Bob Delaney entered his new life with Christ on November 10, 2016. He leaves behind his wife Maria and son Michael. His first wife Rose and their daughter Miriam preceded him in death.
Bob grew up in Glendale, California. After graduation from St. Robert Bellarmine School in Burbank, he studied at the archdiocesan junior seminary in Los Angeles, and then at St. Patrick's Seminary in Menlo Park. He was ordained a priest in 1957 for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. His early parish ministry assignments were at San Antonio de Padua and at St. Gregory, both in Los Angeles. In 1965 he obtained permission from Cardinal McIntyre to work in Mexico. There he directed the feeding, clothing and education of about 400 boys at one of the houses of Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos, a home for poor children founded by Father Bill Wasson. In Mexico he met Rose Johnigk (Sister Francine), a Benedictine nun from Illinois.
After moving to Germany in 1968, he studied first at the University of Tübingen. Among his professors were Hans Küng and Joseph Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict XVI. Bob earned his doctorate in Sacred Theology at the University of Münster. Fluent in Spanish, German, Italian, French, and Portuguese, Bob helped the local parish in its ministry to guest workers from Spain and Portugal.
Rose already had left religious life and had moved to Germany. They renewed their friendship, love blossomed and they were married in 1970. His University of Tübingen classmate Father Ronald Modras officiated at their wedding. During the next 17 years Bob worked in Stuttgart, Germany for the World Catholic Federation for the Biblical Apostolate (later renamed the Catholic Biblical Federation). He was editor of the federation's publications, and he led seminars on five continents in six languages.
In Stuttgart, Bob and Rose adopted infants Michael and Miriam. In 1987 they and their two children moved to Alhambra, California. During the next seven years he worked at the Franciscan Communications Center in Los Angeles. Rose died in 1994 after a six-year battle with cancer. He moved to Santa Clara County to work as director of the Hispanic Apostolate for the Diocese of San Jose, under his former seminary classmate Bishop Pierre DuMaine, and later under Bishop Patrick McGrath.
Bob and his second wife Maria met at a Spanish language workshop where he was the presenter and discussion leader. She introduced herself as María Romero, viuda de Thomas. Love blossomed again, and they were married in 1999 at St. Joseph Church in Cupertino, California. Their mutual friend Bishop Richard Garcia officiated. Bob and Rose's daughter Miriam died suddently in 2011.
Some highlights of Bob's life include surfing, earning a pilot's license, speaking six languages fluently, and traveling. He especially liked to cook for family and friends. Many stories are told about his magic coin tricks and his great sense of humor. Family meant everything to him.
Bob was a great linguist, preacher, theologian, and leader. He was passionate about social justice, and set a great example for us all because of his kindness and generosity. He was well-loved and will be missed by numerous friends and relatives.
Maria was at Bob's bedside when he died peacefully. He is survived by his son Michael, his stepchildren Lisa and Joe, five grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.
A rosary service was held on Wednesday, November 16 at 6:30 p.m., and a memorial Mass was celebrated on Thursday, November 17 at 10 a.m. Both services were held at Transfiguration Church, 4325 Jarvis Ave. in San Jose. Bob's family requested "donations to your favorite charity" in lieu of flowers.
Rose, Bob, Miriam and Michael -- May 7, 1994
The text copied below is adapted from pages 287-292 of You Can't Hurry Love, published in 1992.
Rose and Robert represent a little-known population of first-time late marriers: ex-nuns and ex-priests who marry each other later in life. They first met in a small village in Mexico. Their respective religious orders ran an orphanage and a cooperative farm nearby. Both were on church assignments, she as a teacher, he as an administrator, and they became acquainted briefly. Midway through her tenure, Rose decided to leave the order. And it was Robert who, in his official capacity as priest, signed the documents releasing Rose from her duties.
Some years later, Rose went to Germany to visit relatives and found out Robert was studying at a seminary in the adjacent town. They began seeing each other as friends, catching up on old times. But the more time they spent together, the more their common values, enthusiasm for life, and "chemistry" brought them together. Robert eventually left the priesthood, and the two married. They were both forty-one.
They remained in Germany, where they were social activists in a multiethnic working-class community. During this time Rose had three miscarriages, after which they decided to adopt a baby. Rose recalls the life-changing telephone call from the adoption agency:
We were giving a big party when we got the call. There we were, at this interracial gathering, and Robert yells out, "Rose, do you mind if we have a mixed-race baby? " But of course it didn't make any difference to us.
Rose was forty-five when they adopted Michael. Nine months later the adoption agency called again, asking if they could handle another baby. Overwhelmed as she was, Rose couldn't say no. So she and Robert became the parents of two babies only eleven months apart. It was a difficult time because they had several community projects going, their tiny apartment was always full of people, and although Rose found the atmosphere stimulating, she was overwhelmed with her new responsibilities. How did an active woman in her mid-forties deal with two infants?
I had no idea what was going on, since I'd never been around babies before. We used to call it "baby shock" in Germany -- women having babies after thirty-five and being confronted with a child who makes demands on you which go far beyond any demands connected with a job. A baby doesn't go away at the end of a workday. But I had all these young mothers from the neighborhood telling me what to do, so that was a life-saver.
After years of being on her own, tending to the unending needs of two babies was a tremendous adjustment for Rose. The transformation she was called. upon to make was a profound one-and aptly labeled "baby shock" by her German friends. As dedicated and involved as she'd been in her professional life, Rose was. indeed shocked to discover that motherhood was a career that left her little time for "R-and-R." And while mothers (and fathers) of all ages cope with this reality, late-marrying parents often find it even more jarring-since they've lived independently for that many more of their adult years.
Energy, or the lack of it, didn't initially seem to be as big a problem for Rose and Robert as it was for other late-marrying parents of young children. They'd both led very active lives, lived in rugged conditions at times, and were extremely athletic. So chasing around after two tiny children was something they both took in stride. But as the years went on, they began to feel their age. Rose recounted how their endurance was tested as their children became teenagers:
When I look at pictures of the kids when they were babies, I look like I'm about twenty-five -- and I felt that young, too. No big deal, I just had to do the work and keep everything going. But as we got into it-because we were already forty-five when we got the babies, and that's already a whole hunk into forty-I found that parenting required more and more exertion and energy.
As teenagers, our kids are especially active. They constantly want to get out and do things, and I'm really not into such high-powered activity anymore. So when they say they want to go skiing, I tell them to go ahead -- without me. Ten or fifteen years ago, I would have said, "Oh, great, let's go!"
Robert agreed with his wife on the subject of declining energy levels. For example, he enjoys taking his sports-minded son to the track, but he doesn't run with him. Still, if Robert and Rose have slowed down a bit over the years, their devotion to their kids hasn't diminished one iota. They do their best to provide their children, now aged thirteen and fourteen, with a vigorous and interesting lifestyle. Rose explains:
While we can't do everything with them that we once could have, we don't want to deny the kids any worthwhile experiences. So, for example, last year we went camping in Yosemite. We did it for them. Whereas younger parents might want the experience for themselves and might go into it with an altogether different spirit, Robert and I have passed that stage. But we make sure the kids have a full life. When there's some activity that's too much for us, we try to come up with an alternative solution. For instance, we'll go to the park to play tennis and we suggest that Michael and Miriam bring two of their friends along. That way Robert and I will be well matched, and the kids will get to play with someone their own speed.
Like most parents of young teenagers, Rose and Robert have recently experienced their children's desire to become more independent. Whereas the family used to set aside Friday night for "game night," Michael and Miriam now prefer to hang out with their friends. Unlike younger parents, who might be worried or hurt by their teenagers' emerging emotional distance, Rose and Robert feel somewhat relieved to be off the hook. Robert confesses:
Even as recently as a few years ago I was much better at relating to teenagers than I am now. Energy is one factor, but it's also that the things teenagers are interested in don't have any appeal for me. Rose and I often look at one another and joke, "Can't we make them skip a grade or something?"
If Robert doesn't find the latest rock video or junior-high gossip as fascinating as some younger parents might, he also has the wisdom to know that each stage in a child's life is only temporary. He acknowledges that it won't be too much longer before he'll have more in common with his fast-maturing teenage children.
Both Robert and Rose are very young and healthy-looking fifty-nine-year-olds. Rose is a natural beauty who doesn't need blush to make her cheeks rosy, and Robert is trim and attractive. Yet one of the key issues Rose raised in connection with being an older parent of a teenager had to do with her daughter's anxiety about having older parents. It seems Miriam is quite concerned about her mother's appearance:
It's especially important for Miriam to have young-looking parents. She doesn't like us being or looking old. Since I don't wear any makeup at all, and she's very into it, for my birthday she gave me a tube of lipstick and some mascara. I was touched by that. I also knew she was upset about my gray hair, so I used a little hair coloring to brown it up a bit. Now, whenever I use makeup, Miriam will come to me and say, "Oh, Mom, it makes you look so much younger!" I don't place much importance on things like that, but she definitely does.
Rose's son, Michael, is less concerned than his sister about physical appearance and the whole age question. Perhaps it's because our culture still teaches girls that beauty and looks are essential to a woman's worth. On this count, our society's unspoken message remains virtually unchanged: when women age, they become less beautiful, less lovable, and less powerful. Looking to their mothers for a glimpse into their own futures, teenage girls hope to see an image that in some way resembles what the media validates. And that image is always a youthful one.
The stigma of having an older parent doesn't apply solely to mothers, however. A teenage daughter may dread showing up at a father-daughter dance with her sixty-year-old father, and a ten-year-old Boy Scout might feel embarrassed that his fifty-five-year-old dad is so much older than the other fathers on the camping trip. As the trend of older parenting grows, children of older mothers and fathers may find they feel less stigmatized. But among today's preteens and teenagers, having older parents is simply not the norm.
Miriam and Michael have had to field questions from their friends about why their parents are so old. Coming up with the answers can be a burden or an embarrassment, but being part of a "different" family is also a learning experience. You learn who your real friends are, for one thing. And as a child of older parents you're the recipient of the wisdom of their additional years. Rose and Robert have led rich lives and share that experience with their son and daughter.
From their point of view, though, Rose and Robert have learned at least as much as their children. Even all their years in humanitarian professions didn't yield the same lessons parenthood has. The day-to-day trials and rewards have taught them what it means to truly share yourself with another human being. And this process has helped them both grow as individuals. Robert summed up his feelings about becoming a parent later in life:
We would have been happy without the children; we were both very involved in our community work and with each other. But the children bring such a different dimension, such a demand to continue growing. And that would have been lost to us. Without them, we wouldn't have been challenged from crisis to crisis and from each sorrow to each joy.
Condolences and Memories
Our Lady of Guadalupe Celebration
at St. Francis of Assisi Parish, 2010
Dear Maria, saddened to read of Bob's passing. You were such a loyal, loving supportive partner. Enjoyed our coffee times together with Bob's many stories. Our thoughts are with you and your family.
Gary and Betty Kinoshita
Bob will be remembered by all of us graced with his presence.
Claire Davis, Casa Grande, AZ
Bob surely brought a global view to our family. We followed him through his days at the orphanage in Mexico, his move to Germany to get his doctorate, the family he built with my sister, Rosie, in Germany, and his return to the states, working with Franciscan Communications. Thank you, Maria, for bringing back love and joy to Bob after my sister died, and endlessly providing for his needs.
May peace be yours, and may you also be surrounded by loving family and friends.
Clare Waibel, Peoria, IL
Bob was such a kind and caring man. He made us laugh and always had a great Irish quote to share. I will miss his love for life. Sending prayers to the family.
Frankie Callahan, Sunnyvale, CA
A kind and gentle man who made our world a better place. God bless you Bob.
Mary McAllister, Campbell, CA
We have nothing but fond memories and love for Bob. We have been blessed with his friendship.
Vaya Con Dios, Bob!
We love you,
The Simpson Family
Your and your family are in our thoughts and prayers at your time of loss.
Joel and Sandy
17 years later, Bob and I were priests serving together in Mexico. Also working at Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos were two charming Benedictine nuns, Sister Thomas (Constance Roberts) and Sister Francine (Rose Johnigk). Connie and Rose first became friends in the late 1940s when they were high school students at St. Mary's Academy in Nauvoo, Illinois.
Connie and I were married in 1967. We visited Bob and Rose in Germany when they were newlyweds. 23 years later Connie spent several hours each day at USC Norris Cancer Center in Los Angeles, prayerfully sharing memories with Rose during her final illness. When you and Bob were married in 1999, we were guests at your lovely wedding and reception. He came to Connie's funeral in 2008, and we had breakfast together the next morning. It was the last time I saw Bob in this life.
I remember your dear husband as a gifted student, a learned and generous giver of spiritual care, a loving spouse and father, a skilled amateur magician and a marvelous friend. When we enter eternal life, may Jesus welcome all of us home.
Terry Halloran, Beaumont, CA
Rev. C. Vincent Patterson
Archdiocese of Seattle
Church of the Transfiguration
Father Brian Delaney, concelebrants
Bishop Patrick J. McGrath, in attendance
Before Mass: Instrumental, and
Entrance Song: All Are Welcome (#415)
First Reading: Isaiah 25:6, 7-9
Psalm 23: Shepherd Me, O God
Second Reading: 1 John 3:1-2
Gospel Reading: John 14:1-6
Homily: Father Brian
Gifts Song: Hail Mary, Gentle Woman (#711)
Acclamations: Mass of Christ the Savior
Communion Song: Panis Angelicus #(368)
Communion Meditation: Fly Like a Bird
Words of Remembrance:
Song of Farewell: In Paradisum (#833)
Final Remarks: Bishop McGrath
Recessional: On Eagle's Wings (#432)
Music provided by:
Eucharistic Ministers: Ann Vollmer and Lexie O'Keefe
Reception to follow at: