Died 2 December 2019
Jesuit Father Robert J. Bueter died on Dec. 2, 2019 at Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Illinois. He was 77 years old. May he rest in peace.
Fr. Bueter is survived by two sisters, one brother, three nieces, eight grand nieces, and five grand nephews.
Fr. Bueter was born on July 2, 1942 in Oil City, Pennsylvania and raised in Fort Thomas, Kentucky. He entered the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus on September 1, 1960 at Milford, Ohio. He was ordained on June 16, 1973 in Cincinnati and took final vows on October 31, 1987 in Chicago.
Fr. Bueter graduated from St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati. As a Jesuit, he earned a bachelor's degree in classics and a master's degree in philosophy (1967) from Fordham University. He earned a Licentiate in Philosophy (1967) from the College of St. Ignatius Loyola in Shrub Oak, New York. He earned a master's of divinity (1976) from the Jesuit School of Theology in Chicago, Illinois. Fr. Bueter earned his doctorate in Catholic studies (2008) from Union Institute and University in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Throughout Fr. Bueter's Jesuit life, he had three loves (in addition to Jesus): secondary education, sports, and editing. During Regency, Fr. Bueter taught religion and coached the track team at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Illinois (1967-1970). While studying theology and after ordination, he was an editor for the National Jesuit News (1972-1975). After ordination, he returned to Loyola Academy for one year (1975-1976) where he taught religious studies and was chair of the religion department. Fr. Bueter then was asked to use his administrative gifts in the role of principal of St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago (1976-1984). As principal, Fr. Bueter helped the school become a co-educational institution. After a sabbatical, Fr. Bueter became an associate editor of America magazine (1985-1988).
In 1988, Fr. Bueter returned to his beloved secondary education. He was an assistant to the president at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati (1988-1989); vice president for development at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis (1989-1990); and principal of Lexington Catholic High School in Lexington, Kentucky (1990-1991). He then served 8 years as president of Lexington Catholic (1991-1999).
As president, Fr. Bueter helped raise enrollment at Lexington Catholic from 321 to over 750 students. He increased teachers' salaries (from 60% of what public school teachers received to 90%.) The buildings and grounds were expanded, adding classrooms, restrooms, a garden with fountain, a baseball field, a fieldhouse with weight room, a practice field, parking, and bleachers. He greatly improved and expanded the athletics program, including instituting a football team. In honor of all Fr. Bueter did for athletics at the school, when Lexington Catholic built the Robert J. Bueter, S.J. Athletic Center in 2000.
In 2000 (at the age of 58), Fr. Bueter decided to work towards a doctorate in Catholic studies at the Union Institute and University in Cincinnati, Ohio. While working toward his doctorate, Fr. Bueter had many other duties. He was an assistant to the president at Loyola Academy (2000-2001), acting superior of the Woodlawn Jesuit Community (2000-2003), associate director of the Lumen Christi Institute (2003-2006), and the minister of the St. Ignatius College Prep Jesuit Community (2006-2007). After completing his doctoral studies, Fr. Bueter was the associate director of Xavier University's Center for Catholic Education and an adjunct professor of education at Xavier University (2007-2013). In 2013, Fr. Bueter returned to Lexington Catholic as an assistant to the president and worked there until his death.
Fr. Bueter was a true apostolic entrepreneur and a gifted leader. He loved challenges and ideas with an enthusiasm that was contagious. This led to earning his doctorate later in life than most even while he was fully engaged in ministry. Fr. Bueter thrived with engaging conversations and even disagreements, always looking for a better way to handle the issue at hand. He led the way into coeducation at St. Ignatius College Prep with great skill and was able to hire a very talented cohort of faculty who would serve the school well for many years. Whether at America magazine or working with Lumen Christi, whether teaching at Loyola Academy or Xavier University, whether leading a school or caring for his Jesuit brothers as minister or superior, Fr. Bueter engaged people with passion and vision. He always came at things from a different angle which challenged everyone to think more creatively. His ministry at Lexington Catholic as principal, president, and development consultant were remarkable gifts to the Church of Lexington and tapped all of his many gifts for building up a wonderful school.
Fr. Bueter was a true son of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Though he crossed the Ohio to attend St. Xavier High School and enter the Society, his love of Bluegrass racing and bourbon remained strong. Fr. Bueter had true friends and enjoyed them whether on the basketball court or over a good meal. His preaching reflected a great relationship with the Lord and always brought the Gospel to bear on life in ways that matter.