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Obituary: Saenz, Fr. Roberto B., S.J.

Wed., May 9, 2012

Age 85


Roberto B., S.J.

Passed away the evening of May 3, 2012 at the Jesuit Infirmary, Spokane, WA.

The eldest of two children, Robert Bernard Sáenz was born December 15, 1926, to Bernard and Mary Teresa (Kelleher) Sáenz in Santa Monica, CA.

He graduated from St. Anthony Minor Seminary, Santa Barbara, CA, in 1944, and entered the Jesuit Novitiate at Sheridan, OR, on February 8, 1945.

Fluent in Spanish since his youth, he was sent to study theology in Oña, Spain, and was ordained a priest on July 30, 1957, in St. Ignatius Bascil, Spain.


Sáenz spent the next 15 years teaching Spanish, Language Arts, and Theology at Seattle University.

In 1972 Fr.

Sáenz began his work among the Hispanic Peoples of the Yakima Valley, a ministry that was both pastoral and focused on issues of social justice.

Robert changed his name to Roberto to more closely identify with the Hispanic community, and though he was a full-time priest in several parishes he made time to host a radio program in Spanish to educate and inform Hispanic People on many matters.

As he reached his late 70’s many health issues arose; at the request of his provincial Fr.

Sáenz moved to Spokane in 2005 to live and pray with his brother Jesuits at the Oregon Province assisted-living center.

The last month of his life he experienced kidney failure and passed away peacefully in the Jesuit Infirmary at Gonzaga University.

A vigil service will be held at 7pm, Wednesday, May 9 at the Jesuit House Chapel, Gonzaga University.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11:00am, Thursday, May 10, likewise at the Jesuit House Chapel.

Inurnment will follow at the Oregon Province Cemetery, Mt.

St. Michael’s, Spokane, WA.

In lieu of flowers contributions can be made to the Senior Fund (Oregon Province Society of Jesus, P.O.

Box 86010, Portland, OR 97286) or to Hospice of Spokane (121 S Arthur, Spokane, WA 99202).


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