already travelled that road.  He would now take care of Ron, walk with him on his own difficult journey, and lead him safely home.

May he rest in peace and rise in glory!