Brother Robert Joseph Fisher, O.S.A. (1934 - 2006)
Brother Robert J. Fisher, O.S.A. entered eternal life on December 20, 2006 after a short illness.
Robert Joseph Fisher was born on April 1, 1934 in Chicago, Illinois to Edward and Barbara (Verzak) Fisher. He was baptized on April 15, 1934 at Sts. Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church, Chicago. He received the Sacrament of Confirmation on May 23, 1944 at St. Justin Catholic Church, Chicago.
Robert received his elementary education at St. Justin School, Chicago. He studied for one year at St. Rita High School, Chicago, before entering the Augustinian program of formation at St. Augustine Seminary, Holland, Michigan, in 1949. He earned his high school diploma at St. Augustine in 1952.
He was received into the Augustinian Novitiate on September 9, 1952. Robert professed simple (temporary) vows in the Order of St. Augustine on September 10, 1953. He entered the program of preparation for priesthood at St. Mary’s Hall, Villanova University, Villanova, Pennsylvania, where he studied from 1953 until 1956.
After two and one-half years at St. Mary’s Hall, Robert discerned that his call was not to the priesthood. Rather, it was to the Augustinian brotherhood. Church law at that time required that he repeat his Novitiate year. So, he was again received into the Augustinian Novitiate on February 15, 1956, taking the name Brother Joseph. He would later return to the use of his original first name, Robert. His temporary vows expired during the time of this second Novitiate. He again professed simple vows in the Order of St. Augustine on February 16, 1957 and solemn (permanent) vows on February 16, 1960.
Brother Fisher earned a B.S. in Industrial Arts from Stout State University, Menominee, Wisconsin, in 1959 and an M.S. in Industrial Education from Stout State University in 1969. He studied Automotives at Greer Trade School and did additional studies at a number of schools: Chicago State University and the Art Institute of Chicago, both in Chicago; Prairie State College, Chicago Heights, Illinois; and Tolentine College, Olympia Fields, Illinois.
He was assigned to St. Augustine Parish, Detroit, Michigan, in 1957 and assisted there in the church, school and monastery. Later that same year, he joined the faculty of Mendel Catholic High School, Chicago. In 1959, Brother Fisher was transferred to St. Rita High School, Chicago, as a teacher of Automotives, Data Processing, English, Religion and Art. He was called the “spark plug of the Automotives Department” at St. Rita. Brother Fisher helped to bring computer technology to the school in the early days of the computer age. He also especially enjoyed being Moderator of the Band Boosters.
In 1981, Brother Fisher was assigned to St. John Stone Friary, Chicago, where he served on the formation team. He was named Director of Continuing Education for the Province of Our Mother of Good Counsel in 1982.
Brother Fisher moved in 1990 to St. Gregory Parish, Cambridge, Ontario, where he was Pastoral Associate. Participants in the Adult Education program there especially appreciated his ministry. In 1993, he was assigned to St. Jude Parish, New Lenox, Illinois. While residing there, he served as chaplain of Bishop McNamara High School, Kankakee, Illinois. In 1994, he relocated to St. Augustine Friary, Kankakee, while continuing to serve at Bishop McNamara.
He returned to St. Jude Parish, New Lenox, in 1997, serving as Religious Education Coordinator until 2001. In that year, Brother Fisher was transferred to the newly established retirement community for friars in Homer Glen, Illinois, known as Our Lady of Grace Community. He was Treasurer of the community and assisted in caring for the friars. When the retired friars were relocated to St. Nicholas of Tolentine Monastery, Olympia Fields, he moved there and continued to collaborate in the care of the elderly friars needing special assistance.
In addition to his ministerial duties, Brother Fisher enjoyed researching his family genealogy.
Tumors were discovered in Brother Fisher’s brain and in a lung in October 2006. He began radiation and chemotherapy, but these treatments were halted after a short time. He entered Hospice care during the evening of December 19, 2006 and died in the early hours of December 20.
Familiarly called Brother Joe, Brother Bob, or Brother Joe-Bob by those who knew him, Brother Fisher is remembered as a dedicated Augustinian Friar who shared his gifts in many ways. He was devoted to the well-being of his fellow friars, especially the elderly, and was willing to help in any way he could. His availability and caring attitude were greatly appreciated.
In 1997, he was inducted into the St. Rita High School Hall of Fame. The Decree if Induction says, in part, “This tireless, generous and always-amiable Augustinian Brother . . . will always be remembered by the thousands of students, band members, parents and teachers whose lives he improved throughout his years as a caring and knowledgeable friend and teacher.”
He is buried in the Augustinian plot at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Alsip, Illinois.