A chaplain’s abundant life

Father Bob Beloin edified, counseled, and inspired students and faculty.

Courtesy Saint Thomas More Chapel & Center at Yale

Courtesy Saint Thomas More Chapel & Center at Yale

The Reverend Robert L. Beloin, who died in September, was Yale’s seventh Catholic chaplain. View full image

The Reverend Robert L. Beloin died of glioblastoma on September 23, during his 25th year as Yale’s seventh Catholic chaplain. He was 71. Kerry Alys Robinson ’94MAR, global ambassador for the Catholic organization Leadership Roundtable, worked closely with Beloin as the director of development at Saint Thomas More, the Catholic chapel and center at Yale. She offers this remembrance.

The secret to Fr. Bob Beloin’s abundant life was his unalterable faith in God’s presence and mercy, and his concomitant commitment to be a beneficial presence in the world. Highly energetic and superbly pastoral, he was an immensely hard-working priest, but his love for his ministry over 45 years led him to boast that he had never worked a day in his life.

Evidence would suggest otherwise. At Yale, he raised more than $75 million, built the Thomas E. Golden Jr. Center, renovated Saint Thomas More Chapel and the chaplain’s residence, established the Center for Music and Liturgy, founded a national young-adult leadership formation program, and oversaw a dazzling expansion of Catholic intellectual, spiritual, liturgical, and programmatic life on campus.

He was a towering figure on Yale’s campus, beloved for his joyfulness and wisdom. He was the sauce boss in the soup kitchen, the perfect confessor, an impeccable host, and a world-class homilist. For nearly a quarter of a century, he edified, counseled, and inspired students and faculty, showing us what a welcoming, vibrant, loving, and inclusive faith community could be. He was consistently generous and radically other-centered, and promoting human dignity was his compass.

Fr. Bob’s impact was local, diocesan, national, and global. He was as proud to be arrested for protesting the deportation of the Ramos family in 2017 as he was to be awarded the Yale Medal in 2011. He raised the bar of Catholic campus ministry at Yale to inspire other chaplaincies, demonstrating what campus ministry can look like with the right vision, tenacity, and an indefatigable pursuit of mission over maintenance.

He was a passionate advocate of lay leadership and fiercely promoted the role of women in the church. Following revelations of the sexual abuse crisis in the church in 2002, Fr. Bob took decisive action. Courageous, unafraid, prophetic, and prescient, he hosted a three-day conference entitled “Governance, Accountability, and the Future of the Catholic Church.” It examined the conditions that contributed to the crisis and began to map a blueprint for care and justice of victims, the restoration of trust and credibility in the church, and reform necessary to ensure protection, safety, accountability, and transparency.

The absence of his beneficial presence is deeply felt. The impact of his abundant life is everlasting.


  • Paul G Tierney
    Paul G Tierney, 1:10pm October 31 2018 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Wonderful human being! I was proud to be at the dinner at which he was presented the Yale Medal.

  • Regan W. Craig
    Regan W. Craig, 1:39pm October 31 2018 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Bless Fr. Bob! My time at Yale would have been sorely lacking in a core sense of family without the love shown by him and Sister Jo-Ann. He has been on my mind nonstop since news of his diagnosis. May choirs of angels greet you and speed you to paradise and God hold you in the palm of His hand until we meet again.

    With love and unending gratitude always. xo

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