Popular Priest, Theologian and Author Reaches Mountaintop — Then Falls and Dies

Father Robert Cormier, a New Jersey priest and author, has died in a tragic 1,000-foot fall from the top of Mount Hood.

According to MY9NJ.com, the local Fox News affiliate in Jersey City:

Sheriff’s office spokesman Pete Hughes said Cormier ascended Mount Hood’s south side with two others, one of whom suffered a leg cramp.

Cormier continued alone and appeared to reach the summit before he fell near Eliot Glacier at the volcanic peak 50 miles east of Portland.

A helicopter photographed him, but crews saw no signs of life.

Hughes says rescuers will wait until next week to recover Cormier’s body, when colder temperatures would afford them more stability on the rocks and ice.

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Father Cormier was a priest of the Archdiocese of Newark, and was also a teacher and theologian.  He was a pilot, as well as a mountain climber, sailor, cave explorer, scuba diver, and bus driver; and he also played the conga.

For seventeen years Father Cormier led the Spanish-speaking community of St. Rose of Lima in Newark.  During this time he was for ten years minister to Portuguese-speaking communities, and for one year, he ministered to Italian-speaking communities.

Father Bob had over 25 years experience in elementary and high schools, and has served as a prison chaplain and a rehab counselor.  For eighteen years he served as president of Project Live–a leading institution for the care of the mentally ill.

He spent fifteen summers as priest to the Mam, a Mayan tribe, in Western Guatemala.

Between 1989 and 1998, he was one of the three voices of The Radio Mass once heard live throughout the Eastern seaboard.  He was the spiritual director of the internet-based radio station Radio Inmaculada, on which he also had a weekly program.

Father Bob had a pontifical license in philosophy from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and a license in theology from the Gregorian University in Rome.  He was ordained by Pope John Paul II in 1982.

He served as a deacon in Thailand, visited some seventy other countries on six continents, and had some facility in eight modern languages.

He was the creator of Christian Materialism, a synthesis of philosophy and faith that comes complete with a spirituality, set of catechisms, books on marriage and ministry, works of fiction, music and art, and more.

The combined tables of contents of his books and other writings, and the catalog of his religious products is over 200 pages.

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As a participant in the Patheos Book Club, I had the privilege in January 2014 of reviewing Father Cormier’s book Better Than We Believed: How to Apply the Vision That is Faith to the Struggle That is Life.  It was a practical, helpful guide to the spiritual life.  In Better Than We Believed, Father Cormier recounted stories of people who were facing difficult problems–anger, stress, betrayal, resentment, grief, fear–and showed how these problems had been overcome through faith.

Now, news of Father Cormier’s death fills our hearts with grief.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.



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  • TapestryGarden

    This mountain, considered “easy” has claimed many lives. How sad to hear another bright light has dimmed. I live here and sadly every year there are reports of deaths on Mt Hood. Ironically 5/12 is the anniversary of the deaths of a dozen high school students on the mountain. Folks…please don’t think me critical but why do people take this completely unnecessary risk? This mountain is beautiful but deadly. It’s deceiving as one need not be a hiker to summit but unfortunately the shifting snow, the melting and the glacier claim too many. So sad this incredibly gifted and giving priest was claimed by the forces of nature. Please I am not trying to offend, just to warn.

  • Incredibly bad time of the year to climb Hood. Spring is when the thaws come, and Wy’East wakes up from the cold dark winter and shakes off loose rock (or at least, so said my distant Yakima cousins).