The funeral Mass for Jesuit Father Robert J. Welsh will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Sept. 5 at Church of the Gesu in University Heights.
Father Welsh, 82, died on Aug. 30 at Colombiere Center in Clarkston, Michigan. He was a founder and longtime president of Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland.
The wake for Father Welsh will be take place 3-9 p.m. Sept. 4 in St. Mary of the Assumption Chapel on the Saint Ignatius campus.
He was born June 6, 1936 in Cleveland and graduated from Saint Ignatius High School in 1954, entering the Jesuit order immediately after graduation. After entering the Society, Father earned his bachelor’s (1959) and master’s degrees in history (1965) and theology (1968) from Loyola University Chicago. He earned a Licentiate in Philosophy from West Baden College in West Baden, Indiana (1961) and a Licentiate in Sacred Theology from Bellarmine School of Theology in North Aurora, Illinois (1968).
In 1967, he was ordained a priest. The following year, he returned to Saint Ignatius to teach theology and to serve as director of student spiritual counseling. He left for one year while he did tertianship at St. Beuno’s College in St. Asaph in North Wales, United Kingdom.
In 1973, Father Welsh returned to Saint Ignatius again and worked in the student counseling and religious formation departments. In 1974, he became development director, introducing innovative fundraising techniques and conducting the school’s first capital campaign, allowing Saint Ignatius to remain the city of Cleveland. He also established the first Annual Fund to help students in need because he wanted to ensure that a Saint Ignatius education was available to all boys, regardless of their family’sincome.
Father Welsh became president of Saint Ignatius in 1979 and led the school until 2000. He believed a Catholic education included service to others and during his tenure, Sophomore Service and the Arrupe Neighborhood Partnership were launched.
In 1999, Father Welsh was named a Founder of the school — which opened in 1886 — in recognition of his commitment to Catholic education and his insistence that Saint Ignatius High School be an instrument in the apostolate of the Society of Jesus to bring Christ’s light to the world.
“Father Welsh’s legacy is immeasurable,” said Father Raymond P. Guiao, SJ Saint Ignatius High School president. “His charismatic way of involving everyone in the mission of the school has inspired all of us to better understand the importance of loving and serving Christ. He will truly be missed.”
Burial will be in All Saints Cemetery, Northfield, immediately after the funeral Mass.