Father Robert Struzynski was born in Dunkirk, New York on May 1, 1935. After graduating from high school, he attended St. Bonaventure. He was inspired to his vocational calling while a student there, resigning from his ROTC commission and going to St. Joseph Seminary in Callicoon, New York in 1956. Fr. Bob entered the Order in 1957, taking the religious name, Anthony. He made his solemn profession in 1961 and was ordained in 1963. After ordination, he continued his theological studies at the Catholic University of America, and after receiving his degree in sacred theology, returned to St. Bonaventure as an instructor 1964. He again turned to further his theological studies, and went to Notre Dame University, where he received a doctorate in theology before once again going to St. Bonaventure as a professor. He stayed at Bonaventure for seven years, immersing himself in both teaching and campus ministry, and helped to found the Thomas Merton Ministry Center in the heart of campus.
In 1978, “Fr. Tony” (as he’s known by many alumni from the time period) left St. Bonaventure to join two friars in Philadelphia, where they founded St. Francis Inn, a soup kitchen and shelter that continues to serve the less fortunate to this day. In 1986, Fr. Bob left Philadelphia to serve as a missionary in Jamaica. He was a pastor of Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Kingston, and sought to help the poor communities there through spreading the Gospel message, rebuilding homes, and doing some basic skills training.
In 1993, Fr. Bob returned to the United States, going to St. Patrick’s Church in Buffalo. There he returned to using his baptismal name of Robert (or, more often, “Bob”), and began a prison ministry program to help inmates and former inmates on parole return to society.
In 2005, Fr. Bob returned to the St. Bonaventure community, this time with Mt. Irenaeus. A very contemplative man, he ministered to the students and faculty of the university while entering into a deeper prayer life. He finally “retired” from active ministry in June 2013, going to St. Anthony Friary in Butler, New Jersey; there he continued to write and blog about meditation, planned on continuing his prison ministry, and taught an adult education class on contemplative prayer. Fr. Robert Struzynski passed away on December 13, 2013. He was 78 years old, a friar for 55 years and a priest for 50. His presence touched the hearts and minds of people spanning more than half a century and he was, in many ways, the embodiment of the Franciscan spirit that formed the center of his lifestyle.
Upon retiring from Mt. Irenaeus and moving to New Jersey, Father Bob recorded a series of videos for Holy Name Province about meditation and prayer.
Photo and video courtesy of Mt. Irenaeus