Fr. Bob Supportive Housing Hero

Project Live President Dedicated Life to
Ensuring that Everyone Had a Place to Call Home

Fr. Bob CormierReading the news yesterday about the apparent death of Rev. Robert J. Cormier, the president of Project Live, I could not believe the words on the page.

According to the report, Fr. Bob “fell to his death on Mount Hood in Oregon. Fr. Cormier fell from the summit’s north side about 8 a.m. when a snow cornice collapsed beneath him, said Hood River County Sheriff Matt English. A climber not in his group saw Cormier fall and called 911.”

Fr. Bob, 57, grew up in Cranford and attended St. Michael’s Parish and School. He was not only a priest, for 25 years, but an author, teacher, advocate, leader and a hero. He would have denied the accolades especially being called a hero.

But he was in fact a hero. He believed in a simple principle: that everyone deserved a place to call home.

Fr. Bob in Better Than We Believed: How to Apply the Vision That is Faith to the Struggle That is Life, wrote about his understanding of faith. He explained that “Faith is not about believing in what we cannot see; faith is about seeing!”

And what he saw was a world in which too many of his neighbors lived on the streets or in institutions. Thus, as the President of Project Live he worked tirelessly to lead the organization to become not only the largest supportive housing provider in Newark and Essex County but also one of the best in the state. Staff of the agency would walk the streets seeking out the homeless not only to provide help and hope but also to offer them what they needed most of all  – a place to call home.

Walking into work yesterday I watched the students entering St. Michael’s and wondered who among them might be the next Fr. Bob.

Then it dawned on me that Fr. Bob would not want us to wait for someone to replace him.  He would accept that we would want us to mourn his death, but he would want us to celebrate his life by re-committing ourselves to not only love our neighbors but to work everyday to ensure that everyone has a place to call home.

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