Robert Cormier, an adventurous Catholic priest from New Jersey, is mourned by his congregation this week. The beloved pastor of St. Patrick and Assumption/All Saints parish died on Tuesday morning after a climbing accident atop Mount Hood, the highest peak in Oregon, reports CBS 2. He was 57 years old.
Cormier ascended the south side of Mount Hood with two climbing partners, continuing on after one of them turned back due to a leg cramp, reports the Associated Press. After reaching the summit, he stood on a shelf of snow which abruptly gave way, according to Sgt. Pete Hughes of the Hood River County Sheriff's office. It's estimated that he fell about 1,000 feet from the 11,240-foot peak.
Known as "Father Bob" to his congregation, Cormier had celebrated a First Communion Mass the weekend before his accident, reports CBS 2. He was fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, and had written three books.
His friend, retired pastor Rev. Eugene Squeo, told CBS 2 that Cormier had a series of mountains that he wanted to climb. "Mt. Hood was the last. This was to be his last climb," said Squeo.
Due to warm weather conditions and fears of an avalanche, recovery of his body has not yet commenced. A mass in his memory will be held on Sunday.
He was a priest in Newark, New Jersey, at the St. Rose of Lima parish for 17 years. His congregation is mourning him on the Newark Archdiocese's Facebook page.
"He was such a vibrant priest. Our family was blessed with a powerful spiritual journey in a short time we got to know him here in Jersey City," said Brenda Santana. "Rest in peace Father Bob. Eternal rest grant to him. Amen."