Aug. 30, 2013
Ogdensburg – A Mass of Christian Burial for Msgr. Robert L. Lawler, 83, will be held Tuesday, Sept. 3, at 2 p.m. at St. Mary’s Cathedral with Bishop Terry R. LaValley presiding and priests of the diocese concelebrating.
Bishop Robert J. Cunningham will serve as the homilist.
Msgr. Lawler died Aug. 29 at St. Joseph’s Home. Burial will be in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Waddington.
Calling hours will begin Sunday at St. Mary’s, Waddington, from 6 p.m. to 8.
Msgr. Lawler was born in Oneonta, NY, Nov. 8, 1930, son of the late John and Florence Rose Lawler. After graduating from Oneonta High School, he attended Holy Cross College in Massachusetts for a year and then entered Wadhams Hall Seminary in 1949.
He completed his theological studies at Theological College in Washington, D.C. and was ordained at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Ogdensburg on May 19, 1956 by Bishop Walter P. Kellenberg.
Msgr. Lawler’s first assignment was as assistant pastor at Holy Family, Watertown, when he was also appointed assistant secretary of Catholic Charities.
In 1957, he became executive secretary of Catholic Charities in Ogdensburg and worked with St. Joseph’s Home.
After 30 years of service with Catholic Charities, Msgr. Lawler retired and was appointed pastor of Brownville and Dexter in 1986.
During his tenure with Catholic Charities, he served as diocesan coordinator of the Campaign for Human Development, Catholic Relief Services and health affairs. He was also appointed to numerous local and state organizations serving mental health and social welfare needs.
Msgr. Lawler was also honored in 1986 with the Catholic Charities Caritas Award, given annually to an individual who exemplifies a spirit of love and charity.
In 1989, Msgr. Lawler was appointed chairman of the Diocesan Planning Committee, and pastor in Canton in 1995.
In 1994 he was appointed vicar general for the diocese and a year later became pastor of St. Mary’s, Canton. In 1996 he became pastor of St. Mary’s, Waddington with additional responsibilities as pastor for St. John the Baptist in Madrid in 2002.
Msgr. Lawler was named a Protonotary Apostolic June 17, 1995 the highest honor that can be given to a monsignor.
In 1999, after Bishop Loverde was named bishop of the Diocese of Arlington, Msgr. Lawler was elected diocesan administrator until Bishop Barbarito was appointed Bishop of Ogdensburg. He was reappointed vicar general in 2000.
Msgr. Lawler was once again elected diocesan administrator in 2003 when Bishop Barbarito was appointed Bishop of Palm Beach, Fla.
With the arrival of Bishop Cunningham in 2004, Msgr. Lawler was again named vicar general.
He also served as vicar general under Bishop LaValley until retiring from the position March 31, 2013.
In 2012, Msgr. Lawler retired as pastor of St. Mary’s Waddington and St. John the Baptist, Madrid. Msgr. Lawler resided at Notre Dame Rectory during his retirement.
Msgr. Lawler was predeceased by his brothers James Lawler, M.D., and John Lawler. He is survived by his brother Richard and Sally Lawler and two nephews, Michael and Kate Lawler their children Mark and Maggie and Patrick and Kathy Lawler and their children Brian and Nathan. Other nephews are John Adams, James Adams, Thomas and William Adams and a niece Bonnie Adams.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to St. Joseph’s Nursing Home, 950 Linden Street, Ogdensburg, N.Y., 13669