Father Bob Healy

Father Bob Healy CINCINNATI—Father Bob Healy, 83, died March 18, 2006, at the Glenmary residence in Cincinnati. Born June 1, 1922, in Boston, Mass., Father Healy died peacefully of an apparent heart attack.

One of four children of William and Annette Healy, Father Healy was ordained in 1946 and made his Perpetual Oath to Glenmary in 1951. In his years as a home missioner, Father Healy pastored missions in Russellville, Ky. (associate pastor, 1947-50; pastor, 1950-55); Franklin, N.C. (1955-59); Appalachia, Va. (1963-65); Mifflintown, Penn. (1965-70); Mt. Pleasant, Texas (1970-75); Franklin, Ky. (1975-78); Murphy, N.C. (1978-85); Clintwood, Va. (1985-86); Fayette, Ala. (1986-89); and Waynesboro, Ga. (1989-92). He also served as superior of Glenmary's House of Formation in Fairfield, Conn., from 1959 to 1963, while working in Glenmary's promotion department.

"Father Healy was a faith-filled priest who faithfully served the people in the home missions for more than 60 years," said Father Dan Dorsey, president of Glenmary Home Missioners. "His missionary work touched lives from Texas to Georgia and Kentucky to North Carolina—we have been blessed by God with the dedicated service of this humble man."

Father Healy brought his love of baseball to all his assignments and used the sport as his "foot-in-the-door," as he said in a past interview. By joining the local baseball team when he arrived in a new mission area, he was able to introduce himself to the community and give residents a chance to get to know him. In these rural counties with small Catholic populations, especially in the early days of his ministry, he was the first Catholic priest many had ever met—let alone played baseball with! And he was a good player, leading the local Russellville team to a championship.

He was also a man ahead of his time. While in Mt. Pleasant, Texas, in the early 1970s, he saw the need to begin reaching out to Spanish-speaking migrant workers in the area. As a result, St. Michael Church began holding celebrations on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a practice that is now commonplace today in many Glenmary missions in the South.

Father Healy retired from assigned ministry in 1992, but continued to serve mission areas while residing in Cleveland, Claxton and Reidsville, Ga. While in South Georgia he provided sacramental ministry to nearby Glenmary missions as well as to parishes in the Savannah Diocese. But he spent much of his time ministering to the prisoners at the Georgia State Prison in Reidsville. Prison ministry was a part of his outreach wherever he was assigned. Father Healy moved to Glenmary's Cincinnati residence in 2005.

In an article celebrating Father Healy's silver jubilee in 1971, his brother Howard (now deceased) described his brother as "uncompromising in his faith, but also charitable.... Asking little and giving much, cheerful and serious, empathetic but firm, courteous and diligent, truly he is a priest."