For 47 years, Fr. Robert (Bob) Kleiner lived the best adventure, sharing the Gospel and serving people around the world as a Comboni Missionary. He was kind, generous, and a friend to all. After living a very full life, Fr. Bob went home to be with our Lord in the late hours of Saturday, February 2, 2019 at Los Angeles, California.
A funeral Mass will be held for Fr. Bob Kleiner at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8, 2019 at Holy Cross Church in Los Angeles, 4705 South Main St. Los Angeles, California 90037. A viewing will be held from 10 a.m. until the Mass that evening.
On Tuesday, February 12, 2019, a funeral Mass will be held at St. William Church, 4108 West 8th Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45205. Visitation begins at 9 a.m. with the Mass to follow at 10 a.m.
Fr. Bob was born in Cincinnati’s West side on February 22, 1944. He attended St. Pius X Parish in Northside and joined the Comboni Missionaries at Sacred Heart Seminary in Anderson Township (then Forestville) for high school. His novitiate and college studies took him to San Diego, California and Cincinnati, Ohio (1966–1971). He was ordained a missionary priest on May 29, 1971 at St. Peter in Chains Cathedral in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Just two months later, Fr. Bob was on his way to Peru for his first missionary assignment. The little town of Yanahuanca was high in the mountains, an eight-hour drive from Lima. There were 36 towns in the parish, all up and down the side of the mountain.
“Although I studied a little Spanish in the seminary in Cincinnati, most of my Spanish I tried to learn on the job, celebrating Masses in different towns in the mountains,” wrote Fr. Bob in an article in 2011.
He stayed in Peru for three years. A series of illnesses that wouldn’t get better in the cold mountain air forced Fr. Bob back to the United States for treatment. Within a year he was assigned to work at a high school seminary in Ciudad Constitucion, Mexico.
“I was one of three priests in charge of these young students. I taught them religion and English. We worked with them each day in cleaning the seminary and grounds. We often played soccer with them in the afternoon for an hour. We had our Mass and prayers with them each day. It was a great experience for me to be with those young people. For some reason they make you feel young again,” wrote Fr. Bob, reflecting on his time in Mexico.
He stayed at the high school seminary from 1976 to 1982.
In 1982, Fr. Bob was assigned to Holy Cross Parish in Los Angeles, California where he worked for eight years. In 1991, Fr. Bob left sunny California for the windy city. He, along with Fr. Domingo Campdepadros, started the first Comboni community parish in Blue Island, Illinois (Chicago Archdiocese) at St. Donatus and Seven Holy Founders.
This was a new mission area for the Comboni Missionaries, and the work Fr. Bob and Fr. Domingo put in there helped build a community. Even now, the Italian and Hispanic communities surrounding our mission center in La Grange Park, Illinois, are wonderful supporters and collaborators. Fr. Bob stayed in Chicago until 2002.
From 2003 until his death, Fr. Bob spent the rest of his missionary life in Los Angeles, California, serving at Holy Cross and St. Cecilia parishes.
“It has been really worth it – I would not want to change my missionary vocation for anything. I feel so much inspiration and love being and working with the people. They are my inspiration to follow Christ and my vocation to the priesthood,” wrote Fr. Bob.