A great priest died yesterday. He was a servant of the poor. Not just in his local neighborhood but around the world. He was an academic and servant of the Church. He was 98.
I saw him in April praying at Mass at Saint Mary’s College. I greeted with him with admiration. As ever, he held out his hand and looked into my eyes and into my soul. Students at Notre Dame could encounter him riding his bike on campus.
I always felt like a naive freshman around Bob. I could never get the words out of my mouth for how much I appreciated his work in Chile. He taught generations about the importance of living our faith in the world. He was not shy about Jesus and how love needed to be implemented when dealing with violent governments, people in need of peace, shelter, clothing and hope. He was a man of the Church.
He helped nations implement Vatican II. He served the rights and needs of farmworkers and students. He knew Oscar Romero and wrote books on his life. In his old age, he prayed quietly at Masses where dozens of people still came to him for advice. He also was constantly thinking of how he was called to improve the situations of people living in poverty in various nations.
Bob also walked to our cemetery to bury his many friends. I will miss processing from the Basilica down the road in the next few days to bury a man I deeply admired. Someday I will find the words of appreciation and the prayers of love. In the meantime, I lift up another Holy Cross priest in death and in life who inspired lives across the globe.