Obituary of Hugh Richard Elford
Tucson- Fr. Ricardo Elford, age 85, passed away on Tuesday, September 19, 2023 with Dr. Ric Grapp and Fr. Paul Curry at his bedside. Fr. Ricardo was born to his parents the late Hugh and Mary (Givulinovich) Elford in Seattle, Washington May 21,1938. At a young age he felt called to the ministry and spent 6years at the Redemptorist Seminary (a Catholic religious order) in Oakland,Ca then went on to the novitiate for one year in Missouri furthering his study. He continued his studies and preparation for the priesthood 6 more years in Oconomowoc WI. He excelled in Spanish and spent summers working with the Spanish- speaking migrants as part of a Redemptorist outreach program. He was ordained to the priesthood in Milwaukee, Wi July 2, 1964. He spent one more year in Oconomowoc, then to assignments in St. Louis, Missouri & Whittier, Ca. at Redemptorist parishes. In 1967 he found his home in Tucson with Fr. John Kane at Picture Rocks Retreat (now the Redemptorist Renewal Center). He fell in love with the people and the desert. His ministry included work with the Yaqui people on both sides of the Arizona- Mexican border, work in the barrios of Tucson, becoming an outspoken advocate for the poor, the migrants, and social justice for all. Fr. Ricardo with John Fife, pastor at Southside Presbyterian Church, Jim Corbett and others began the
Sanctuary Movement that spread through the US and Canada helping refugees fleeing for their lives from the war and violence especially in El Salvador and Guatemala. In 2003 at the age of 65 he & his friend, Dr. Evan Kligman, founded Clinica Amistad for the poor and un-insured in Tucson which thanks to many, many wonderful volunteers is still seeing to the needs of the poor and un-insured. He continued to bring groups of people across the border to teach about the history and problems of the region. The last two years Fr. Ricardo’s eyesight had diminished to the point he could no longer drive. Faithful loving volunteers stepped in to help drive him to where ever he needed to be and he was so grateful to them. His service to others continued even to the week before his death. He was active at Clinic Amistad, Casa Alitas, Casa Maria Soup Kitchen and with Christ of the Desert Prayer Group, and had Sunday liturgies both at Desert
House of Prayer and Villa Maria Care Center. To paraphrase the prophet Micah Fr. Ricardo did what God asked. He loved tenderly, acted justly and walked humbly with his God in the people he was present with. Fr. Ricardo’s life and love is truly an amazing grace for all of us who knew him.
Fr. Ricardo is survived by his brother, John, (Susan) his nieces, Casey, Amy (John) & nephew, Andrew (Katie) as well as many cousins and their families who he was close to in Washington, California, and New Mexico. Fr. Ricardo was preceded in death by his parents, his close Redemptorist brothers Fr. Enrique Lopez, Fr. Pat O’Brien, Fr. Ray Maiser, and his dear friends Lupe & Joe Sinohui.
Mass of the Resurrection: Saturday, October 7th 11am at St. Augustine
Cathedral followed by burial at Holy Hope cemetery with a reception at
Southside Presbyterian Church at 3:30 pm.
Friends are encouraged, in lieu of flowers, to send donations to any of the organizations Fr. Ricardo so loved above or to “ Redemptorist Denver Province” ( memo line: Fr. Ricardo Memorial fund) 7350 W Picture Rocks | Rd. Tucson, AZ 857430