A ‘native son’ and long-time supporter and advocate for the East Side, Fr Bob will be coming home to St. John Kanty Parish Community to celebrate his Golden Jubilee at the 4:00 Mass on Saturday, May 23. A reception will follow in the school cafeteria.
Fr Bob grew up on Swinburne St (the house is still there!) and attended SJK School until the 3rd grade. He then attended PS #44 on Broadway and in 1954 graduated from Buffalo Technical High School. He went on to attend college for eight years and receive two degrees (a B. S. in Education from Buffalo State College and a B. A. from St. Mary’s in Orchard Lake, MI).
Fr Bob studied for the priesthood at St John Vianney Seminary (now Christ the King Seminary), East Aurora, NY and was ordained on May 22, 1965, offering his first Mass at St John Kanty soon thereafter. He served as Associate at Kanty’s from 1971-1974, returning as Pastor from 1979-1990. Along with Fr. Louis Dolinic and Fr. Jerome Kopec (who was later Pastor of SJK), a Polish Culture Week was established featuring Polish cooking, Polish artists, concerts and other Polish crafts. In 1983 he founded The Mother Angela Soup Kitchen in partnership with the Felician Sisters, making SJK the first parish in the Buffalo Diocese to run a soup kitchen and perhaps even serving as a model for other programs such as the Response to Love Center and St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy. Fr Bob continued his relationship with SJK while Fr Antoni Lutostanski was Pastor, offering Mass on a weekly basis. He recently served as Concelebrant at Buffalo Mass Mob III in March 2014 and as Celebrant for May Crowning in 2014 to bless the refurbished Mary Garden, a project funded by the School Alumni & Friends on the corner of Broadway and Brownell.
In 1990 Fr Bob was asked by Bishop Head to serve as Pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church, Town of Tonawanda, which had problems similar to St John Kanty Parish. While he was at Blessed Sacrament he, with the assistance of the Felician Sisters, was instrumental in establishing the first Wellness Clinic in a parish setting. He retired from Blessed Sacrament in 2005.
Fr. Bob served the Chancery of the Diocese of Buffalo in several capacities: as Associate Director of Buildings & Properties, and as Chair of the Building Commission, as a member of the Priest Personnel Board, as well as Chair of Art & Architecture of the Liturgical Commission.
Not to be forgotten is Fr Bob’s 40 years of work with the Felician Sisters as an Assistant and as Pastor, as well as weekend associate at the Newman Center, the Catholic Campus Ministry at Buffalo State College. He is a past member of the Clergy Council of the Buffalo Religious Arts Center. In 2002 he authored a short story ‘The Lady’ (available from Amazon.com), a touching story about life’s troubles, and hope. It is a quick read and leaves you feeling spiritually and emotionally satisfied. He also continues to contribute editorials to the Buffalo News on ‘hot’ topics.
Fr Bob continues to follow his father’s advice: “Follow the call you have received, but make sure that you become the best priest you can be.” He stops by Kanty’s regularly, and especially when Team Pierogi is preparing for their Lenten Pierogi & Placek Sale. This year Fr Bob demonstrated to the ladies that he did not forget how to roll and stuff pierogi, which he learned from his babscia (grandmother) at an early age! Another family favorite he still prepares at Christmas and Easter is babka (holiday bread). His love of cooking, preparing and serving others does not end there…he regularly shares his time honored dishes with the sick.
May, the month of Mary…so appropriate for Fr Bob’s celebration because of his long known devotion to Our Lady, The Blessed Mother. We at St John Kanty Parish Community congratulate him on his accomplishments through the years and are so grateful not only for the years he was our shepherd, but for his continuing support today…please join us as we thank and honor him!