Rafael Ramos, one of the two police officers killed by Ismaaiyl Brinsley in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, had dreams of graduating from seminary school and becoming a police chaplain.
Posthumously, at least one of those dreams will be coming true.
Representatives of Faith Evangelical College and Seminary announced on Wednesday, December 24, that they will be awarding Ramos a bachelor of arts in religion.
Ramos was a long-distance student at the college in Tacoma, Washington, and was two courses shy of completing his religion degree when he and fellow NYPD officer Wenjian Liu were fatally shot on December 20. He was expected to graduate with honors.
Reverend Robert Schenck, who is visiting New York on behalf of the school to inform Ramos’s family of the decision, says he hopes the degree will offer the family “a sense of completion — of fulfillment.”
“So much has ended prematurely here,” said Schenck, an alumnus of Faith, by phone on Friday. “A life was ended; a marriage was ended; a fatherhood was ended; a career was ended…and of course, he was never able to reach his ultimate professional goal, which was to become a chaplain, and after he retired, to become a full-time pastor.”
A father of two, Ramos was an usher at Glendale’s Christ Tabernacle Church, where he had been a member for 14 years. While working on his religion degree, Ramos had also finished a 10-week program that accredited him to be a lay chaplain with the police force. Chaplains offer spiritual and emotional support to members of the police force, especially during traumatic events. According to the Christian Post, Ramos was set to graduate from the program on the very day he died.
College president Michael J. Adams says at first, when he heard the news of Ramos’s death, it didn’t sink in that he was learning about the fate of his student: “Initially we had to say, ‘Is this our Rafael?’ ”
When the pieces came together, Adams called Ramos’s wife, Maritza. “I was very choked up, as was she,” he remembers. “She told me how important his education was to him and what a goal that was for him to complete that degree. And I said, ‘Well, it’s going to be completed, because we’re going to honor that degree.’ ”
Adams says Ramos was a diligent student whose entrance essay revealed a fervent commitment to his religious beliefs.
“His life was about glorifying God,” Adams told the Voice on Friday. “We grieve, we mourn, but not as those who have no hope — we do have hope, just as he had.”
Here’s the full release:
Posthumous Degree will be Conferred on Slain NYPD Officer–College Delegation to Attend Funeral Today & Tomorrow
NEW YORK, Dec. 26, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ — A delegation of religious leaders will travel from Washington, DC, to New York today to represent Faith Evangelical College and Seminary (Tacoma, WA) at the funeral of slain NYPD officer Rafael Ramos who was a distance student in its religion program. The school had assisted Officer Ramos in meeting academic requirements to become a police chaplain.
Members of the delegation will meet with the Ramos family to officially convey the school’s condolences and its decision to award the degree. Ramos was only two courses shy of a BA in Religion when he was killed by an assailant.
Delegation to Attend Ramos Funeral 12/26, 7PM and 12/27, 10AM
Christ Tabernacle, 64-34 Myrtle Ave, Glendale (Queens), NY 11385
Rev. Rob Schenck, DMin.
Chaplain to Capitol Hill, (Washington, DC)
Chairman, Evangelical Church Alliance International (Endorsing agency for police, military, and institutional chaplains)
Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney
Director, Christian Defense Coalition and Pastor of Church on the Hill, Washington, DC
Ambassador Suzan Johnson-Cook
3rd US Ambassador-at-Large for International Freedom
Retired NYPD Police Chaplain
President, Wisdom Women Worldwide, Inc.