December 14, 1947-June 1, 2021
Fr. Robert J. Schreiter, C.PP.S., 73, died on June 1, 2021, at his home in Chicago. He had been in failing health.
He was born on December 14, 1947, in Nebraska City, Neb., to Robert F. and Mildred (Kreifels) Schreiter. He entered the Congregation in 1961 at Brunnerdale, the Missionaries’ former high school seminary outside of Canton, Ohio, and was ordained on June 21, 1975 at St. Mary Church in Nebraska City.
Fr. Schreiter had an amazingly agile brain that could make its way through nearly any puzzle or maze, spinning a web of connections and conclusions that might elude the rest of us. A world-renowned author and theologian, he got through high school and his undergraduate studies each in three years, earning degrees in philosophy and psychology from Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Ind. Fr. Schreiter, who spoke four languages, earned his doctoral degree in theology from the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands. There he studied under the renowned theologian Edward Schillebeeckx, OP.
He put his many talents to work for the Church and the Congregation immediately after his ordination when he became a faculty member at Catholic Theological Union (CTU) in Chicago. He remained on the faculty (serving as academic dean from 1977-86) until May 2021, when he retired and was named professor emeritus.
Aside from classroom teaching, at which his many students will affirm that he excelled, he managed to find many other ways to share the Good News with the whole world. An author and editor of many books, articles and academic papers; a preacher and presenter, he traveled around the world to speak—and more importantly to listen to—people who had lived through such traumas as civil war and natural disasters. To all, he imparted the message that healing and reconciliation could be found in the Precious Blood of Jesus. Bishops invited him to speak at trouble spots around the globe to be a messenger of peace for the people of God.
For his own Congregation, he provided an invaluable articulation of its spirituality: that its mission is one of promoting peace and reconciliation through the Precious Blood of Jesus, shed for all. The Missionaries’ candidates sat in Fr. Schreiter’s classroom at CTU and absorbed his message, and were welcomed to his office hours where he freely helped them understand complex points of theology. Missionary priests and religious brothers turned to him for council and advice. Precious Blood Companions (lay associates) enjoyed his retreats, which like all of his presentations were delivered in a manner that was clear, vivid and easy to understand.
As he was sharing his freely gifts with others, he gladly accepted the gift of the stories he heard from the people, which were useful to his always-evolving spiritual understanding. His students appreciated his generosity with his time and what they described as his pastoral heart. One student said of him, “What I hope to imitate or take away from Fr. Bob Schreiter is the driving desire to help people become closer to God in a way that cherishes who they are as persons, where they are coming from. He takes people where they’re at. He focuses on individuals and bringing them to God.”
Fr. Schreiter was also active in the leadership of the Congregation, serving on its senate, as its vice provincial director, and on the general council of the worldwide Congregation. He also served as formation director, guiding candidates toward ordination as a priest or profession as a religious brother.
He explained his personal mission and ministry in this way: “Peacebuilding is arduous and often frustrating work, since there are many setbacks and disappointments. What has come about in recent years is a growing awareness of how important the role of faith is in this work. . . The work is exhilarating, because one feels that such things help make a difference in the world. . . But as we learn in our faith, it is not my work, but God’s. A ministry of reconciliation flows directly from our Precious Blood spirituality. And I have been happy to be part of this.”
Fr. Schreiter grew up on a farm, the oldest of six siblings. Among his survivors are two sisters, Mary (Thomas) Liesemeyer, Nebraska City, Neb., and Jean Taylor, Bulverde, Tex.; three brothers, Thomas, Clear Lake City, Tex.; James (Marta), Wimberly, Tex.; and John (Diane), Nebraska City; and numerous nieces and nephews.
A Mass of Christian Burial was held on Thursday, June 10, 2021, at 2 p.m. at St. Charles Center, Carthagena, Ohio, with Fr. Jeffrey Kirch, C.PP.S., provincial director, presiding.
Burial followed in the Community cemetery at St. Charles.
CTU will celebrate a memorial Mass in August, when faculty and students have returned to campus.
Memorial donations may be made to the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Cincinnati Province.
Condolences may be left at Hogenkamp Funeral Homes.