Obituary | Fr. Robert Behnen, OFM
A funeral Mass was celebrated July 21 at St. Anthony of Padua Church in south St. Louis for Franciscan Father Robert Behnen, former pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Oakville.
Father Behnen, died July 11at the age of 78.
A native of St. Louis, Father Behnen entered the Franciscan Friars of the Sacred Heart Province in 1953 and was ordained a priest by Bishop Henry A. Pinger at St. Francis Church in Teutopolis, Ill., in 1960. Father Behnen served at his home parish, St. Anthony of Padua. He also served as a vicar at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Oakville from 1993-96 and as pastor there from 1996-2002. He served as senior parochial vicar at St. Anthony of Padua from 2002-2009.
Father Behnen went to the Franciscan University in Rome, the Antonianum, where he studied moral theology for four years and received a doctorate in theology. When he returned to the United States, he first taught moral theology at the Franciscan seminary in Teutopolis, Ill., from 1965-68 and then at the Catholic Theological Union in the Hyde Park area of Chicago from 1968-71. While there he also served as a chaplain at Chicago's Bridewell Jail, now known as Cook County Jail. He served as community vicar and master of clerics in Illinois and was dean of apostolic formation at Catholic Theological Union. Father Behnen served as a pastor in Michigan and Illinois. He retired in 2009 and lived at Villa West Health Care Center in Sherman, Ill.
Franciscan Father Kurt Hartrich pastor of St. Peter Parish in Chicago, wrote about Father Behnen after his death: "Father Bob had a commitment to the social justice teachings of the Church and living them faithfully in his life as a friar and a priest. Many a person who was suffering from a variety of problems came to him for solace and assistance. He was a friend of the poor and an advocate for the down and out. His compassionate heart was always ready to be of service ..."
A catcher in baseball who played on a CYC team, the New York Yankees showed interest in signing him to a contract.
Survivors include his brother, Jerry Behnen. Burial was in Resurrection Cemetery.
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