Date of death: 5/19/2015

Saint Meinrad Class: C 1986

Father Robert Lee Napier passed into eternal life on Tuesday, May 19, after suffering from a long and chronic illness. He was 67. It was the very day he would have celebrated his 25th anniversary to the priesthood.Father Napier is survived by his parents, Howard and Margaret Napier of Brewster, Ohio; his brother, James and his wife, Michelle of Westlake Village, Calif., and their children, Christian and Lindsay; his sister, Kathleen Napier-Levine and her husband, Steve of Ooltewah, Tenn., and their children, Tyler and C.J.He was born on Oct. 2, 1947 and grew up on a farm outside of Brewster, Ohio. He is a 1965 graduate of Fairless High school and he attended Kent State University and the University of Akron earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology. He later attended St. Meinrad College in Indiana and St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, Fla., where he received a master’s of divinity degree. Prior to becoming a Catholic priest, Father Napier worked for Allegheny Airlines and served on the personal staff of President Jimmy Carter during his administration. He eventually moved to Interlachen, Fla. to open an antique business. He also worked for the Putnam County School Board. It was in Interlachen that Father Bob said he had one of those unexplainable mystical experiences that initiated a series of changes in his life. ‘I walked into a Catholic Church,’ he recounts, ‘and found that Mass was going on.’ Father Bob, a Methodist, had often had thoughts of becoming a minister but from that point he found himself drawn to the Catholic faith and before the year was up he had joined the Catholic Church. Several years later in 1983, after becoming involved in layministry at St. Monica Parish in Palatka, Fla., Father Bob said he had a strong desire to become a priest. The following fall he entered the seminary. He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop John J. Snyder on May 19, 1990. Since his ordination, he served in several parishes in the Diocese of St. Augustine. He served as pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Interlachen, Fla. for more than 12 years before retiring in 2014. ‘I look at life as a journey,’ he said in an article after his ordination in 1990. ‘Sometimes we recognize Christ along the way, sometimes we don’t. It’s not an easy road and for people who don’t have Jesus Christ in their lives, I don’t know how they do it.’ Deacon Fred Brown, who served closely with Father Bob at St. John the Evangelist Parish, said he was a very spiritual man and a wonderful mentor. ‘He had a deep love for the Lord,’ said Deacon Fred. ‘He once told me [as a deacon] if you are going to err -always err on the side of mercy.’ – See more at: