Let us pray in thanksgiving for the life of Fr. Robert W. Leiweke, SJ, who died on Tuesday, April 11, 2017, at St. Camillus in Wauwatosa, Wis. He was 89 years old, a Jesuit for 71 years, and a priest for 58 years.
Born in St. Louis on December 5, 1927, Bob attended grade school and high school in St. Louis and in Fairfield, Ill. and Springfield, Ill. before entering the Society of Jesus at St. Stanislaus Seminary in Florissant, Mo. on August 8, 1945. He had the usual Jesuit course of studies at St. Stanislaus, Saint Louis University, and St. Mary's College. Bob was ordained a priest on June 18, 1958, made tertianship at Rathfarnham Castle in Dublin, Ireland, and professed his final vows on January 4, 1977. Although Bob entered and remained a member of the Missouri Province (now the USA Central and Southern Province) until his death, after regency all his assignments were in the Wisconsin Province, to which he was applied.
After regency (1952–54) at Regis High School in Denver, Bob spent many years in secondary education, as a religion teacher at Campion High School in Prairie du Chien, Wis. (1965–73) and at Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha, where he was rector from 1973 to 1978. But he will be best remembered in his role as a very popular spiritual director — for the juniors at St. Bonifacius in Minnesota (1961–64), at Emmaus in Des Moines, Iowa (1980–82), in the Archdiocese of Omaha (1982–89), and in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee (1992–2010). In Milwaukee, Bob was a founding member of Marquette’s Center of Ignatian Spirituality. He also served as an assistant to the rectors of the Creighton University Jesuit Community (1989–91) and the Marquette University Jesuit Community (1992–2004). In 2010 Bob moved to the St. Camillus Jesuit Community, where he continued to do spiritual direction as long as his health permitted.
Bob was a holy, quiet, competent, supportive Jesuit whom people found it easy to trust and whose advice they found unfailingly wise. He was much beloved by his brother Jesuits and by the many, many religious and laypeople to whom he ministered. His legacy is not in what he wrote, built, or "accomplished" but in how well he listened and how well he shared God’s love and encouragement with others.
Read A Jesuit's Journey reflection about Fr. Leiweke.