RIP Father Robert Doane Pelton - Death of Madonna House Priest and Former Executive Member of the Fellowship - Obituary

Father Robert Doane Pelton
Father Robert Pelton, priest of Madonna House Apostolate and of the Diocese of
Pembroke, died at St. Francis Memorial Hospital, Barry’s Bay, ON, on October 16,
2020. Fr. Pelton was a longtime member of the Catholic Fellowship of Scholars Canada. He also became an executive board member. 
Father Bob, son of Mark D. Pelton and Margaret McKay Pelton Rieth, was born in
Cleveland, OH, October 1, 1935. He attended elementary and secondary schools
in the Cleveland area, and then graduated from Yale University, New Haven, CT,
magna cum laude in 1957.
During the college spring break in 1956, he visited a friend who had become a
member of Madonna House Apostolate in Combermere and was there received
into the Catholic Church at Easter. He returned to Madonna House after his
graduation from Yale and entered St. Jerome’s College Seminary in Kitchener, ON,
in 1958, continuing on to St. Mary’s Seminary and University School of Theology
in Baltimore, MD.
On May 31, 1963, he was ordained to the priesthood in the Canadian Martyrs
Church in Combermere, ON, the first of the laymen of Madonna House to be
ordained priest. After a brief time of serving in the parishes of the Diocese of
Pembroke, he continued his study of moral theology in Rome and Islamic studies
at McGill University, Montreal. In 1971 he pursued studies in the History of
Religions at the University of Chicago Divinity School completing his Master’s
degree in 1971 and his Ph.D. in 1974. His doctoral thesis, The Trickster in West
Africa: A Study of Mythic Irony and Sacred Delight, was published by University of
California Press in 1980. He returned to the University of Chicago in the spring of
1976 to teach courses on West African religion and the meaning and practice of
From 1975 to 1984, he was able to embrace more fully living a life of prayer
through his life in poustinia, a Russian style of hermitage, while still available for
lectures, courses, and spiritual direction. A series of articles on the liturgical year
written for Restoration, a Madonna House publication, was edited and published
as Circling the Sun: Meditations on Christ in Liturgy and Time by Pastoral Press,
Washington, D.C.
In 1984, his brother priests of Madonna House chose him to succeed the
deceased priest-founder of Madonna House, Fr. John Callahan, as Director
General of the Priests of Madonna House. He embraced this particular service,
along with his co-directors Jean Fox, Jim Guinan, Albert Osterberger until 2004.
In 2016, he moved from his poustinia to St. Mary’s, and eventually to Our Lady of
the Visitation in St. Mary’s.
He was predeceased by his parents and is survived by his brother, Richard Pelton
and nephew Richard.
A public viewing of the body will be held at Heuber Funeral Home in Barry’s Bay
according to the present protocols on Wednesday, October 22 from 2 to 4 p.m.
and 7 to 9 p.m. The wake service and funeral will be held privately for members
of the community on Thursday and Friday at Madonna House.
Madonna House community would like to express their gratitude for Dr. Ray
Dawes for his attentive care for Father Pelton, particularly in the last years, and to
the Bayshore nurses and to all those who helped care for him in Our Lady of the
Biography submitted by Madonna House to the Fellowship