Robert Struzynski, OFM
1935 – 2013
Fr. Robert (Tony) Struzynski, OFM, was born May 1, 1935 in Dunkirk, N.Y. He graduated from Dunkirk High School in 1952. He then enrolled at St. Bonaventure University, Allegany, N.Y. During his junior year, Fr. Fidelis O’Rourke, OFM, asked him if he had considered becoming a priest. Although he hadn’t, Fr. Bob began reading about St. Francis and discovered his vocation. After he graduated from St. Bonaventure with a B.B.A. in 1956, he resigned his ROTC commission to enter St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary, Callicoon, N.Y., that fall.
He entered the Order in 1957 at St. Raphael’s Friary, Lafayette, N.J., receiving the religious name Anthony. He professed temporary vows one year later, made his solemn profession in 1961 and was ordained in 1963.
Following ordination, Fr. Bob remained in Washington to continue his theological education, receiving the S.T.L. from The Catholic University of America in 1964. That fall, he joined the theology department at St. Bonaventure University as an instructor.
After three years, he attended Notre Dame University, receiving his doctorate in theology in 1971. Fr. Bob then returned to teach at St. Bonaventure, where he also became involved in campus ministry and joined the intentional community at “Ockham House.” Many Bonaventure alumni fondly recall the profound effect the gentle “Fr. Tony” — as they remember him — had on them.
Like many other friars, Fr. Bob could have continued teaching at Bona’s until retirement. Instead, in the fall of 1977, he requested to join Fathers Roderic Petrie, OFM, and Emmett Murphy, OFM, in Philadelphia, where they founded the St. Francis Inn soup kitchen.
After six years in Philadelphia, in 1984, Fr. Bob accepted the call to serve as a missionary in Jamaica as pastor of Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Kingston. He began a program there called “Gospel Splash,” where the friars would go into poorer neighborhoods to spread the Gospel with songs and prayer, and then form “Base Ecclesial Communities.” He also helped to build homes with materials received from “Food for the Poor” and formed a Housecraft Training Institute. This program helped the poor to learn to sew, enabling them to work in a factory or at home to earn a living.
Fr. Bob returned to the United States in 1993, going back to his native Western New York to St. Patrick Friary in Buffalo. There, he ministered in the Cephas program, an ecumenical organization that serves men and women in prison and on parole. During that time, after almost five decades as Fr. Tony, he resumed using his baptismal name as Bob. After 12 years with the Cephas program, in 2005, he joined the fraternity at Mt. Irenaeus in West Clarksville, N.Y., to develop further his contemplative life and minister from there to the students at St. Bonaventure University.
He retired from full-time ministry in June 2013 to St. Anthony Friary, Butler, N.J. During his short retirement, he developed a blog on meditation and contemplative prayer. He also planned to serve at a prison in Newark, N.J., on a regular basis and to offer an adult education course on contemplative prayer at St. Francis Church in New York City.
He died on Dec. 13, 2013 at Holy Name Friary, Ringwood, N.J. Fr. Bob was 78 years old, a professed Franciscan friar for 55 years and a priest for 50 years.