Deacon Bob Stuart (1920-2011) cared for elderly and suffering

Jenara Kocks Burgess

Correspondent

January 21, 2011

Deacon Bob Stuart

Deacon Robert Franklin Stuart, who served the Diocese of Fort Worth for almost 30 years, much of it at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Carrollton, died Jan. 16. “The best way to describe this dear sweet man is that Deacon Bob knew how to make others feel welcomed into our community through his handshake, smile, little jokes, friendly pat on the shoulder, and concern for our well being,” said Rosemary Manganilla, whose family has been members of St. Catherine since 1981.

A vigil service was held Jan. 20 at St. Catherine of Siena, Carrollton, with viewing at Restland Funeral Home in North Dallas (Greenville Avenue). A Mass of Christian Burial was held on Jan. 21 at St. Catherine of Siena, Carrollton.

Dcn. Stuart was born on June 24, 1920, in Fort Collins, Colorado. He grew up as a member of the Campbellite faith community (known today as Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)) but became an Episcopalian when he was 17 because of a visit he made to an Episcopal church as a child.

In 1940, Stuart joined the Army Air Corps, and was stationed in San Antonio. He met his future wife, Frances Eleanor Talbert, in early 1941 at a restaurant while passing through San Angelo. Three months later, he was scheduled to go to Puerto Rico, but a change in orders sent him to San Angelo, where he and Frances were married on June 1, 1941. They had three children, Frances, James, and Michael; eight grandchildren, and a great-grandson due in June.

After Bob left the Air Corps in 1945, he worked for Harris Seybold Corporation. He and his family lived in California for four years before returning to the Dallas area in 1949. After watching eight Episcopal bishops argue over the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist at a church convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he drove straight to the Catholic parish in his home town. A young priest at St. Mary’s Church assured him that all Catholics were in agreement about the real presence, so he decided to take instructions in the Catholic Church. Bob became Catholic in 1955.

After Harris Seybold closed all its offices in 1974, he told friends and family that he remembered waking up one Monday morning in June with an urge to go clean the church, St. Philip the Apostle Church in Lewisville. Later, Monsignor Joseph Schumacher, who was then the pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Denton, asked Stuart if he would like to be a deacon. He told family members and friends that he felt that God closed one door in his life to open another.

Dcn. Stuart was ordained as a permanent deacon on June 3, 1978. From 1978 to 1984, Dcn. Stuart worked part time at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Grapevine , and he also served as chaplain at the Tarrant County Jail. From 1984-1986, Dcn. Stuart worked full time at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Carrollton.

In 1986, Dcn. Stuart worked at St. Philip in Lewisville before returning to St. Catherine, where he served from 1987 to 2007, when he retired. After almost 30 years of serving the Lord, Dcn. Stuart told his family and friends that he still had the feeling of being called.

Manganilla, director of Social and Pastoral Ministries at St. Catherine, said that even after Dcn. Stuart’s retirement, he continued to be involved with community outreach by bringing Holy Communion to those in assisted living facilities and hospitals.

“He said that we should never forget the elderly and those unable to come to church because of illness,” she said.

Julie Kidd, a parishioner of St. Catherine’s, also remembered Dcn. Stuart as someone who cared deeply for people, and while at church, she often watched him console and pray with people who were sick, sad, lonely, or had lost their jobs.

“He cared especially for the suffering among us,” she said. “After my husband died, he sat with me for a few minutes before Mass, every week — just to talk or to listen and to pray.”

Deacon Robert Franklin Stuart, who served the Diocese of Fort Worth for almost 30 years, much of it at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Carrollton, died Jan. 16. “The best way to describe this dear sweet man is that Deacon Bob knew how to make others feel welcomed into our community through his handshake, smile, little jokes, friendly pat on the shoulder, and concern for our well being,” said Rosemary Manganilla, whose family has been members of St. Catherine since 1981.

Published (until 1/9/2115)
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