March 29, 2019

Deacon Frank Roberts was ‘all about service to other people’

By Sean Gallagher

Deacon Frank RobertsDeacon Frank Roberts, who ministered at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Richmond, died on March 19 at Reid Health in the eastern Indiana city. He was 79.

The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on March 25 at St. Andrew Church in Richmond. Archbishop Charles C. Thompson was the principal celebrant. Deacon Michael Slinger was the homilist. Burial followed at St. Andrew Cemetery in Richmond.

A member of the second class of permanent deacons in the history of the archdiocese, Deacon Roberts was ordained by Bishop Christopher J. Coyne on June 23, 2012, at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis.

In a profile of Deacon Roberts published in The Criterion two weeks before his ordination, he said there was “an unrelenting urge in my soul to pursue this calling. I know that God has a plan for me.”

Father Todd Riebe knew Deacon Roberts during his many years as pastor of the three parishes of the Richmond Catholic Community, which were merged together in 2016 as one parish, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.

“Deacon Frank was a true Christian gentleman and a man of the Church,” said Father Riebe, now pastor of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis. “He loved the Church, and the Church was always at the center of his life.”

Before retiring, Deacon Roberts worked as a banker. His put his knowledge and experience in his career to the service of the Church by volunteering for several years as chairperson of the finance committee of the former St. Andrew Parish in Richmond.

“Frank would prepare the budget and he would present it to me saying, ‘Father, this is a faith-based budget,’ ” Father Riebe recalled. “He trusted that God would provide and, year after year, God responded to Frank’s faith and the needs of the parish were met, sometimes in miraculous ways.”

Father Riebe was pastor in Richmond during the years in which Deacon Roberts participated in the archdiocesan deacon formation program.

“The diaconate gave Frank the opportunity to use so many of his gifts and to offer his life in an even greater way to the Church,” Father Riebe said. “The parishes in Richmond benefitted not only from Deacon Frank’s ministry, but also from the quiet, steadfast support of [his wife] Joyce, who was the wind beneath Frank’s wings.”

Deacon Michael East, archdiocesan director of deacons, said that Deacon Roberts embodied well the particular vocation of the diaconate.

“He was a deacon’s deacon,” said Deacon East. “He was all about service to other people. And he lived it. It was not about him or any pomp or any of that stuff. It was all about service. He loved being a deacon.”

Deacon James Miller said his friend was “in love with God more than anybody I know.”

“He just loved sharing his love of God with others,” said Deacon Miller, who also serves St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Richmond.

Deacon Roberts often shared that love with residents of the 11 nursing homes in Richmond. This wasn’t enough for him, though, said Deacon Miller.

“He still took Communion to several different nursing homes during the week, just to be present to the people,” Deacon Miller said.

Deacon Roberts, he said, also shared the love of God with others through his involvement with and promotion of eucharistic adoration, which happens at St. Elizabeth

on Thursdays starting after its 8:30 a.m. Mass and ending with Benediction at 5:30 p.m.

Deacon Miller said his friend often exposed the Blessed Sacrament, would spend time afterward in adoration and later in the day preside over Benediction.

“I don’t think we’ll ever have adoration when you go in and sit down that you won’t think of Deacon Frank being there,” Deacon Miller said. “He talked often about it when we were in groups with different people, about how much joy and peace it brings.”

Frank Anthony Roberts was born on Dec. 17, 1939, in Richmond to Harold and Hilda (Haager) Roberts and grew up as a member of the former St. Andrew Parish in Richmond.

A veteran of the U.S. Army, Deacon Roberts was a graduate of the Earlham Institute of Executive Growth in Richmond and attended banking schools of Oklahoma University and the University of

Virginia. He worked in Richmond for Second National Bank and retired as a vice president of First Bank Richmond.

Deacon Roberts was a member of the Knights of St. John. He and his wife of 60 years Joyce, who survives, enjoyed camping, making rosaries and square dancing, which they taught for 26 years.

Deacon Roberts is also survived by his half-brother Larry Bergfield.

Memorial contributions may be sent to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, 240 S. 6th St., Richmond, IN 47374. †

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