It is with great sadness, but hope in our Risen Lord, that the Diocese of Grand Rapids shares the news of the death of Most Reverend Robert J. Rose, bishop emeritus of the Diocese of Grand Rapids, at the age of 92. The Lord called him home on March 2, 2022, Ash Wednesday.

Obituary for Most Reverend Robert J. Rose

Funeral Arrangements

Bishop Walkowiak’s statement follows (Español):

Today, on Ash Wednesday, the Diocese of Grand Rapids has lost a man who dedicated his life to the Catholic faith. Bishop Robert Rose served the Church in the state of Michigan for more than 65 years.
In each office – relying upon the grace of Holy Orders, a Spirit-filled wisdom, a compassionate heart and a delightful wit, he placed it all at the service of the Lord who anointed him for this vocation.
During his episcopacy, Bishop Rose established many ministries that continue today with a particular emphasis on social justice and education. He established The Catholic Foundation of West Michigan, the Secretariat for Social Justice (now Catholic Charities West Michigan), the Bishop’s Fund for Catholic Education, reorganized parish pastoral councils, and fostered diocesan support in ecumenical activities. He valued the voice of the laity and ensured they were part of the decision-making process. He brought kindness to every interaction and empowered Catholics to share their faith.
Please join me in offering prayers for his eternal rest and comfort to Bishop Rose’s family. We assure them of our prayers and thank God for Bishop Rose’s life and years of dedication to the Diocese of Grand Rapids.
As we remember his profound impact on this diocese, we take heed of his episcopal motto and together we go forth as a Christian people, ‘In the Name of the Lord!'”

Read/Print Bishop Walkowiak’s Statement (English | Español)
Read a statement from Bishop Emeritus Walter Hurley
Greg Deja, executive director of the Catholic Foundation of West Michigan shared the following, “I am deeply grateful for Bishop Rose and honored to steward his legacy with the Catholic Foundation. His vision of joyful stewardship inspired many to share their blessings in gratitude and with clear purpose to build God’s kingdom.”
Read a reflection from Paul A. Long, president of the Michigan Catholic Conference.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Urban H. and Maida A. (Glerum) Rose; his siblings, Mrs. Everett (June) Wittenbach and Mr. James Rose. He is survived by several nieces and nephews and their families.

Memorial contributions can be made to the Catholic Foundation of West Michigan for either the Bishop’s Fund for Catholic Education or the Diocesan Jubilee Justice Fund.

Key Dates:

Born into earthly life:
February 28, 1930

Ordained a priest:
December 21, 1955

Episcopal Ordination:
December 6, 1981

Installed as the second bishop of Gaylord:
December 6, 1981

Installed as the ninth bishop of Grand Rapids:
August 30, 1989

Bishop Emeritus of Grand Rapids (Retired):
October 13, 2003

Born into eternal life:
March 2, 2022

Key Accomplishments as Bishop of Grand Rapids:

  • Held the first diocesan Pastoral Assembly in 1995, which identified five specific diocesan goals that focused on family, vocation and justice
  • Launched the successful “In the Name of the Lord” capital campaign, which raised more than $24 million to establish the Bishop’s Fund for Catholic Education, the restoration of the Cathedral of Saint Andrew and the remodeling of Saint Henry Spirituality and Ministry Center
  • Established The Catholic Foundation of West Michigan, which today manages assets worth more than $108 million
  • Reorganized and incorporated the Secretariat for Social Justice (now Catholic Charities West Michigan)
  • Regionalized Hispanic Ministry in the diocese
  • Developed lay leadership programs for both English and Hispanic parishioners
  • Established the Diocesan Pastoral Council and reorganized parish pastoral councils
  • Fostered diocesan support in ecumenical and civic activities, including the “Institute on the Healing of Racism,” the Grand Rapids “Summit on Racism” and the Greater Grand Rapids Community Marriage Policy.

Learn more about Bishop Rose (Biography | Curriculum Vitae | Personal Coat of Arms | A piano teacher and a holy card strike a chord that leads to priesthood for Bishop Robert Rose (FAITH Grand Rapids magazine))