The Society of Mary in Australia and worldwide mourns the passing of Fr Robert (Bob) Barber SM on Feb 13 at Lismore Base Hospital, NSW.
Fr Bob, 71, had recently been appointed chaplain to Lismore's Trinity and Woodlawn Colleges, before a short hospitalisation for medical issues.
In announcing his passing, Marist Provincial, Fr Anthony Corcoran, adds 'We have unexpectedly lost a dear confrere and friend, a good and kind Christian man, a generous Marist and faithful priest. May he rest in peace.'
Father Bob’s Life
Robert (Bob) Barber was born in Canberra on the12th March 1949. His parents,Jack and Lil, had four children: a daughter, 18 months older than Bob, and thentwo more sons. His primary schooling was at Panania, Broadmeadow andBarmedman, NSW. The family moved to Newcastle when Bob was in Form Oneand Bob did all of his secondary schooling with the Marist Brothers at Hamilton.Sport would be the area in which he would be most remembered in school days.
After secondary school Bob joined the Marist Fathers. His first year was Novitiatein 1968 at Armidale, NSW. After first profession there were two years ofPhilosophy studies at Toongabbie, followed by two years of teacher training at theCatholic College of Education, then pastoral year at St Paul’s Bellambi in 1973.Bob’s first year of Theology was at Toongabbie and the final two at CatholicTheological Union, Hunters Hill.
Bob was ordained with Andrew Murray on 26th May 1975. His first appointmentwas back to Bellambi. This was followed by eight years at Woodlawn College,Lismore. He then went to Africa and lived and worked with the Marist Brothers inNairobi until May 1994. Later that year he went to Cameroon where he beganworking in the African District of the Marist Fathers, first in Yaoundé and then inBamenda. One of Fr Bob’s jobs was to help with the founding of the English speaking project in the Marist Mission District of Africa.
By correspondence Fr Bob had gained a B.Ed. and Grad. Dip. while working atWoodlawn and in Kenya. He returned to Australia for two years in 2002-03 whilehe had two knee replacements and worked in the Koori ministry in LismoreDiocese, gaining an M.A. (Indigenous Studies). He returned to Africa for 18months to help start up an educational project in the District and, when that projectfailed to get started, returned to Australia in mid 2005 for pastoral work in WestSunshine, Vic. In 2006 he moved to Hunters Hill to help in the ProvincialAdministration and was appointed Vicar-Provincial in 2007, serving later asProvincial of the Marist Fathers’ Australian Province, 2103-2018.
Fr Bob then joined the staff of the inner-city centre of St Patrick’s, Sydney, wherehe became the much-respected chaplain of the Young Adults’ Group.
In Jan 2021, Fr Bob moved to Lismore, NSW, to become chaplain to Trinity andWoodlawn Colleges, residing with the Marist Brothers. After a short period ofhospitalization for treatment of medical issues, he took suddenly ill and diedpeacefully in Lismore Base Hospital on 13th February, 2021.