Father Bob Bond
CINCINNATI—Father Bob Bond, a native of Cincinnati and a Glenmary Home Missioner for over 50 years, died Sept. 1, 2008, at Blue Ash Hospice in Cincinnati after a brief illness. A graduate of Purcell High School and St. Mary Seminary, Father Bob was ordained in 1960 and served home mission counties in Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky and Oklahoma.
In addition to his work in the missions, Father Bob taught theology and liturgy in Glenmary's formation program throughout the 1960s after receiving his doctorate in sacred theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas in Rome in 1962. He also lead Glenmary's mission office (1980-86) and served as editor of the quarterly magazine, Glenmary Challenge (1980-93). He was an accomplished photographer and writer and his skills were recognized with awards from national and local professional organizations like the Catholic Press Association and the Cincinnati Editors Association.
Father Bob was not just a writer and photographer but also a hands-on missioner whose mission assignments began and ended in the Appalachia mountains that he called home after retiring from active ministry in 2002. He began his home mission ministry as associate pastor in Appalachia, Va. (1962) and Murphy, N.C. (1963-64). After teaching Glenmary's seminarians from 1964-69, he received his first pastorate at Glenmary's mission in Boone, N.C., in 1969. His other mission pastorates included Norton, Va. (1973-79); Clintwood, Va. (1979); West Liberty, Ky. (1987-94); Hugo, Okla. (1994-1998); and Andrews, N.C. (1998-2002). Upon retiring, Father Bob took up residence in Burnsville, N.C., where he lived until moving to Glenmary Headquarters in Cincinnati this summer.
"Father Bob was a gifted and talented missioner who served Glenmary, and most importantly the people of the home missions, in a variety of ministries—as pastor, as director of the mission office and as editor of Glenmary Challenge," said Father Dan Dorsey, president of Glenmary. "His creativity in his mission work allowed him to touch the lives of all those—Catholics and non-Catholics—living in the mission counties he served."
That creativity showed itself in the ways he used to introduce himself and make contacts within a county. He was a motorcycle-riding priest who wrote both news articles and columns on Catholicism for local newspapers or produced local television programs or filled a slot on local radio programs answering questions about Catholicism. His parishioners and the people of the county he was serving could find him playing softball and tennis on local teams or bowling with the local league. His goal was to call together and serve the Catholic mission community and connect those communities to the larger county.
Wherever his ministry assignments led him, he carried with him a desire to educate, whether by offering classes on computers to youth or organizing and leading annual shopping trips for elementary-aged children each Christmas.
While in Andrews, N.C., and Hugo, Okla., Father Bob repaired old computers donated by friends and gave them to local families and charities. He also tutored children and adults to help them become computer literate because "I don't like to treat the symptoms but the causes," Father Bob said when interviewed about the program in 1999. "People today are not going to get a job without computer skills."
That philosophy also applied to the annual Christmas shopping trips he led. Instead of giving gifts to impoverished children, Father Bob turned the tables each year and invited children to buy gifts themselves. Working with a local school, Father Bob would take a group of fifth-graders for a day of shopping on him. In the process, he taught real-life lessons in banking (the children had to cash the $15 check he wrote to them), math, budgeting and most of all, selflessness. If the children spent all their money on others, they were surprised with an extra $1 to buy something for themselves at the discount store.
On Sept. 25, 2007, in honor of his 75th birthday, Father Bob's work in the home missions and his contributions to the larger Church were recognized on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), a former parishioner. Rep. Foxx spoke of Father Bob's work saying he "typified the Church's call to reach out to those in need and share the love of Christ. He was truly ahead of his time in his faithful efforts to bring the power of God's love to those who might never darken the door of a church."