Died 11 August 2016
Jesuit Father Robert J. Jones entered into God’s peace on August 11 in Los Gatos, California. He was 77.
The second of six siblings, Fr. Jones was born on March 30, 1939, in Missoula, Montana, to John C. and Viona (Henley) Jones. He grew up across the street from and attended the Catholic elementary and high school attached to the parish of St. Francis Xavier. He graduated from Loyola High School in 1957, and entered the Jesuit Novitiate in Sheridan, Oregon, that same summer. He followed the regular course of Jesuit formation studies and teaching experiences and was ordained a priest June 13, 1970, in Spokane.
The opportunities and changes in the Church and world after Vatican II had a profound impact on Fr. Jones; although he was a talented athlete and effective leader who found inspiration from his Jesuit teachers and pastors, Fr. Jones believed that the Church and Society of Jesus needed to be immersed in the lives of the poor and marginalized. Following a few years of working at St. Joseph’s Church in Seattle and at Jesuit High School in Portland, he was given permission to “pitch his tent” among the poor and homeless and powerless of the Pacific Northwest, a ministry that lasted more than 30 years.
Fr. Jones lived in and worked with the various L’Arche communities, helped to build houses, led spiritual retreats, wandered the roads and streets of cities and towns, and was a priest-friend to the Native peoples of many areas. Sharing food, coffee, scripture, and everyday concerns was a staple of his life, Fr. Jones was an active listener who moved conversation on many topics toward the love of God for all people.
Declining physical health necessitated his move to the Jesuit assisted-living center in Spokane 2010 and more recently to the Jesuit infirmary at the Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos, California.
Fr. Jones is survived by his sisters Geraldine Hernbrode, Alicia Young (Ross), Amedee Marx (Emmett), and Susie Corbett (Bill), and his brother Jim. Fr. Jones was preceded in death by his younger sister Jeannene Jones. There are several surviving nieces, nephews, and cousins, as well. He will be deeply missed by his many friends, colleagues, and brother Jesuits of the Oregon Province.