Faith’s Advocate: Robert Gieb aims to help his neighbors for all the right reasons

North Texas Catholic
(Dec 27, 2023) Feature

Robert Gieb, a Fort Worth attorney for more than 45 years, at his law office on Nov. 15. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)

Robert Gieb has tomes about case law that cover an entire wall of a conference room, but that’s not unexpected for a lawyer of nearly 50 years. 

What might surprise you is his knowledge of construction design that can withstand termites and the rainy season in Uganda.

Gieb’s office is just blocks from the Tarrant County Courthouse, but his heart is in Uganda. And with local women considering abortion. And at the annual Red Mass. And especially in the pews of St. Patrick Cathedral in Fort Worth.


Offering opportunity

Gieb and his wife, Mary, have two children, three grandchildren, and after more than a decade of labor, about 325 bonus children in east Africa.

In January 2022, St. Mary Laetitia High School opened in the rural area of Ddegeya, Uganda, thanks to the planning and fundraising of Gieb and several other benefactors in the Diocese of Fort Worth. Owned and operated by the Diocese of Masaka, the coed boarding school offers a secondary education to Ugandan teenagers, whose mandatory public education ends at eighth grade. 

The idea for the school sparked from a friendship between Gieb, then parish council president at St. Patrick Cathedral, and a priest visiting from Uganda in 2005. With some seed money from St. Patrick parishioners, the Diocese of Masaka began purchasing parcels of land for the school in 2011. 

In the subsequent years, as money allowed, the school acquired 20 acres and built dormitories, classrooms, a kitchen, latrines, and a private water well until it was ready to welcome its first students two years ago. A chapel will be its next major project when resources permit.

Gieb’s knowledge of the details, from construction to topography, from government bureaucracy to uniforms, reveals the countless hours he has devoted to this school.

He’s not just concerned with education and career opportunities, however. The moral and spiritual formation of these Ugandan children is his priority.

“The guiding principle is that we’re supposed to lead these kids to God, through prayer, the teachings [of the faith], and the sacraments. That’s the basic deal. And we’re supposed to educate them in the process,” Gieb explained, noting that local priests serve the students’ sacramental needs, including Mass.


Local life

A product of local Catholic education, Gieb attended St. George Catholic School and Nolan Catholic High School before graduating from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. He then went on to earn a law degree at the University of Texas at Austin. Afterward, he worked as an assistant district attorney in Tarrant County in both the criminal and civil divisions. 

In the civil division, he represented various county agencies, including the Tarrant County Hospital District and Tarrant County Mental Health and Mental Retardation.

After leaving the district attorney’s office, he opened his private practice in 1984, where he focuses on estate planning and business law.

Robert Gieb, a Fort Worth attorney for more than 45 years, at his law office on Nov. 15. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)

In November, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Fort Worth Metro Chapter, recognized Gieb with its annual Outstanding Advisor award for his pro-bono legal work, which includes assisting priests in the 28-county Diocese of Fort Worth with wills and other estate planning documents. 

He was nominated for the honor by the Advancement Foundation for the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth. Renée Underwood, CFRE, chief development officer of the Advancement Foundation, noted Gieb’s humility, professionalism, and “lifetime of philanthropic service.”

Gieb has also provided legal counsel to pro-life advocacy groups, as well as spending many hours on the sidewalks of abortion clinics himself, offering prayer, counseling, and resources for women considering abortion.

“There’s joy in feeding the poor and educating the poor, but it’s one of the greatest joys in the world to save the life of an unborn child,” he said. 


Seeing red

In the legal community, Gieb may be best known as the founder of the local Red Mass, an annual liturgy for attorneys, judges, and civil servants.

With the approval of then Bishop Kevin Vann, Gieb wrote letters to members of the Tarrant County Bar Association, inviting them to the first Red Mass in 2006. In the intervening years, it’s grown to attract about 250 members of the legal community to attend the Mass, which is followed by dinner and a related speaker. 

“The Creator created an order, and the law is supposed to lead people to God,” he said, explaining that civil law helps us follow the natural law. “When you bring people together to pray, the benefits of the liturgy are there. … They are participating in this wonderful cosmic event, and it has a good effect,” Gieb said.

Gieb pointed out that at every Mass, the Holy Trinity and the Communion of Saints are present. “We may be limited [in our perception] because of our senses, but there’s no other place on earth that has that,” he asserted.

And the summit of Mass, he continued, “is the Eucharist. That’s absolute center. If you don’t have the Eucharist, you don't have anything. 

“The readings, that’s the word of God. It’s about Jesus’ life and His teachings and the history of salvation. But it all leads up to the Eucharist and the gift, the great gift.

And so that’s what has the most effect on me. It’s certainly supposed to be the center of what we do,” he said.

Gieb strives to make the Eucharist the center of what he does, beginning each weekday with Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration at St. Patrick Cathedral, praying for priests and vocations among other intentions. 

With his significant charitable work, successful legal practice, and commitment to his family, Gieb could warrant more accolades, but he wants to be remembered simply as “somebody who tried to follow the teachings of the Lord Jesus. That’s not always an easy thing to do. But we have grace.”

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