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Father Leonard Francis Chrobot  



Father Chrobot remembered

SOUTH BEND — Father Leonard F. Chrobot, retired priest of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend has died following a car accident. He was 76.


Born one of three children to Henry and Marie Chrobot in South Bend in April of 1938, Father Chrobot’s early education began at St. Adalbert School. He attended St. Mary’s Preparatory School in Orchard Lake, Michigan, during his high school years. His seminary studies took him to Ss. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in Orchard Lake, Michigan, after which he was ordained to the Priesthood by Bishop Leo A. Pursley at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne on May 30, 1964. He later earned a master’s degree from Purdue University and a doctorate from Wayne State University.

Father Chrobot’s priestly service included teaching at Bishop Dwenger High School from 1964-1967, then as assistant to the pastor at St. Hyacinth Parish. He also taught at the University of Notre Dame. He was released from the diocese by Bishop Pursley to serve at Orchard Lake Seminary in Michigan where he taught and served as academic dean from 1968-1976 and president from 1977- 1987. It was there that he had the privilege of the first of several meetings with then Archbishop Karol Wojtyla of Krakow who later became Pope John Paul II.


In 1989, Father Chrobot was appointed pastor of St. Mary of the Lake Parish in Culver until his reassignment in 1991 to St. Adalbert Parish where he shepherded the people there for four years. In 1995 Father Chrobot was appointed pastor of St. Hedwig Parish in South Bend and in 2001 he was appointed pastor of both St. Hedwig and St. Patrick Parishes.

He was noted for his great interest in Polish-American Culture and was proud of his Polish heritage. He was involved in many ethnic heritage events and appointments, including founding the National Center for Urban Ethnic Affairs in Washington, D.C., and received a number of honors and awards, including the Fidelitas Medal, presented to him by Ss. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in 2005. Father Chrobot retired in August 2013 and was currently residing at Holy Cross Village at Notre Dame.

Father Chrobot recently celebrated his 50th anniversary of ordination to the Priesthood and in an interview recalled for Today’s Catholic a very special moment when he and his mother greeted Pope John Paul II at St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, “John Paul II to me is one of the greatest figures of the 20th century. When I met him at St. Peter’s Square he gave me his full attention even with 10,000 people around. That was a remarkable gift that he had.”

Father Chrobot enjoyed his time at his cottage at Lake Tyrone in Michigan, where he was known to entertain both family and friends. Tracy Hoff, Father Chrobot’s niece, recalls her beloved uncle as “very family oriented” and having his large extended family up to the lake for holiday celebrations.

She considered him an “intellectualizer,” as well. “He loved to talk about philosophy, politics, spiritual issues and world issues,” she says, noting that he would speak with anyone who would challenge him.

Some of Hoff’s fondest memories stem from the holidays when Father Chrobot would celebrate Mass in his mother’s home for his entire family. When his mother died, Hoff took the tradition to her home. Last Thanksgiving nearly 40 family members were present to celebrate Mass. And “he always brought his dog. He loved his dog, Burek,” she recalls.

Bishop Rhoades said in a diocesan statement: “Father Len served for 50 years as a priest. He will be truly missed by so many who experienced the Lord’s grace through Father Len’s ministry. May God grant him the reward of his priestly labors.”

Father Chrobot was preceded in death by his parents and several family members. He is survived by his sister Joan and her husband Charles Webber and his brother Hank Chrobot as well as several nieces, nephews, grand nieces and nephews, and two great-great nephews. Mass of Christian burial was celebrated by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades on Sept. 13 at St. Hedwig Church. - Posted on September 16, 2014 - Today's Catholic News






Fr. Leonard F. Chrobot, former academic dean and college president of St. Mary’s College in Orchard Lake, died Sept. 9 in South Bend, Ind., after injuries suffered in a car accident, according to the South Bend Tribune newspaper. He was 76.


Born in South Bend on April 16, 1938, to Henry Chrobot and Marie Wroblewski, Fr. Chrobot attended St. Adalbert Elementary School in South Bend; St. Mary’s Preparatory, St. Mary’s College, SS. Cyril and Methodious Seminary in Orchard Lake; and was ordained to the priesthood in May 1964.

After teaching in schools in Indiana early in his ministry, including at the University of Notre Dame, Fr. Chrobot completed a master’s degree in American Literature from Purdue University in 1968 and a doctorate in 1975 from Wayne State University. In 1967, Bishop Leo Pursley released Fr. Chrobot to return to Orchard Lake to serve as dean of men and instructor of English for St. Mary’s College and American Literature for the St. Mary’s Prep. He served as academic dean of the college from 1968-76, and as president from 1977-87. In 1989, he returned to the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, serving in many roles as pastor, teacher and chaplain.

Proud of his Polish heritage, Fr. Chrobot was appointed coordinator of the American Polish Research Fellowship Program at Notre Dame. Among his many other accomplishments, he was one of the founders of the National Center for Urban Ethnic Affairs in Washington, D.C.; co-founder of the Polish American-Jewish American Dialog in Detroit, which developed into the National Polish American-Jewish American Council; one of 18 United States delegates to the 50th Anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1944; served as president of the Polish American Historical Association from 1987-1989; and named Outstanding Educator of the United States in 1970.

Fr. Chrobot is survived by his sister, Joan (Charles) Webber; his brother, Hank Chrobot; and many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents, his sister-in-law, Marylou Chrobot, his nephew Eric Webber, and a great-niece. A funeral Mass was Sept. 13 at St. Hedwig Church in South Bend - themichigancatholic . org






Longtime South Bend priest dies in car crash
    He served as a pastor keeping two catholic parishes alive in South Bend.

    And he was about to celebrate his 50th year as a priest this week.

    Sadly though, South Bend's Father Len Chrobot died Tuesday morning.

    There was somewhat of somber tone at Tuesday morning's mass at Saint Hedwig's Church.

    Father Len Chrobot, 76, retired more than a year ago.

    Before that, though, he had been suffering from various illnesses yet still loved to serve others in the Catholic Church.

    Father Leonard Chrobot was a longtime priest at St. Hedwigs starting in 1995 and also St. Patrick's in South Bend in 2001.

    On Monday afternoon, he was involved in an accident that sent five people to the hospital, where he eventually passed away Tuesday morning.

    His close friends would say he loved to keep his Polish roots alive at the parish and is now in a happier place.

    Father David Kashangaki from Saint Hedwig Catholic Church says, “He liked to tell the story of the immigrants that founded these two churches. That was a big part of his two regular discussions. He was always talking about that and very very proud of what those immigrants did and how they pushed to develop them.” Sep 9 2014 - WNDU







Fifty Years a Catholic Priest: R.I.P. Father Leonard Chrobot

Things were different in May 1964, when Father Leonard Chrobot was ordained to the priesthood. The Mass was entirely in Latin; the priest faced the altar during the liturgy; and the faithful knelt at the communion rail to receive the Eucharist.

Father Len saw many changes in his priestly life, but this didn’t change: He loved being a priest, and he loved his Polish roots. He had served as coordinator of the American Polish Research Fellowship Program at Notre Dame. He was one of the founders of the National Center for Urban Ethnic Affairs in Washington, DC, and was co-founder of the Polish American-Jewish American Dialogue in Detroit. which developed into the National Polish American-Jewish American Council. Father Chrobot was one of 18 United States delegates to the 50th Anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1944; served as president of the Polish American Historical Association from 1987-1989.

His many responsible positions included service as academic dean at St. Mary’s College from 1968-77 and as president from 1977-88. Before his r etirement last year, he served as pastor of two parishes in South Bend, Indiana: St. Hedwig’s and St. Patrick’s.

Last Monday, Father Chrobot was involved in an auto accident which sent five people to the hospital. Unfortunately, his injuries were serious; and he passed away on Tuesday morning, just days before a planned liturgy on Thursday to celebrate his fifty years of priestly ministry.

WNDU.com reports that Fr. David Kashangaki, current pastor of St. Hedwig Catholic Church, remembered his friend:
    “He liked to tell the story of the immigrants that founded these two churches. That was a big part of his two regular discussions. He was always talking about that and very very proud of what those immigrants did and how they pushed to develop them.”


The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend has issued a statement expressing sadness at his passing:
    Bishop Rhoades and the priests of the Diocese were deeply saddened upon receiving the news of Father Len Chrobot’s car accident and subsequent death.

    Father Chrobot’s 50th anniversary as a priest was to be celebrated along with other jubilarians at a Mass this Thursday at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne. Fr. Chrobot will be remembered in a special way at that Mass. The Bishop is especially remembering in prayer Fr. Chrobot’s family and the parishioners of Saint Hedwig and Saint Patrick Parishes in South Bend. He asks all to pray for the repose of the soul of Father Chrobot. Bishop Rhoades stated: “Father Len served for 50 years as a priest. He will be truly missed by so many who experienced the Lord’s grace through Father Len’s ministry. May God grant him the reward of his priestly labors.”


Rest in peace, Father Chrobot. May Almighty God, Whom you served with devotion and excellence, welcome you to the heavenly kingdom, and may you enjoy the reward which He has prepared for you. - - September 15, 2014 by Kathy Schiffer Patheos






Retirement begins Aug. 1 for Father Leonard Chrobot

SOUTH BEND — Father Leonard Chrobot, pastor at St. Hedwig and St. Patrick parishes and a professor at Notre Dame University, is set to retire Aug. 1, just shy of his 50th year as a priest. He has served as part of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend since 1964.

In addition to his parish responsibilities, Father Chrobot is a long-time educator and an advocate of the Polish-American heritage. He has been reflecting on Polish-American identity and the changes it has undergone for 40 years, he recounted to graduates of Ss. Cyril and Methodius Seminary during a commencement address in 2005.

A South Bend native, Father Chrobot, attended St. Adalbert Catholic School. Influenced by the Felician Sisters and his parish priests, his secondary education took place at St. Mary’s Preparatory in Orchard Lake, Mich., and he obtained a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from St. Mary’s College in 1960; a master’s degree from Purdue University, West Lafayette, in 1964; and a doctorate from Wayne State University in 1975. He was ordained to the Priesthood at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne on May 30, 1964, at which time he was assigned by Bishop Leo A. Pursley to teach at Bishop Dwenger High School in Fort Wayne and to assist at the parishes of St. Charles and St. Hyacinth.

During a leave of absence from the diocese, Father Chrobot served as academic dean at St. Mary’s College from 1968-77 and as president from 1977-88 — during which time tuition revenue at the college increased 93 percent, enrollment by 65 percent and the college became recognized as an influential cultural center and the heart of the white ethnic movement. He became an adjunct professor of sociology and coordinator of the American Polish Research Fellowship at Notre Dame in 1989, posts he has maintained ever since.

As immigration and assimilation changed the Polish-American landscape of South Bend and the larger Midwest in the 1960s and ‘70s, Father became a point person for the experience. He testified before the U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee on education in 1970 on behalf of the Ethnic Heritage Studies Centers Bill, which authorized $30 million to establish Ethnic Heritage Studies Centers throughout country. The centers developed curriculum materials for use in U.S. public schools that taught the cultural heritage of major ethnic groups in the country. Orchard Lake Schools, where he served as dean during that time, had previously established several such centers. His expertise has been called upon often and took the form of many appointments, including to the Committee on Cultural Democracy, the Michigan Department of Education, the National Coordinating Assembly on Ethnic Studies, The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and the American Catholic Bishops’ Commission on Liberty and Justice. He served as associate editor and associate director of the Polish American Studies periodical, on the board directors of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Michigan and of the Consortium of Catholic Colleges and Universities of Michigan, and as Polish American Historical Association president from 1987-89. He has traveled across the country speaking at parishes and educational institutions about Polish-American faith, history and culture, and traveled to Poland numerous times as well in educational capacities.

In 1979 Father Chrobot cofounded the “Polish American-Jewish American National Council,” a national organization of ethnic leaders.

Among his many honors are Phi Delta Kappa Outstanding Educator; Service Above Self award, Rotary Club of Dearborn Heights, Mich.; the Righteous Gentile citation, Shaarit Haplayah (Holocaust Survivors) of Metropolitan Detroit; and the Fidelitas Medal, given by Ss. Cyril and Methodius Seminary to him on May 7, 2005. He was invited to the White House again in 1993 as a guest of the U.S. State Department and Vice-President Al Gore for the 50th anniversary of the Warsaw Jewish Ghetto Uprising.

Father Chrobot had the honor of meeting Blessed Pope John Paul II several times. They became acquainted first when Blessed John Paul II was archbishop in Poland, and met again in 1976 when a delegation of some 20 bishops, led by then-Cardinal Wojtyla, came to Orchard Lake.

At the parish level, he served as an assistant at Our Lady of Refuge Parish, Orchard Lake, from 1967-83, St. Mary of the Snows in Milford, Mich., from 1983-89, pastor to Our Lady of the Lake at Culver Academies, Culver, 1989-91, and in South Bend, St. Adalbert from 1991-95, St. Hedwig beginning in 1995 and St. Patrick beginning in 2001.

The real measure of the success of a parish is the growth in “wisdom and grace before God and before man” of its people, Father Chrobot believes. However, the physical changes are more visible, and several took place during his tenure as pastor of the two parishes for the last dozen years.

Although he enjoys cooking and gardening, Father Chrobot said he also hopes to spend some of his retirement hours in South Bend developing his writings. - July 11, 2013 Today's Catholic News






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