Kindhearted Divine Word brother dies in peace

Brother Robert Zalikowski, 1939-2013

Zalikowski,_Brother_Bob_by_Ben_Le_SVD_for_webDivine Word Brother Robert "Bob" Zalikowski, SVD, 73, passed away at Techny on Sunday, Sept. 8, after serving the Catholic Church as a missionary for 52 years.

Father James Braband, SVD, who presided and preached at Brother Bob’s funeral Mass, noted that he was called to eternal life on the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the 138th anniversary of the founding of the Society of the Divine Word. "It was a fitting day because to Bob, being a Divine Word brother was the greatest calling he could have," Father Braband said. "I never saw him display anger, bitterness or self-pity. He may have never baptized anyone, but he anointed many souls with his humility, kindness, good cheer and willingness to help anyone at any time."

Bob Zalikowski was born to Anna (nee Skotarczak) and Frank Zalikowski in Buffalo, N.Y, in 1939. As a youth, he studied at Divine Word Seminary in Conesus, N.Y. After professing perpetual vows in 1967, he remained at Conesus for his first assignment. Three years later, he was appointed to Miramar in Duxbury, Mass., to take care of the building and the grounds.

From 1973 to 1986, Brother Bob worked in maintenance and food service at the Divine Word Seminary at Bordentown, N.J. For nine years, he was assigned to the Divine Word community in Washington, D.C., where he served as assistant office manager, a reading tutor at Sacred Heart Adult Education Center and vice rector.

In 1997, the Society of the Divine Word sent him to the U.S. Western Province where he worked at the Divine Word Retreat Center in Riverside, Calif. He later lived in the Divine Word community at Bordentown until retiring to Techny in 2006.

"Bob was born with cerebral palsy, but he never let the ailment define or stop him," said Brother Mike Decker, SVD, director of Brother Formation for the Society of the Divine Word-Chicago Province. "Although many of today’s religious brothers engage in a wide variety of educational, counseling, social and pastoral ministries, Bob carried on the tradition of the earlier Divine Word Missionary brothers who served the community and the faithful through skilled labor as a tradesman."

Noted Catholic author Alfred McBride paid tribute to Brother Bob’s gift for hospitality in his book, "The Second Coming of Jesus: Meditation and Commentary on the Book of Revelation" (Our Sunday Visitor: 1993).

Brother Bob’s wake and funeral took place in the Divine Word Residence chapel at Techny on Sept. 11 and 12, respectively. He is buried at St. Mary’s Cemetery, Techny.

He is survived by two siblings, Ken (Nancy) Zalikowski and Christine (Dave) Harbaugh.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations for the care of retired missionaries may be sent to The Rector, Divine Word Residence, 1901 Waukegan Road, P.O. Box 6000, Techny, IL 60082-6000.

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