Monsignor Robert E. Lawrence, 75, a retired and beloved priest and pioneering figure in establishing the Diocesan Marriage Tribunal, was called to his eternal rest on May 25.
Msgr. Lawrence had been diagnosed with cancer at St. Bernardine Medical Center and then sought treatment at Anderson Cancer Treatment Hospital in Houston, TX. When his death became imminent, he received hospice care at the home of his sister, Mary, and brother-in-law, Harry, in in Tomball, TX. He died peacefully and happily in their company.
Robert E. Lawrence was born to Robert A. and Mary (Crowley) Lawrence on June 30, 1939 in Rutland, VT. Discerning a call to priesthood, Robert attended St. John Vianney Seminary, Randolph, VT from 1962-63 and the Theological College of the Catholic University of America, Washington, D. C. from 1963-67. On completing his theological studies, Robert was ordained a priest May 19, 1967.
After ordination Fr. Lawrence began his priestly ministry as Curate at Holy Angels Parish, St. Albans. He obtained a Licentiate in Canon Law at Catholic University, Washington, D.C. in 1974.
At the invitation of Bishop Phillip Straling, Fr. Lawrence transferred to the newly established Diocese of San Bernardino in 1979 to assist in setting up and operating the Marriage Tribunal, serving as Judicial Vicar, Pro-Synodal Judge, Advocate and Defender of the Bond. He was incardinated into the Presbyterate of the Diocese of San Bernardino in 1984. He was honored in 1990 as “Prelate of Honor to His Holiness” St. John Paul II, assuming the title Monsignor. In his retirement after 2004, he continued to share his time and expertise with the Tribunal Staff and delighted in priestly ministry at St. Mary’s Catholic Indian Mission at Cabazon.
“In visiting with Msgr. Bob during his hospitalization at St. Bernardine Medical Center, prior to his going to Anderson Hospital in Houston, it pleased me to express gratitude to him from all of us for the gift of his life among us and his faithful service to our Diocese,” Bishop Gerald Barnes said in a letter announcing the passing of Msgr. Lawrence.
A Vigil Service was scheduled at St. Kateri Tekakwitha Church, 1234 Palm Ave, Beaumont on Monday, June 6 at 7 p.m. Bishop Barnes was to celebrate the Mass of Christian Burial at St. Kateri Tekakwitha Church on Tuesday, June 7 at 11 a.m. The funeral procession was from St. Kateri Tekakwitha Church to Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Cemetery, 3510 Washington St., Colton, where the Rite of Christian Burial was to take place.