Patna mourns death of Jesuit spiritual healer

Father Bob was 79

By Jose Kavi

New Delhi: American Jesuit missionary Father Robert Henry Schmidt, a renowned spiritual healer and retreat preacher, died on September 26 in Patna, Bihar. He was 79.

Father Bob, as he was popularly known, died at 12 noon in the infirmary of the Xavier Teachers Training Institute in Digha Ghat, a western suburb of Patna.

An obituary note from the Patna Jesuit provincial office said Father Bob, who had spent 61 years as a Jesuit, took seriously ill early September 26. “A doctor was called in. Brother Francis Thattaparampil, our infirmarian, did all that was possible,” said the note from Father Selvin Xavier, assistant to the provincial.

The funeral is scheduled for at 3 pm on September 27 at the Jesuit seminary in the XTTI campus, it added.

Father Xavier hailed Father Bob as “one of the most loved and respected persons” among the Patna Jesuits. He was “deeply human and spiritual; warm, friendly, compassionate and cheerful; loyal, obedient and committed to his mission and Society of Jesus,” he added.

Jesuit Father Raymond Cherubim, vice principal of St Xavier’s College, Patna, hailed Father Bob as a “wonderful formator,” “excellent spiritual guide” and “a friend” to many priests and religious all over India.

Father Bob served as the secretary to the Provincial of India in New Delhi for six years from 1991. He was superior of Regional Theology Centre of the Patna Jesuits and superior of Atmadarshan, a spirituality center in Digha Ghat.

He had helped several young Jesuits to discover their spiritual and human talents when he worked as the prefect of Patna’s Jesuit juniorate for 12 years from 1970. “He was a healing spiritual counselor and he loved his spiritual ministry,” Father Xavier recalled. “Bob will missed greatly missed not only the Jesuits but also other religious and people whom he served well,” he added.

George K Jose, who teaches law in Bengaluru’s Christ College and a former student of Bob, said he had found the senior Jesuit as “permanently pleasant, who went out of his way to become friendly with other.”

“As an American, I loved his preference in using Hindi on all occasions. He was our Juniorate in-charge of academics and taught us English speaking. He used to be always around for the evening games, basketball or hand ball, made no difference for him, he enjoyed his evening exercises,” said Jose, who spent at XTTI during 1977-1980.

He said his last meeting with Bob was in 1983, but the Jesuit’s “ever smiling face” refuses to fade from his memory. “There was sincerity in his dealing with us,” Jose told Matters India.

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