Rafael Ramos receives posthumous seminary degree, recognition as NYPD chaplain

by Vanessa Garcia Rodriguez |

(REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)Justin Ramos (L) and Jaden Ramos ( R) flank their mother Maritza Ramos as she clutches a folded U.S. flag after the casket of their father, slain NYPD officer Rafael Ramos was loaded into a hearse at his funeral service at Christ Tabernacle Church to its final resting place in the Queens borough of New York December 27, 2014. An estimated 25,000 police officers from departments around the country and Canada attended the funeral service on Saturday.

NEW YORK (Christian Examiner) – Slain New York City Police Officer Rafael Ramos was honored with a posthumous Bachelor of Arts degree in Religion from Faith Evangelical College and Seminary of Tacoma, Washington, and named an honorary police department chaplain at his funeral, Saturday, Dec. 27.

Representatives from the college traveled to New York to represent the school in the services held at Christ Tabernacle Church in Glendale, Queens, where Ramos served as an usher and as a member of the marriage ministry and life group ministry.

"It's only right," said Michael Adams, the seminary's president. "Officer Ramos was a very good student, earnest, dedicated. He was just two courses away from completing his program and he deserves to finish."

Ramos was pursuing the degree to meet the academic portion of the requirements to become a police chaplain, according to the Canada Free Press. Ramos already had completed training with the New York State Chaplain Task Force and was to graduate from that program Dec. 20, the day he was killed. He also had plans to enter into full time pastoral ministry upon his retirement with the police force.

Among those in the school's delegation at Ramos' funeral was Rev. Rob Schenck, an alumnus and president of Faith and Action in Washington, DC. Schenck also is a civilian chaplain on Capitol Hill.

"He felt a special calling to be a chaplain but it was never to be realized because of a senseless act of violence. I'm honored to represent one of the institutions that worked with Officer Ramos to help him reach his goal," Schenck said.

An estimated 25,000 police from the U.S. and Canada attended the funeral Dec. 27 at Christ Tabernacle in Glendale, Queens. Dignitaries included U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.

William Bratton, New York City police commissioner, also spoke, calling Ramos "a hero" and saying that he represented "the best of our values."

"I'm privileged to be able to tell you that today I'm making him a department chaplain--a posthumous member of that family within our family, that ministers to us in time of need," he said.

Ramos was assassinated "because he represented all of us," Bratton added. "Even though, beneath the uniform, he was just a good man."

He also promoted Ramos and Liu to detectives first grade.

Ramos left behind his wife Maritza and sons, Justin, a student at Bowdoin College in Maine, and Jaden, who is 13.

He was killed Dec. 20 along with his partner, Officer Wenjian Liu by Ismaaiyl Brinsley.

Brinsley, who CBS News New York reported was emotionally disturbed, killed his ex-girlfriend in Baltimore prior to making online threats to police that suggested the shootings were in retaliation for the deaths of Eric Garner in New York and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Officer Wenjian Liu's wake will be held on Saturday, January 2, from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. and the funeral is scheduled for Sunday at 10 a.m.