The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

December 21, 2012

Father Robert J. Roche, OSB


The Tribune-Democrat

LATROBE — ROCHE – Father Robert J., OSB, 93, a monk of St. Vincent Archabbey, died Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, at the Archabbey. Until he returned to the Archabbey in 2009, Father Robert spent the past two decades serving parishes in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, including St. George Parish, Patton, (1989-1996) and Queen of Peace Parish, Patton, formerly Our Lady of Perpetual Help (1996-2009). Born Oct. 16, 1919, in Medford, Mass, son of the late James Joseph and Clara Josephine (Holmes) Roche. He was one of 13 children. His living siblings include, Mary Elizabeth Lehmann, Flushing, Long Island, N.Y.; William Anthony Roche, Minneapolis, Minn.; Sister Catherine Theresa Roche, OP, Dominican Convent, Glendale, N.Y.; and Ann Claire Mascola, Carle Place, Long Island, N.Y.; and preceded in death by Patricia Frances Secker, John James, Edward Patrick, Thomas Richard, Richard Joseph and Walter Patrick Roche; and Walter and Marion Roche, who died as infants. He attended the parochial schools of Boston, Mass., and Brooklyn. He also attended St. Joseph’s Juniorate in Peabody, Mass., a preparatory school for the Xaverian Brothers, an order of teaching brothers. After high school, he went to Sacred Heart Novitiate in Old Point Comfort, Va., and pronounced religious vows in the Xaverian Congregation in 1940. From there, he went to Xaverian College, an affiliate of Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where he graduated with a bachelor of science degree in biology in 1943. Later, he earned his master of science in biology in 1952, also from Catholic University. Further studies in education were pursued at St. John’s University in Brooklyn, N.Y. (1951-1953). He began in 1943 to teach in St. John’s High School, Worcester, Mass., until 1947, when he began teaching at St. John’s Preparatory School in Danvers, Mass., at which time he moved to Mount St. Joseph’s High School, Baltimore, Md. In 1956, the then Brother Harold, CFX, began the process of incardination to the Benedictine Community at St. Vincent Archabbey, where he took the religious name of Robert, and began studies for the priesthood. He was ordained to the priesthood June 2, 1962. While a seminarian, he was able to teach in the biology department of St. Vincent College. He taught general biology and microbiology to the St. Vincent students and also microbiology and anatomy to the nurses in training for the Latrobe Hospital until 1968. During his teaching time at St. Vincent, he wrote laboratory manuals in general biology and microbiology for use at St. Vincent College. Other duties at St. Vincent included food service director (1960-1966), dormitory supervisor and dean of students (1966-1967). From there, he was assigned to Penn State University as one of four Benedictine Catholic chaplains. In 1968, he served as parochial vicar of Sacred Heart Parish in Jeannette. In 1969, Archabbot Egbert Donovan, OSB, assigned Father Robert to assist at Wimmer Priory and teach at Fu Jen Catholic University in Taiwan. He taught there in the biology department until 1985, a period of 16 years. For his past two years at Wimmer Priory, he served as prior. While Father Robert was in Taiwan, he became a retreat master for many of the English speaking religious communities. He also gave retreats in Kowloon, China, and Manila, Philippines. When in Taiwan, he was a chaplain to the Filipino community, in the Cursillo Movement and in the Knights of Columbus. He received his Knights of Columbus 4th degree in the Philippines at Manila. After Father Robert returned to St. Vincent, he was assigned to Sacred Heart Parish and St. Mary’s, and St. Mary’s Parish in St. Mary’s, Elk County. In 1989, Father Robert was appointed pastor of St. George Parish, Patton, where he remained until 1996, when he was assigned to Queen of Peace Parish, Patton. He was active in the Knights of Columbus and adult religious education. The body will be received at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 23, at Elizabeth J. Roderick Center of St. Vincent Archabbey, with viewing to follow in the parlor of the Roderick Center until 7 p.m. The body will be transferred to the Archabbey Basilica for a vigil service at 7:15 p.m. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated by Archabbot Douglas R. Nowicki, OSB, at 10 a.m. Monday, Dec. 24, in the Archabbey Basilica. Interment will follow at St. Vincent Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to Benedictine Health & Welfare Fund, c/o St. Vincent College, 300 Fraser Purchase Road, Latrobe, Pa. 15650.


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