Father Robert “Bob” Jones, SJ, entered into God’s peace on August 11 in Los Gatos, Calif. He was 77.
A compassionate friend of and advocate for the homeless and vulnerable of our society, Fr. Jones was noted for his gentle spirit, wise words, and love of the outdoors. His signature beard, long flowing mane, and simple demeanor allowed him to enter the lives of many people not ordinarily reached by traditional Church programs.
The second of six siblings, Robert John Jones was born on March 30, 1939, in Missoula, Mont., to John C. and Viona (Henley) Jones. He grew up across the street from and attended the Catholic elementary and high school attached to the parish of St. Francis Xavier. He graduated from Loyola High School in 1957, and entered the Jesuit Novitiate in Sheridan, Ore., that same summer. He followed the regular course of Jesuit formation studies and teaching experiences and was ordained a priest June 13, 1970, in Spokane.
The opportunities and changes in the Church and world after Vatican II had a profound impact on Fr. Jones; although he was a talented athlete and effective leader who found inspiration from his Jesuit teachers and pastors, Fr. Jones believed that the Church and Society of Jesus needed to be immersed in the lives of the poor and marginalized. Following a few years of working in St. Joseph’s Church (Seattle) and Jesuit High School (Portland), he was given permission to “pitch his tent” among the poor and homeless and powerless of the Pacific Northwest, a ministry that lasted more than 30 years.
Fr. Jones lived in and worked with the various L’Arche communities, helped to build houses, led spiritual retreats, wandered the roads and streets of cities and towns, and was a priest-friend to the Native peoples of many areas. Sharing food, coffee, scripture, and everyday concerns was a staple of his life; Fr. Jones was an active listener who moved conversation on many topics toward the love of God for all people. Life on the road slowly took its toll on Fr. Jones; declining physical health necessitated his move to the Jesuit assisted-living center in Spokane 2010 and more recently to the Jesuit infirmary at the Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos.
Fr. Jones is survived by his sisters Geraldine Hernbrode, Alicia Young (Ross), Amedee Marx (Emmett), and Susie Corbett (Bill), and his brother Jim. Fr. Jones was preceded in death by his younger sister Jeannene Jones. There are several surviving nieces, nephews, and cousins, as well. He will be deeply missed by his many friends, colleagues, and brother Jesuits of the Oregon Province.
A funeral Mass for Fr. Jones will be celebrated at 11:00 am, August 18, in the Jesuit House Chapel, Gonzaga University. The inurnment will be at 1:30 pm, August 18, at Mt. St. Michaels Cemetery. Contributions in honor of Fr. Jones may be sent to: The Senior Fund, c/o The Oregon Province, Society of Jesus, P.O. Box 86010, Portland, OR, 97286. Gifts may be made at www.jesuitswest.org/OREdonations on our secure donation site.