Former Chaplain at the College Passes Away
Reflecting on the priesthood, Fulton Sheen commented, “Our service is an arduous one; it involves not only laboring in the fields in the daytime, but serving tables at night. It is the mere duty of the priest to work both morning and evening.” Monsignor Robert Hofstetter, who passed away last month at the age of 94, embraced this call to service during his nearly seventy years as a priest, which included a period ministering to the Aquinas (Junior) College community.
A Nashville native and graduate of Father Ryan High School, Msgr. Hofstetter was ordained to the priesthood in 1954. During his seven decades as a priest, first for the Diocese of Nashville and later for the Diocese of Knoxville, he served the Catholic faithful in Tennessee in various pastoral assignments. This included a period beginning in the mid-1960s when he was the chaplain for the College, succeeding Fr. Thomas Cashin in this position. Msgr. Hofstetter was very influential in shaping the new student chapel that was part of the major expansion in 1968-1969 of the Aquinas Main building. In Ventures Rewarded: Jottings of the History of Aquinas Junior College Sister Aloysius Mackin, O.P., credits him with suggesting a number of the finishing touches for the new chapel. Probably his most notable contribution in this regard was designing the altar. [This altar is still present on campus.] While serving as chaplain he also regularly taught courses in Theology and Philosophy. The 1970-71 academic year brought his time at Aquinas to a close.
Msgr. Hofstetter’s passing also serves as a reminder of the significant role his family has played in the story of Aquinas College in its early years. His nephew, John C. Hofstetter Jr. (’66), was an alum. His parents, Oscar B. Hofstetter, Sr. and Marguerite Sanders Hofstetter, were benefactors of the college. His late brother, Oscar B. Hofstetter, Jr., served on the college’s Board of Governors during the 1970s. May their souls and all the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.