The Rev. Robert William Hopwood, C.Ss.R., a Redemptorist priest and a native of Oil City, died June 24, 2010, at the Stella Maris in Timonium, Md. Father Hopwood was a son of the late John A. and Eldelene Schoonover Hopwood, both of Oil City, Pa., He was one of 11 children.
Father Hopwood's home parish is St. Stephen's Church of Oil City, and it was there his early interest in entering the priesthood was nurtured. In 1940, when he was 15, he entered St. Mary's Redemptorist Seminary, in North East. He entered the major seminary of the Redemptorist Order at Mount St. Alphonsus Seminary in Esopus, N.Y., on August 27, 1947. He was ordained to the priesthood by Francis Cardinal Spellman of the Archdiocese of New York on June 22, 1952.
Father Hopwood had prepared to serve in the Redemptorist mission field and following his ordination he received an assignment to go to Paraguay, South America, in 1954 where he remained for 54 years until his forced retirement because of ill health in 2008. Father Hopwood served in both the rural areas of Paraguay and the inner city parishes of Asuncion, Paraguay, and a Chaplain of the English-speaking Catholics in Paraguay until his retirement due to ill health. In 1983, he was named by the National Conference of Paraguayan Bishops to be National Secretary for Ecumenism.
In 1990, he was appointed to take charge of Charity Hospital Capellanes del Chaco of the Redemptorist Fathers in Paraguay which he administered until his retirement. In conjunction with that responsibility he utilized his expertise from his years of direct work with the people to found several cooperatives to give work and sustenance to the poor and needy, which he continued until his retirement. He was a familiar figure upon his vacations in the United States, both to Our Lady Help of Christians, St. Stephens and St. Joseph in Oil city and most recently St. Patrick Church in Franklin.
Father Hopwood is survived by his brothers, James Hopwood and Paul Hopwood, of California, Donald Hopwood, of Warren, Pa., Richard Hopwood, of Erie, and John Hopwood, of Reelsville, Ind.; and a sister, Marihelen Hopwood Egan, of Franklin, Pa. He was preceded in death by one sister, Rita Hopwood York, of Rouseville, Pa.; and three brothers, Arthur "Bus" Hopwood, of Oil City, William Hopwood, of Winter Park, Fla., and Ronald Eugene Hopwood of Crown, Pa.
A funeral mass will be conducted July 3rd at Stella Maris, Timonium, Md. Then a viewing will be July 5th at St. Gregory's Church on S. Pearl St., North East, Pa., from 5 to 7 p.m. followed by a Wake. A funeral mass will also be held at St. Gregory's Church on July 6th at 11:00 a.m. Burial will follow at St. Gregory's Cemetery with the Redemptorist Fathers.
Memorials may be made to the Redemptorist Fathers at 7509 Shore Road, Brooklyn, New York, 11209, or to St. Patrick School or St. Patrick School Mission Club, both at 949 Liberty Street, Franklin Pa., or to a charity of one's choice.
Before his death, Father Hopwood requested that thanks be given to those generous souls who over the years have contributed to his many projects in his efforts to relieve the sufferings of so many of God's less blessed but most worthy children.
Arrangements were handled by William D. Elkin Funeral Home, 65 S. Lake St. North East.