The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

“How do you die right?”

Here’s a moving, even inspiring story of how one priest is using his own illness and death to give a lesson in living:

At the St. Anne Catholic Church, people have heard many sermons about life and death.

But one a recent Sunday, they got unexpected news about the latter in the church bulletin.

Father John Robbins told his congregation he is dying of prostate cancer.It’s a battle he’s been fighting for more than 10 years.

“It’s going to be obvious in the not-too-distant future that I’m ill. I look pretty good now and can do most of what I have done, but I do feel myself getting weaker, and I thought I should tell them as opposed to them finding out by the grapevine,” Robbins said.


Father John has been at St. Anne for nearly a decade.

The New York native loved to play tennis, loves the movies and – most of all – loves the people of St. Anne.

Some parishioners say Father John is the glue that has bonded people from the two very different communities of River Oaks and Montrose.

In his 37 years as a priest, he’s sat at countless bedsides, comforting the dying.

And even now, as his days come to a close, Father John counsels the living.

“As a priest, my whole life has been an attempt to live our faith, which includes belief in a life after death and the message of the resurrection. And I would like to teach that lesson, as I have tried to teach the Gospel lessons, not just by what I say, but what I do,” Robbins said.


There’s more at the link, and KHOU’s video report, below.

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posted November 30, 2009 at 12:37 pm

Death is a pre-existing, fatal condition (but don’t tell the insurance companies). Death simply is. It is not a failure, a judgment, or the result of some character flaw.
However, death is not our default condition.
Life is. Living well leads to dying well. Live fully, completely, and joyfully. When death happens it will be an afterthought.
Blessings on this priest and all who live well.

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posted December 23, 2009 at 11:04 am

Dcn. Kandra,
I thought you’d like to know that this priest, Fr. John Robbins, passed away last week. I was privileged to know him as my former pastor. He heard my first confession and confirmed me in 2001 during my conversion to Catholicism. He baptized my oldest daughter. And I had the pleasure of working closely with him for three years on the parish council of St. Anne’s Catholic Church in Houston. His funeral Mass is today, and it will be celebrated by His Eminence Daniel Cardinal Dinardo. You can find his obituary here:
Please pray for his soul!

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