The Rev. Robert Simard, 70, affectionately known as Father Bob during his 46 years of service as a priest of the Diocese of Baker, died Jan. 17, 2002, in Prineville.
His vigil service will be at 7 o’clock tonight at St. Joseph Church in Prineville. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday with the Rite of Committal afterward at Deschutes Memorial Gardens in Bend at 2:30 p.m.
Father Simard grew up in Cambridge, Mass., and attended St. John’s Seminary at Brighton, Mass. The Most Rev. Francis P. Leipzig ordained him to the priesthood on Feb. 25, 1956. For his first assignments, he served as assistant pastor in Ontario, Burns, Klamath Falls and Pendleton, where he also was chaplain to St. Anthony’s Hospital.
In February 1960, he was named pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Chiloquin. One year later he became pastor of St. Elizabeth’s Church at John Day. He than served as pastor at St. Mary Parish in Elgin from 1968 to 1971.
In 1971 he was transferred to Nyssa where he served until 1976 when he was named rector of St. Francis de Sales Cathedral at Baker City. In 1983 he became the first pastor of the new parish of Holy Redeemer at LaPine. On July 1, 1989, he was named pastor of St. Joseph Parish at Prineville. He retired because of health reasons in 1999.
In the fall of 2000, he decided he had enough energy to devote himself again to pastoral ministry, so he was assigned to St. Augustine parish in Merrill, where he remained until undergoing surgery last August.
In addition to his parish service, Father Simard served on various diocesan committees and boards, including the Liturgical committee, Catholic Sentinel Committee, Priestly Education Committee, Senate of Priests, Board of Diocesan Consulters and Dean of the Northern Deanery and of the Central Deanery.
In an interview, he gave to The (Bend) Bulletin for its June 12, 1999, edition, Father Simard reflected on his numerous assignments and said: “So I was either a troublemaker or a real great priest.”
Father Simard was well-known for his simplicity of life, his gentle manner, his love of parish ministry, his ability to memorize each Sunday’s Gospel reading, his enthusiasm for golf and his well-honed wit. He summed up his experience of faith in the same interview for The Bulletin: “I knew God would take care of me and this has worked out real well. God promises to be with me always, no matter what happens. It is as St. Paul says, I always carry within me the wounds of life, and give glory to God.”
That same faith carried him through these last months, as he continued to manifest his typical gentleness and delightful sense of humor in the midst of growing debilitation.
Survivors include his sister, Sister Appoline Simard, of St. Catharine, Ky.; his brothers, Charles of Vero Beach, Fla., John of Winthrop, Mass., William of Lexington, Mass., and James of Manchester, N.H.; and several nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Joseph and Appoline Gelinas Simard; his brother, Joseph; and his stepmother, Rita Benoit.
Arrangements are under the direction of the Prineville Funeral Home.
Used with permission from: Baker City Herald, Baker City, Oregon, January 25, 2002
Transcribed by: Belva Ticknor