The Rev. Robert J. Cormier, a Jersey City priest known for his multi-cultural ministry in Hudson County and beyond, was reported having fallen to his death during a climb up Mount Hood in Oregon on May 13.
The 57-year old priest, who was ordained in 1982, spent a significant time in Hudson County, where he was celebrated for his efforts to bring diverse communities together.
He reportedly fell from the summit on the north side of Mount Hood about 8 a.m. on May 13, which was reported by a climber not in his group.
Church officials said authorities were not expected to recover the body for a few days, at which time arrangements for his funeral would be made.
Cormier, who was climbing with two companions, sometimes connected his hobby with some of his sermons – and these, according to some parishioners, were among his most memorable.
His group attempted to climb the south side of the mountain, and when one of the others was forced to halt because of a leg cramp, Cormier continued on. He was seen falling when the others reached the top, and fell about 700 feet.
Cormier has been at St. Patrick’s, Assumption and All Saints Church in the Greenville section of Jersey City for about two years as a vicar. In February, he became the administer of the parish.
He was also at St. Nicholas Parish in Jersey City Heights for a while.
“He spent a lot of time in Hudson County since he was ordained in 1982,” said Jim Goodness, spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Newark.
Although assigned to St. Patrick’s at the time of his death, Cormier – according to Goodness – had worked in several other parishes inside and outside the county, including parishes in Hackensack.
“He was a very much loved priest,” Goodness said, noting that there was an outpouring of remembrances on the archdiocese Facebook page. “He was a great part of many of their lives and a key element. Father Cormier was always very interested in people encountering Christ on a personal level.”
Because his current assignment at St. Patrick’s put him in a community that crossed a number of racial and ethnic lines, covering a good portion of Greenville and segments of County Village and south western parts of Jersey City near 440, and even some residents of Bayonne.
“He was very much into Hispanic ministry and culture,” Goodness said. “His parish had a Hispanic, Haitian and African-American population. Many of the things he did were in an effort to bring those diverse things together, one God in Christ, all in the same family.”
Goodness said that the death has saddened the community and that the archdiocese will make plans once the priest’s body is recovered.
“It is in the hands of professionals now, we trust them and hope they will recover him soon,” Goodness said.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.