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Robert Heyer

Robert James Heyer

Tuesday, April 26th, 1932 - Monday, January 13th, 2020
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Robert James Heyer, 87, passed away on January 13, 2020. A mass of Christian burial will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, January 18 at St. Ignatius Parish, Chestnut Hill, MA; a memorial mass will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, February 28 at Visitation Parish, Kansas City, MO (private interment at Mt. Olivet Cemetery). In lieu of flowers the family suggests memorial contributions to Bread for the World, 425 3rd Street SW, Suite 1200, Washington, DC 20024.

Robert was born April 26, 1932 in Jersey City, NJ to Joseph and Mildred Heyer. A graduate of Fordham University and Woodstock School of Theology, with additional studies at Columbia Teacher’s College, he spent 20 years as a Jesuit of the New York Province, teaching theology, Latin and English at Fordham Preparatory School and Regis High School. He also directed the Higher Achievement Program at Regis and at Brooklyn Prep. From 1971-1984, Robert served as a senior editor for Paulist Press. There he developed the Renew program, served as managing editor for New Catholic World and acquired nearly 400 books. During his time there he also co-founded, with his wife, Jean Marie Hiesberger, the vibrant Community for Bread and Justice, which endures to this day.

From 1984-1997 he served as publisher of Sheed & Ward in Kansas City, Missouri, restoring it as the book division for National Catholic Reporter. There he reprinted from its backlist of classics and published many new titles by leading Catholic authors. In 2002 he received the Catholic Book Publishers Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, in recognition of “more than three decades of creative leadership and service to Catholic adult faith formation and publishing,” highlighting his “inspirational tenacity to giving voice to those whose ideas have made a tangible difference within the ministering Church in the modern world.” Several of the books he acquired and edited over the course of his career earned national recognition, and the journal he published received multiple awards from the Catholic Press Association. His own publications include The Aware Person in Today’s Church, Am I a Racist?, the ten-volume Discovery series, Let Us Pray, Women and Orders, and Nuclear Disarmament. Throughout his time on both the East Coast and in the Midwest, he volunteered his time working with Catholic dioceses and community organizing groups. He was an active member of Visitation Parish in Kansas City and spent his final years at Bishop Spencer Place.

Robert is survived by his daughter, Kristin Heyer and husband Mark Potter; grandsons, Owen and Luke Potter; and sibling, Patricia Gallagher. He was preceded in death by his parents, wife, Jean Marie Hiesberger, brother, Joseph Heyer, sister-in-law, Jeanne Heyer, and brother-in-law, Jack Gallagher. Condolences may be expressed at
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Service Details

  • Service

    Saturday, January 18th, 2020 | 10:00am
    Saturday, January 18th, 2020 10:00am
    St. Ignatius of Loyola
    28 Commonwealth Avenue
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    In addition: A Memorial Mass will be celebrated Friday, February 28, 2020 at 10AM in Visitation Church, 5141 Main St. Kansas City, MO 64112


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Plant a Tree in Memory of Robert
3 trees have been planted in memory of Robert James Heyer

Jim Keane

Posted at 05:35pm
For Kristin and Mark and their family.
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A memorial tree was planted in the memory of Robert Heyer — Plant a Tree Now

Ryan Callahan

Posted at 11:50am
Kristin, Mark, Owen and Luke,
We were so sorry to hear about Robert. Kristin, I see many parallels in your lives and your work. I'm sure he was very proud of you both in career and in marriage and motherhood.

We are thinking of you,
Ryan, Carrie and Jack

Claire Bridget & Ed Donovan

Posted at 11:01am
Our warmest condolences, May your memories be that of his devotion and giving life that certainly is an example for all!
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A memorial tree was planted in the memory of Robert Heyer — Plant a Tree Now

Elizabeth Cawley, CSJ, and J&P Advisory Board

Posted at 11:01am
Heartfelt sympathy at the loss of your father, father-in-law, grandfather.
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A memorial tree was planted in the memory of Robert Heyer — Plant a Tree Now

Bruce Nieli

Posted at 06:19pm
It was joy working with Bob on RENEW during the early 1980’s! I also consulted extensively his “Discovery in Song!” May he rest in the arms of Jesus! —Fr. Bruce Nieli, C.S.P.

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