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Robert Adams

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. Monsignor Robert G. Adams Resident of Livermore Monsignor Robert G. Adams, the well-known and widely loved former pastor of St. Michael Parish in Livermore, died Saturday, January 16, 2010 in Oakland, at the age of 90. The Reverend Monsignor, who received that honorary title from Pope Paul VI in 1975 after his first 30 years of priestly service, was commonly and affectionately known as "Father Adams," a simple and traditional moniker that bespeaks the humility, humor, holiness and hard work with which he strove to be a true priest, another Christ. Typical of his devotion and exertion, while he "retired from active ministry" at St. Michael in 1995, he remained a regular fixture at daily and Sunday masses until the middle of 2009, when ill health forced him to relocate to Mercy Retirement Center for priests in Oakland. He wanted to die at the altar, performing his chief duty. He almost did. This Welsh son of the late William and Mary Adams was born in San Rafael on the feast of his beloved St. Francis, October 4, 1919. Brother of the late Clifford, Edmund, Audrey, William and Kenneth Adams, he grew up in San Anselmo and attended St. Anselm's Elementary School. Recognizing a priestly calling at a young age, he attended St. Joseph's College Seminary and St. Patrick's Seminary in Menlo Park. He was a hardy and athletic young man, a lover of baseball (especially the Giants when they came to town), who played catcher on the local San Anselmo semi-pro team, in summer stints away from the seminary. In later priestly years, many Livermore parishioners, young and old, would smile and cringe when he approached and playfully plied his powerful grip on innocent shoulders and forearms, as a sign of affection. Putting pro dreams aside, he was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of San Francisco by Archbishop John Mitty at St. Mary's Cathedral, San Francisco, on June 16, 1945. Prior to being named pastor of St. Michael Parish in 1964, he served God's people in the following appointments: St. Agnes Church in San Francisco; St. Theresa Church in Oakland; Instructor at Holy Names High School in Oakland; Chaplain of Providence Hospital and Instructor at Providence College of Nursing in Oakland; St. Cyril Church in Oakland; Pastor of St. Columba Church in Oakland. He also was licensed by the State of California as a Marriage, Family and Child Counselor in 1970. More than 64 years a priest in all, "Padre" Adams served 31 years as Pastor of St. Michael Church in Livermore. During his tenure, he nurtured all segments of an ethnically diverse community, promoted lay ownership and participation, cherished St. Michael School, and handed on a large and thriving faith community to his successors. He balanced tradition and change as he guided the parish through the transitions attending Vatican Council II. He presided over the parish centennial celebration in 1978. He was proud of receiving the title of Monsignor in 1975, due to the honor it brought his parish. A dry wit, known for his self-effacing humor and deadpan delivery, Father Adams brought good cheer even as he preached and exemplified the serious quest for Christian holiness. With eyes fixed on Jesus, the divine and human model, he recognized the human impossibility of being everything 10,000 parishioners expect of a modern pastor: set apart for God, yet human and accessible to his flock; tireless as an administrator, teacher and even handyman, yet contemplative, a man of prayer; rich in wisdom, counsel and leadership, yet meek, with an attitude of service. Knowing and laughing at his own limitations and frailties, he nevertheless strove precisely for perfection, according to Jesus' words, which he preached: "Be perfected, even as your heavenly Father is perfect." He promoted ideals, while freely offering Christ's forgiveness in the confessional on a regular schedule, plus professional counseling in his office. He honed and enriched his preaching through hours of theological reading and reflection, and had a meticulously organized work bench in the rectory basement, where he loved fixing things. Mostly unseen, he kept his priestly promise of daily prayer with and for the Church, and he also kept his weekly Wednesday morning golf date with 3 or 4 buddies. By means of frequent retreats to his Sierra cabin, he recharged and reconnected with God on strenuous mountain hikes. He believed in old-fashioned physical and spiritual exertion, not to deserve grace and mercy, which is impossible, but, like an athlete, to train for the imitation of Jesus, and thus to enjoy Jesus' hard-won victory of grace and mercy. Thus, even as he worked without ceasing to the end, he relied on the Holy Spirit to-like St. Paul-transform him in the image of Christ, so he could share in his priestly mission: winning souls for the Kingdom of Heaven. Those who know him and share his faith entrust him now placidly to the merciful Savior he followed. A Visitation will be held Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 6:00pm, Vigil at 7:00pm at St. Michael Church, 458 Maple Street, Livermore , California. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Michael Church on Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 11:00am. Donations in lieu of flowers may be sent care of St. Michael Church to the Monsignor Robert Adams Scholarship Fund at St. Michael School. Callaghan Mortuary (925) 447-2942

Published in Contra Costa Times on Jan. 20, 2010
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