The Catholic University of America

April 8, 2010

University Chaplain Rev. Robert Schlageter to Leave CUA
“Father Bob” Has Lead Campus Ministry for 12 Years

  Father Bob with CUA students at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception prior to the 2008 March for Life.

Very Rev. David M. O’Connell, C.M., president of The Catholic University of America, announced today that Rev. Robert F. Schlageter, O.F.M. Conv., university chaplain and director of campus ministry, will be leaving the university this summer to take a new assignment for his religious community.

A beloved figure at CUA and a member of the Conventual Franciscans, the university chaplain is known on campus as Father Bob. The exact location and timing of his move will be announced following the Conventual Franciscans’ chapter meeting later this spring. 

Father O’Connell met with the provincial superior of the Conventual Franciscans to determine Father Bob’s successor and to establish a renewable, four-year contract for continuity of service by three Conventual Franciscan friars in campus ministry at CUA.

“I have spoken with Father Bob’s successor,” Father O’Connell remarked. “He is thrilled about coming to CUA, and I know he will be a wonderful ‘new pastor’ for our university community.”

A third Conventual Franciscan friar will join the new university chaplain and Rev. Andrew Santamauro, also a member of the religious community and current associate chaplain for faith development, before the fall 2010 semester.  A fourth Conventual Franciscan, Brother Leonard Katusz, also works at CUA in the university libraries.

“Father Bob arrived with me on campus 12 years ago,” noted Father O’Connell. “It would be impossible to list all that he has contributed to the lives of thousands upon thousands of CUA students and staff over these years, especially regarding their faith development and spiritual life. 

“I could never begin to thank him adequately, both as president and as a dear friend, for all that he has done to foster and promote the Catholic identity and mission of this university from within. When he arrived, in one of our first conversations, he said to me ‘All I want to be is a good pastor for our students.’ In my opinion and experience, no one has ever met that goal as well.”

“It has been such a privilege for me to serve at Catholic for these last 12 years,” observed Father Bob. “Every moment has been a gift. I will always treasure my time here. I have received so much more than I could ever have given.”

Father Bob at the Basilica during the 2009 Orientation Mass for CUA freshmen.

Prior to coming to CUA in 1998, Father Bob served as chaplain and campus minister at Western Connecticut State University in the Diocese of Bridgeport, where he influenced and nurtured the vocation of Father Santamauro.

Father O’Connell noted that under Father Bob’s leadership, the Office of Campus Ministry “has grown and flourished over these years with an excellent staff, a well-subscribed retreat program, vocational discernment initiatives, weekly adoration and holy hours, substantially increased attendance at Mass, student ministry in the residence halls, participation in the sacraments, especially reconciliation, pro-life activities, volunteer service coordination and a constantly available presence to all our students.”

“I leave Catholic University with very mixed emotions,” said Father Bob. “I am thankful for the privilege of being a part of so many lives. I want to thank Father O’Connell for his support and vision over these last 12 years. His support has meant so much to me and the spiritual life here at Catholic.

“I want to thank the Campus Ministry staff who have sacrificed so much to develop our program and who have inspired me,” he added. “I also want to thank my colleagues in the Office of Student Life for their friendship and for all they do for our students. Please pray for me, as I will for you.”

Members of the university will have the opportunity to express their gratitude to Father Bob before the students leave for summer vacation. At Father O’Connell’s request, Father Bob will deliver the homily at this year’s baccalaureate Mass on Friday, May 14, during Commencement weekend. “I want to make sure that Father Bob knows how much he has meant to all of us at CUA and how much he’ll be missed,” Father O’Connell said.

The Conventual Franciscan Campus Ministry will continue at CUA and the names of the two new friars joining the university will be announced as soon as the religious community has processed their transfers from other assignments.