Leading Catholic Priest’s funeral today


Rev. Fr. Bob Rodrigo O.M.I. (1947-2015)

The funeral of one of the leading priests of the Catholic Church – Rev. Fr. Bob Rodrigo OMI, will take place at Borella Kanatta this evening. Rev. Fr. Joseph Tarcisius Rodrigo was popularly known as Fr. Bob and championed the cause of the poor going in the footsteps of St. Eugene De Mazenod, the founder of the Congregation of Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

Rev. Fr. Bob was born in Negombo on the 16th March 1947 and was educated at St. Mary’s College, Negombo and later St. Peter’s College, Bambalapitiya. Later he joined the Oblates at the age of 18 and completed his Novitiate in Kalutara under French Missionary Rev. Fr. Ernest Bourjois OMI.

Rev. Fr. Bob was ordained a priest in 1975 and after serving a few years in parishes he was chosen to be in the staff of seminary and it was as a formator that he left an indelible mark.

Rev. Fr. Bob took over as the Rector of St. Joseph’s Juniorate in 1990 and totally changed the formation of young seminarians by aggressively adopting an education based in English language. The seminarians started doing their Advanced Level in English medium and although it was challenging at the beginning within a couple of years the seminary enjoyed overwhelming success thanks to Fr. Bob and his staff that included Rev. Fr. Irwin Morais OMI, Rev. Fr. Rex Kulas OMI and Rev. Fr. Jagath Anthony OMI.

Fr. Bob strived for perfection encouraging his students to commit themselves fully for whatever their undertaking. He demanded the young seminarians to get out of their comfort zones to enjoy better results.

A keen basketball player, he also encouraged the seminarians to participate in All Island Basketball Championships.

After completing a highly successful tenure of six years as Rector of the minor seminary, Rev. Fr. Bob served as the Novice Master at the Oblate Novitiate in Bandarawela. While encouraging a life of prayer and reflection, Fr. Bob made the novices to undertake several initiatives to beautify the novitiate.

Through these beautification projects, he challenged the young men who wanted to embrace the Oblate way of life to complete these hard tasks spending hours in the rain and cold of Bandarawela and set an example by often participating in these tough assignments. His formation ensured that his students will not shy away from any challenge, how tough it is. The inspiration for Fr. Bob came from what Pope John XXIII, who had high praise for Oblates once said; ‘Oblates are specialists in difficult missions.’

After many years in formation, in his last decade of priesthood, Fr. Bob functioned as a Parish Priest serving at Fatima Church, Maradana and St. Lawrence’s Church, Wellawatta, where he showed a genuine concern for the poor and the needy.

He had gone to Hyderabad, India for treatment and it was while undergoing treatment that he seriously fell ill and passed away on 24th April.

A brilliant teacher, a lover of the nature and a fine human being, Fr. Bob will be missed by all.

His remains lie at Fatima Church, Maradana and after mass at 3pm, the burial will take place at Borella Kanatta.

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