In Memory of Bishop Ruben Tierrablanca González

On December 22nd, 2020, our brother Ruben Tierrablanca González, Bishop of Istanbul, died in the hospital in Istanbul weeks after having contracted CoVid-19. He had been in a medically induced coma and on a ventilator for the past two weeks.

A member of the Province of St. Peter and Paul in Mexico, Rubén was born on August 24, 1952 in Cortázar, Celaya, Mexico. He made solemn vows in 1977 and was ordained a priest the following year. In 1985 he completed studies for a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture at the Pontifical Biblical Institute (Rome) and was ordained bishop in 2016.

After teaching Old Testament studies in El Paso, Texas, and serving as Provincial Definitor, and Secretary of Formation for his Province, Rubén returned to the Antonianum where he served as Rector of students. Immediately afterwards, he was appointed Guardian of the General Curia where he was known for his care of the friars and especially for his love of music.

His commitment to ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue led him to volunteer for a new mission of the Order in Istanbul, to promote encounter and dialogue among the Christian churches, with Islam, and with different cultures. From 2003-2015, he served as Guardian in Istanbul and Coordinator for the presence of the Order in Turkey. Not only did he actively promote dialogue, he also served as Parish Priest at Saint Marie Draperis parish in Istanbul, and on various commissions in the Apostolic Vicariate of Istanbul. In 2016, he moved to Izmir to serve at the Franciscan parish and on April 4, 2016, he was appointed Apostolic Vicar of Istanbul.

On the feast of St. Andrew, November 30, 2020, already weakened by CoVid19, Bishop Rubén addressed a letter to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople of the Eastern Orthodox Church, His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew, asking forgiveness if in any way over the course of service as friar, pastor, teacher, or bishop he might have said or done something to offend his Holiness or members of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

The Minister General, Br. Michael A. Perry, inviting all the friars of the Order to remember Bishop Rubén at Mass and in their prayers, writes:

May his example of humble, gentle service and zeal for promoting dialogue and universal fraternity among all men and women inspire and challenge all of us to follow his example. Pope Francis, in his encyclical Fratelli Tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship, writes the following words, which, I believe, express the spirit that animated our dearly departed Brother Mgr. Rubén:  “[St. Francis] understood that ‘God is love and those who abide in love abide in God’ (1 Jn. 4 :16). In this way, he became a father to all and inspired the vision of a fraternal society. Indeed, ‘only the man who approaches others, not to draw them into his life, but to help them become ever more fully themselves, can truly be called a father’. “

May our dear brother Rubén Tierrablanca González rest in eternal peace.