Father Robert Doane Pelton
Father Robert Pelton, priest of Madonna House Apostolate and of the Diocese of Pembroke, died at St. Francis Memorial Hospital, Barry’s Bay, ON, on October 16, 2020.
Father Bob, son of Mark D. Pelton and Margaret McKay Pelton Rieth, was born in Cleveland, OH, October 1, 1935. He attended elementary and secondary schools in the Cleveland area, and then graduated from Yale University, New Haven, CT, magna cum laude in 1957.
During the college spring break in 1956, he visited a friend who had become a member of Madonna House Apostolate in Combermere and was there received into the Catholic Church at Easter. He returned to Madonna House after his graduation from Yale and entered St. Jerome’s College Seminary in Kitchener, ON, in 1958, continuing on to St. Mary’s Seminary and University School of Theology in Baltimore, MD.
On May 31, 1963, he was ordained to the priesthood in the Canadian Martyrs Church in Combermere, ON, the first of the laymen of Madonna House to be ordained priest. After a brief time of serving in the parishes of the Diocese of Pembroke, he continued his study of moral theology in Rome and Islamic studies at McGill University, Montreal. In 1971 he pursued studies in the History of Religions at the University of Chicago Divinity School completing his Master’s degree in 1971 and his Ph.D. in 1974. His doctoral thesis, The Trickster in West Africa: A Study of Mythic Irony and Sacred Delight, was published by University of California Press in 1980. He returned to the University of Chicago in the spring of 1976 to teach courses on West African religion and the meaning and practice of prayer.
From 1975 to 1984, he was able to embrace more fully living a life of prayer through his life in poustinia, a Russian style of hermitage, while still available for lectures, courses, and spiritual direction. A series of articles on the liturgical year written for Restoration, a Madonna House publication, was edited and published as Circling the Sun: Meditations on Christ in Liturgy and Time by Pastoral Press, Washington, D.C.
In 1984, his brother priests of Madonna House chose him to succeed the deceased priest-founder of Madonna House, Fr. John Callahan, as Director General of the Priests of Madonna House. He embraced this particular service, along with his co-directors Jean Fox, Jim Guinan, Albert Osterberger until 2004.
In 2016, he moved from his poustinia to St. Mary’s, and eventually to Our Lady of the Visitation in St. Mary’s.
He was predeceased by his parents and is survived by his brother, Richard Pelton and nephew Richard.
A public viewing of the body will be held at Heubner Funeral Home in Barry’s Bay according to the present protocols on Wednesday, October 22 from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. The wake service and funeral will be held privately for members of the community on Thursday and Friday at Madonna House.
Madonna House community would like to express their gratitude for Dr. Ray Dawes for his attentive care for Father Pelton, particularly in the last years, and to the Bayshore nurses and to all those who helped care for him in Our Lady of the Visitation.
Due to provincial directives, the maximum number of people in the funeral home/church at any time is 30% of the venue capacity and you must keep a minimum distance of 6 feet between you at all times. This means no hugging, handshakes or other forms of contact with people outside of your household. Masks are now mandatory to enter the funeral home/church/service location. You must remain outside in your vehicle (no waiting outside the funeral home/service location) and wait to be allowed inside and you must sign in with your name and phone number once you enter for contact tracing purposes. Please also ensure you use the hand sanitizer as requested. We no longer take donations, but there are links and phone numbers below to donate directly to each organization if applicable.
To send flowers to Father Robert Doane Pelton's family, please visit our floral store.