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Remembering Fr. Travis

Messages of Inspiration from Fr. Leo Travis, C.Ss.R. (1928–2022) –

The life and career of Rev. Fr. Leo Joseph Travis, C.Ss.R. (July 30, 1928 – January 7, 2022), have run closely with the history of Ruamrudee International School since the very beginning. As a Redemptorist Father, he has served served RIS as a parish priest, a director, an administrator, and a school chaplain, among many other roles, from the earliest days of the school at Holy Redeemer Church in the late 1950s to the 2010s at the Minburi campus. 

Fr. Travis was always a well-spoken, eloquent administrator and spiritual leader. Gathered here are but a few excerpts from his many written messages to the community that articulate his love and pride for his school and its legacy; his perspective on education and tradition; and his wisdom on service and spirituality… He is arguably the most beloved figure in RIS history whose strength, kindness and leadership have inspired thousands of community members, past and present, across decades. Reading his words, it’s easy to see why. 

On January 13, a funeral service was held at the Mother of Perpetual Help Cathedral in the province of Udon Thani, where he was laid to rest… Rest In Peace, dearest Father Travis. Thank you for all you have done and what your legacy will continue to do. We love and miss you.

On RIS’ Vision & Mission

“The vision of RIS firmly encourages our families to live by faith, search diligently for truth, and to reach out to others in a spirit of honest peace. We certainly march on together, hoping to keep our world safe and prosperous, sane with respectful morality, values, and responsible cooperation.” 
RIS/RIST Newsletter Volume 4, July 2007

“It is a goal of Ruamrudee International School to challenge our students and personnel to pursue personal excellence of intellect and moral conduct. It is our prayer that RIS inspires our students to be responsible global citizens, living and sharing in happiness and joy, professing truth, justice and peace.”
Ad Astra RIS Magazine Volume 13, March 2015

“We want our students to have this spirit of giving, of helping people other than ourselves, so they are also able to live a decent and happy life. I’m very pleased that our teachers and students still nurture this beautiful spirit, which we have preserved for so many years. And I’m thankful that RIS teaches our students to have a good and open heart for people in need.”
Ad Astra RIS Magazine Volume 26, February 2019

“Without an aim at excellence in spiritual matters, we create a hollow spot in our soul. Long before RIS had a technology plan or was good in sports, Values & Religion classes encouraged our students and teachers to aim at character excellence. We can be thankful that our founding Fathers started us off [that way]. That was their aim. It is now our privilege to go beyond…”
RIS/RIST Newsletter Volume 1, October 2007

“Youth creates great dreams. [RIS founder] Father Godbout had a dream. Four Sisters with Mother Paula saw that they could make the dream possible. [RIS Minburi founder] Father Griffith added new chapters to the dream. We carry on the dream with great hope and confidence. We thank our teachers and all staff members who aided our growth. We thank our parents who chose Ruamrudee to be the school for their family. We recognize that we have made mistakes along the way, too. We ask forgiveness where we have failed. With God’s help, we trust that we will help thousands and thousands of new alumni to fulfill their dreams, too.”
RIS 50th Anniversary Special Edition publication, June 2008

On the Importance of Spiritual Goals

“My hope, as the Catholic Chaplain, is to create an atmosphere at school where the students—according to their own faiths—focus on the spiritual side of their lives and are filled with joy. An example of this would be the morning assembly, when we say a prayer to the Heavenly Father. It’s my focus of importance to raise our mentality and our spiritual living to a higher level.” 
Ad Astra RIS Magazine Volume 28, November 2019

“The same as the WASC focus groups have great aims, so my aim for the children is to spiritually guide them to be loving and caring. I want us to make sure that all students at our school have good friends and that their days are filled with joy, that, despite all of their studies, their hearts should go home happy and filled with the knowledge that they had a good day here at Ruamrudee.”
Ad Astra RIS Magazine Volume 28, November 2019

“On the day we blessed the RIS Peace Pole, the whole RIS community gathered around in the garden to participate. Children and some teachers dressed in their native garments. One by one they went to the microphone and announced the name of their country, and prayed. Recognizing country after country as named by a student, the same response rang out in prayer: ‘May Peace Prevail on Earth!’ All in attendance responded in unison and loudly… It was a very joyful celebration. We all felt that we had done something very meaningful and important for the happiness of peoples all over the globe.”
Ad Astra RIS Magazine Volume 7, May 2013

“We certainly hope to be inspired while we are still young. We can be anxious to be inspired by those who walk at our side today. Mom and Dad, our gentle doctor, a helpful janitor, our teacher, a kind neighbor—all might give true inspiration to us. Each of us can be an inspiration to a friend by suggesting that we do something good for others.” 
Inspiration (2011 RIS ES & MS Yearbook)

“The responsibility of a good education and formation of character does not depend on a school or a family alone… It [also] rests on the shoulders of each individual. I encourage you to develop an individual responsibility toward your duties. Be thankful if you have a healthy family life. Be cooperative if your school encourages you to a good education. Use these environments well. But, whether you will have a future of stability, nobility and progress depends mostly on… you.” 
1967 RRS Yearbook

On the Importance of Community

Your community—whether of business, friendships, or family—can prosper when you generously give your full share.”
Harmony 1977 (RIS yearbook)

On days when it is just ‘us’ at school, no visitors and just us, fellow students and fellow teachers might walk around in a daze at times, hurt by words, feeling that they are being pushed into a corner or just having a bad day. Our spirit of community service and caring urges us to come to the rescue! People of RIS should be happy, and we must do what we can to promote that happiness. We used to call our attitude at the old campus ‘family spirit.’ Since our schools have expanded, we can promote ‘community spirit.’ RIS is this special school, up and down the corridors, into offices and classrooms… with service and caring… everyday.”
RIS/RIST Newsletter Volume 3, April 2006

Being ‘connected’ calls for a certain amount of love for people. Machines and bells are connected by electricity. People are connected only by love, understanding, care, and an effort at forgiveness from time to time, too.”
Connected (2012 RIS Yearbook)

“People, no matter where they come from, are good people. And we can learn from them! We broaden our outlook on life and deepen a reverent culture of respect for one another. I appreciate what I see among our students of RIS. Our school song (‘Follow On Ruamrudee’) announces everyday after assembly that we of RIS are the hope of the future. This is surely true!”
Ad Astra RIS Magazine Volume 5, October 2012

“The yearbooks will have pictures of teachers, classmates, others—people you came to know by name. Many, surely, will treasure you as a ‘friend.’ Keep these people in mind. Hope that you will meet again, or even meet often, in the months and years ahead. In the meantime, remember that you have been a help to so many people at RIS with your kind words and understanding.”
Harmony 1999 (RIS HS yearbook)

On RIS Legacy

“In our own little world of RIS, we recognize that a person had a vision and strength to carry it out. As the century passes, we salute these people—like Father Godbout who began our school in 1957; Father Griffith whose vision created this new campus at Minburi; Sister Elizabeth whose love for children and holiness still inspires us daily. Your life and mine are filled with blessings because one person started to wonder if the world is round.” (2000 RIS HS Yearbook)

“[Over the years,] we pledged ourselves to Seek to Serve, and Reach Out to Others and Communicate. Aim at Excellence and Go Beyond was another. [In the 2000s,] we have been mentioning over and over again that we should have a Union of Hearts through Caring. [Most recently, we have been nurturing students’ Head, Hands and Heart.] All have been inspired by the greatest legacy handed down by Christ… Love one another as Christ has loved us! We try to live by it and hope to inspire future generations at RIS with His legacy.”
Legacy (2002 RIS Yearbook)

“The RIS alumni are numbered in the thousands and have entered professions of recognition around the world. We look forward to hearing more and more about their accomplishments. Former students and former teachers have carried the spirit of RIS to distant lands. I honor them all. I thank all of our alumni—students and teachers—for being such wonderful people who found their way to be ambassadors of the spirit of RIS!”
Ad Astra RIS Magazine Volume 11, October 2014

“I was present when RIS opened its doors for the first time in 1957. In the 1960s and 70s, I was in positions of leadership at RIS while the school was still at the original campus at Holy Redeemer Church. In [the late 90s], I came to the new campus to be Director of RIS. I then remained at RIS until the present in various positions of attention as the Catholic Chaplain. I am thankful for the opportunities God gave me.”
Come On In (2015 HS Yearbook)

To be a priest for [over] sixty years has really been a privilege for me. It has been my vocation in life. It is a happy thought that my sixty years have run very closely with the [history] of Ruamrudee International School. Each of us is important in our own way of life, our ‘calling to service’ to humanity, our ambitions, and our happiness. I celebrate all of you, at the same time as you celebrate me.”
—Ad Astra RIS Magazine Volume 10, May 2014

In Loving Memory

Rev. Fr. Leo Joseph Travis, C.Ss.R.
(July 30, 1928 – January 7, 2022)