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.
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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 https://burkefamilyfuneralhomes.com/