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Article updated: 3/26/2013 6:30 PM

Longtime religious leader dies from brain cancer

By James Fuller

Monsignor Robert Hoffman touched the lives of many people throughout the suburbs during a tenure in the church that saw him serve from DeKalb and Rockford to Aurora and St. Charles.

In the memorials written in online guest books it seems clear his most lasting impact came in ministering to various grade levels of students.

"I became strong in faith from his profound words for us as students at NIU," reads an entry by Jim and Kathy Martin from Batavia. "The Holy Spirit was burning in his presence that could be felt from the goose bumps upon my arms."

Hoffman died March 23 at home following a battle with brain cancer.

The Rev. Hoffman's career in the church began at St. Peter Parish in Spring Grove. After a year there he moved to St. Catherine Parish in Dundee. He then served at St. Joseph Parish in Aurora and as a religion teacher at Madonna High School.

"I still remember from a religion class that you taught at Madonna, an article you passed out for us to read called, 'The Loneliness of a Long-Lasting Marriage,'" wrote Barb Bednard Farrell, Madonna class of 1966, in a memorial. "Just wanted you to know my husband and I have celebrated our 42nd anniversary. So your teaching worked!"

Hoffman then became a member of the faculty at Aurora Central Catholic High School, co-pastor at Sacred Heart parish in Aurora and later moved to Christ the Teacher parish in DeKalb where he also served as the director of campus ministry for the Diocese of Rockford.

"I was fortunate to have known him in the 1970s as pastor of the Newman Center in DeKalb," wrote Carol Luoma of St. Charles in a memorial. "His words could connect with students. He could connect via homilies for any audience. Thanks for sharing and dedicating your life to helping us lead fuller, balanced lives -- the intellectual, the physical, the social and, most importantly, the spiritual."

Hoffman completed his career as pastor of St. John Neumann Parish in St. Charles. It was there he was named a Prelate of Honor by Pope John Paul II in 1998. The title is a method of honoring a priest. There are only three levels of monsignors in the church. The Prelate of Honor is the second-most prestigious honor. With the honor comes the ability to wear garb similar to bishops at liturgical events.

Visitation and a wake service for Hoffman was Tuesday at St. John Neumann in St. Charles. The wake service will be repeated at 10 a.m. today and a funeral Mass will follow at 11 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be sent to Christ the Teacher Parish in DeKalb, 512 Norman Road, DeKalb, 60115; or Hope for Haitians, P.O. Box 5647 Rockford, 60125.

For more information, visit yursfuneralhomes.com.

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