Jubilarian Profile: Edwin Robinson Celebrates 50 Years as Friar

HNP Communications Friar News

This is the sixth in a series of profiles of HNP friars commemorating anniversaries of Franciscan profession in 2012. The March 28 issue of HNP Today featured Joseph Ehrhardt, OFM

BUTLER, N.J. — A truly international friar who has been a member of three provinces around the world is among the Province’s members celebrating 50-year anniversaries of profession this year.

The English-born Edwin Robinson, OFM, now a chaplain and director of pastoral care at St. Cabrini Nursing Home and Adult Day Center in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., has devoted the better part of his ministry to caring for others.

“As I look back over 50 years of vowed life, I sense that the major focus of my ministry has been the quest to be a compassionate and healing presence both to myself and others,” he said.

Edwin, who had assisted the chaplain at St. Joseph Hospital in Paterson, N.J., in the 1990s, said he is best able to care for others because of the care extended to him over the years. Earlier in his life, he experienced two prolonged illnesses. ”I try to be a compassionate and loving presence to those whom I serve.”

“As I see it now, these periods gave me the opportunity to get to know the full reality of Edwin Robinson,” he said. “As part of this learning process, I came to rejoice in my weaknesses, for they were the gateway to a discovery of the presence of God deep within me. The God I discovered was the presence of healing compassion and infinite love.”

Three Provinces
In his vocational life — which has included being affiliated with three provinces on three continents — Edwin has been a campus minister, a teacher of scripture, parochial vicar, and chaplain at a large nursing home and adult day center. He was born in Reading, England; and attended college in Australia and Suffolk, England. He completed a licentiate in sacred theology at the Catholic University, Lyon, France, and master’s degrees in Semitic languages and biblical studies at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

First professed in Victoria, Australia, Edwin was named a deacon in E. Bergholt, England, and was ordained at Our Lady of Caversham Church in Reading, Berks, England.

He first came to the United States in 1976, when he was assigned to campus ministry in Columbia, S.C. In 1979, he became a student at Catholic University of America from which he earned a master’s degree. In 1985, he was assigned to St. Thomas More University in Columbia, S.C., and in 1993, he spent a year at St. Francis of Assisi Church in New York City, and from 1994 to 1997 worked at Assumption Parish in Wood-Ridge, N.J.

Edwin is grateful for what his Franciscan affiliation has meant in his ministry. He said: “My superiors in each Province fostered my academic abilities. They, along with an untold number of benefactors, made it possible for me to pursue graduate studies in theology and biblical studies at two major universities.”

He is especially grateful and proud to now be part of Holy Name Province, he said, for its “unique ability to develop the talents of each friar.”

“As a result, I received a top-class education which has stood me in good stead through the years of my ministry. I see this same ability much at work for many other friars of the Province.”

Gratitude for All
“I give thanks to God for all the people who have supported me as a friar. Many friars can be included in this number. In particular, Fr. Robert Prentice, a professor of philosophy in Australia, taught me the philosophical foundations of Franciscan theology. Fr. Eric Doyle, a professor of church history in England, excited my enthusiasm for a life-long interest in the history and study of Franciscan spirituality. In the later years, my close friendship with the late Fr. Jerome “Pat” Gallagher is a source of joy and wisdom. Finally, the love and kindness of the late Frederick McKeever, OFM, are great gifts that stay with me to this day.”

Edwin, who is assigned to St. Anthony’s Friary in Butler, is an enthusiast of transcendental meditation and has been a student of Zen in a Christian context.

“As part of my journey, I attended lectures at the Tibet Center in New York City on a weekly basis for several months. I also participated in a couple of Zen retreats. I started to practice transcendental meditation as a means of rediscovering contemplative prayer. I still practice transcendental meditation, I would add, within a Christian context. For me, this is the hidden treasure of which Jesus speaks in the Gospels.”

He and the other HNP friars marking 50 and 25 years of profession this year will be honored by the Province on June 21.

— Wendy Healy, a Connecticut-based freelance writer, is a frequent contributor to HNP Today.