We have lost a dear friend of southern and eastern Kentucky.

The Rev. Ralph William Beiting, a Catholic priest who spent the past 62 years serving the needs of the poor, passed away Thursday in Ashland. He founded the interdenominational Christian Appalachian Project in 1962, and a decade later the Father Beiting Appalachian Mission in Louisa that provides food, clothing and household supplies throughout the region.

When Operation UNITE was formed in 2003, Fr. Beiting was one of the original board members and served as an active voice for citizens of Appalachian until 2006. His heart was dedicated to helping others and forging strong partnerships that crossed ecumenical lines.

Fr. Beiting understood that the growing problem of prescription drug abuse threatened an already depressed area, and took every opportunity to provide help and hope to those in need – both spiritually and physically.

“We have to be an answer to Appalachia,” Fr. Beiting said in 2009, while celebrating his 60th year as a priest. “We can never let the poor go untended.”

Fr. Beiting, you have made a tremendous impact on our region. Your legacy will continue. God bless you!