By Mary Louise Putrow
Reverend Robert Hater (1934 - Present) is a Roman Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. He was born on February 2, 1934 to Olivia and Stanley Hater. Since the time of his ordination Father Hater has been active in circles of religious education in a variety of different settings: professor of philosophy and theology, parish priest, theological advisor, theological consultant to religion book companies, director of archdiocesan office of religious education, director of seminary graduate philosophy department, writer and lecturer, among others.
Robert James Hater (Bob) was born into the family of Olivia and Stanley Hater on February 2, 1934 at Cincinnati Good Samaritan Hospital. A year later Bob's sister, Mary Ann, was born and within several years a third child, Joan, was welcomed into the family home. Tom, younger than Bob by eleven years completed the Hater household. The Hater children grew up in a happy religious atmosphere where the quality of family life was the primary concern of both father and mother. Time together was a priority. Each week part of the family income was put aside so that during the summer the whole family could embark on several weeks' vacation. This practice continued for years; each time the family traveled a little further away from home so the children could see and learn more about life in their homeland. This sense of always expanding the horizons has accompanied Bob well into his seventh decade.
The Hater home was a thoroughly Catholic home where Sunday was always observed as the day of worship for the family. The sacraments were frequented; religious images abounded in the household, crucifixes, holy water, sacred pictures, bibles and Catholic periodicals. Bob attests today to the unconscious but positive effect that these symbols had on his own faith development.
Olivia Hater was a staunch supporter of education. Although she was offered a college scholarship after high school, her family's need of an additional wage earner superseded her own interests and Olivia went to work immediately following twelfth grade graduation. Stanley, one of nine children, joined the work force at the age of sixteen, leaving St. Augustine high school as he, too, had to work in the family's dry goods store to help support the family. Such would not be the case for the Hater children. Stanley was insistent that after college, the family store was not an option for his sons and daughters. The education that the parents did not enjoy became an imperative for their children. The example as well as the encouragement of their parents was a factor in promoting intellectual pursuits. Olivia was an avid reader, alleged by her son to have read every child's book in the neighborhood public library by eighth grade. A love for knowledge was part of the inheritance of the Hater children. It is amazing to note that Olivia at age eighty-two was still correcting English papers for her college age granddaughter. All four siblings had the benefit of a Catholic education from grade school through college. Bob earned a Ph.D. in philosophy from St. John's University in Jamaica, New York and his sister, Mary Ann, a Ph.D. in mathematics from Purdue University. Joan received a degree from Mt. St. Joseph College and became a teacher; Tom received a degree from Villa Madonna College (St. Thomas More), and eventually began his own business. With good reason the parents were very proud of their children.
For living evidence that Bob is Olivia's son one need look no further than to the ongoing and extensive list of Bob's publications. Love of knowledge and study was not the only thing inherited by the Hater siblings. The lively inner free spirit of Olivia further defined the mother. According to Bob, his mother was the embodiment of the Christian woman, a living example of the meaning of the beatitudes. Truly, according to his friends, her son walks in his mother's footsteps today.
The paternal influence was equally strong and impressive. Stanley Hater was a complement to Olivia's engaging personality. His business was not the ordinary dry goods store; it was the locus for the practice of Christian virtue; generosity and care for persons permeated the atmosphere of his business. As his children went about their chores in the store they could not help but be influenced by the goodness of their father. An example of Ezra is a personification of this Christian virtue. The story is told that Ezra, the pastor of a small church in the area would come into the store every year during the days preceding Christmas and would give Mr. Hater a handful of coins. After collecting the items he wanted for gifts for his parishioners, he would ask Mr. Hater which of those he could afford. No matter the number or the prices, Stanley always assured him that the money he had was more than adequate for his purchases. The thoughtful father taught Bob more than father-son sports information, and more than the carpentry skills Bob sometimes practices. It was from his father also that Bob developed a love of nature. As a young child Bob remembers that his dad taught him to plant seeds and to cultivate tender flowers (Hater 2002, p. 35). Stanley Hater's deep concern for the welfare of persons, his generosity and sensitivity continue to live on in his son, as does his appreciation for the beauty of nature. On a family vacation one year, Stanley became ill and was partially but temporarily paralyzed. Bob who was in eighth grade at the time recalls even today the great admiration he had for his father who suffered with quiet patience as he struggled to regain his health.
When Stanley died in 1980, Bob began a book about his father. Although it was never published the manuscript remains a lasting tribute to a father who so strongly influenced his son and a son who so admired his father. In memory of his father and mother Bob has established the Hater Charitable Fund to provide scholarships for persons, including those in the Lay Ministry Program, which he began at the Athenaeum of Ohio in 1974-1975.
Reflecting upon his strong Catholic upbringing, Bob can also name the numerous role models who reinforced the home environment. As is common for many persons growing up Catholic in the thirties and forties, a strong neighborhood environment, wonderful saintly parish priests, the sisters and Catholic schoolteachers, strong bonding among classmates were all formative in Bob's religious development. Today Bob names his personal foundation in faith as one of the God given gifts with which he has been blessed.
Like his mother before him, Bob, when he graduated from Elder High School was offered a college scholarship and like his mother, Bob refused the scholarship to follow another path in life, a path that was to lead him to ordination to the priesthood in the Catholic Church. Although the seed was probably planted early on, Bob's desire to begin priestly studies was manifest in the last year of high school. He remembers the turning point on a pleasant spring afternoon as he walked home from tennis practice, very conscious of the natural beauty around him. "Crisp air, new tree buds and a pesky squirrel surrounded me. … Suddenly a powerful presence overpowered me. I stopped and looked into the tree. The sparkling sunshine through the new green life seemed to say, "I have something special for you to do with your life.'" (Hater, 1990, p. 36). Bob later interpreted that as a call to the priesthood. He applied and was accepted at the diocesan minor seminary. Seminary life presented its challenges to Bob. The rigor and overall life style were a sharp contrast to his home environment but he continued on because as he has said, "I was being pushed so strongly toward something; I could feel the inner hand of God at work in me". (Hater, personal interview, October 6, 2008). Bob completed a bachelor's degree (1957) from the Athenaeum of Ohio (St. Mary Seminary of the West in Cincinnati) and a master's degree (1959) from the same institution. Seminary years are generally characterized as years of discernment on the part of both the individual and the institution, determining whether the call to priesthood is truly the call of God and whether one is approaching ordination with true intentionality. The surprise announcement that the Archbishop wanted to ordain Bob and another Cincinnati seminarian a year earlier than the rest of their classmates propelled Bob forward more quickly in his discernment. It was quite obvious that on the part of the institution, the faculty and formators were assured that God was truly calling Bob to the priesthood. Bob's unique intellectual giftedness and personal qualities were easily recognized by diocesan authorities. He would later be asked to begin doctoral studies in philosophy at St. John's University in Jamaica, New York in 1964.
Bob was ordained to the priesthood on August 15, 1959. His first assignment was as an assistant at Holy Angels parish in Cincinnati. In time Bob learned a lesson that was to influence his future preaching and writing. His mother had attended one of the parish masses that he celebrated. When he asked her what she thought of his preaching, she suggested "You need to tell more stories; stories get the attention of the people". By his own admission, she had burst his academic bubble. Storytelling was to become the hallmark of all his future writing and preaching.
Terrence Tilley, chair of the department of religious studies at the University of Dayton acknowledged this thrust just ten years ago (1998) on the occasion of a banquet at the University when Hater was being honored as professor emeritus. He wrote:
A master story-teller, Bob peers intently through his bottle-thick glasses at his students, his shock of salt and pepper hair cascades over his forehead, and he tells them a story - often a homey one. And his stories carry him and his hearers along until they can see just how the practical and the theoretical converge (program on the occasion of the President's Recognition Dinner May 18, 1999).
During the years (1959-1964) of this first parochial assignment Bob began on a ministerial path to which he has held fast for over fifty years, that of teaching. Along with the pastoral work of a parish priest Bob was assigned to Purcell High School and eventually to Marian High School as a teacher and guidance counselor. Early in his priestly life Bob was exposed to the multiple aspects of parochial ministry: liturgical celebrations, high school teaching, counseling, care for the sick and dying. Although sensitive by nature, Bob learned a deeper compassion for the sick and terminally ill.
In 1964 the Archbishop of Cincinnati, Karl J. Alter, invited Bob to begin doctoral studies in philosophy at St. John University in Jamaica, New York. Hater defended his doctoral dissertation, The psycho-philosophy of the human person, and graduated in 1967. As may have been anticipated, Bob was being groomed for a position at the very same seminary from which he had graduated. In 1964 Bob began his career at the Athenaeum of Ohio as a professor of philosophy. From 1967-1974 Hater was Director of the Graduate Program of Philosophy.
One fall season in the late sixties this innovative, enthusiastic, young priest in his second year of teaching at the Athenaeum suddenly had a life altering experience. He was involved in an automobile accident. The suffering caused by the accident and the medical inability to locate the cause of his illness led Bob into a period of weakness and depression. Everything that had been important to him diminished and he was barely able to attend to the charges that were his. Spiritual aridity and his weakened condition taught Bob some in-depth life lessons and new understandings and practices of ministry.
During this time he felt immobilized and found it difficult to conduct his classes. Some seminary students began to come to his room to study with him. From this experience he realized that true ministry contained an element of mutuality. As a priest, as an instructor, his role was to minister to others, helping them to grow in knowledge and grace; in this process he found that he was being ministered to by these young men who drew out of him characteristics hitherto undiscovered. The strong rational bent inevitable in a seminarian's study and preparation for priesthood began to give way to a more holistic and affective stance on life. In reality the grace of that period built on the part of Bob's life that was already within him but remained dormant during his heavily academic years.
One enduring characteristic of Hater's ministry was that he could not only recognize when a need or vacuum existed in the ministry of the church but he had the courage and ability to act on a response to that need. Examples abound.
For one, shortly after Archbishop Bernardin arrived in Cincinnati in 1972, he asked Bob to become director of religious education for the Archdiocese. Bob was already concerned about new directions for the catechetical ministry in the Archdiocese, including the quality of religious education in the Catholic schools. To help remedy the situation Bob worked with a fledgling group of parish religious educators while he taught at the seminary. Bernardin, recognizing the truth and value of Bob's concerns established the religious education office of the Archdiocese in 1973 and appointed Bob the first director, a role he maintained for six years. Hater calls this appointment "a true gift".
During this time the office abounded with ideas and inspiring energy. He always looked to move beyond what is to what can be. The expansiveness cultivated in his childhood had grown to full force. Bob's six years in catechetical leadership for the Archdiocese gave him the opportunity to put into action his profound belief that leadership's responsibility is to draw forth the gifts of the community. His tenure in the office clearly illustrated that. Under Bob's leadership the various members in the Office of Religious Education put in place a diocesan wide evaluation program, The Religious Education Assessment Program (REAP). It was a project that cut across all programs and all ages. It was designed for individuals and parishes to speak out about the quality of and desires for religious education in the Archdiocese. The cooperative effort of the Religious Education staff produced the tools:
Ministry of the catechist. 1977. Adult participation: answering the call to ministry 1977. Dimensions of parish catechetical ministry: an assessment instrument 1979. Growing together; ministry to children 1979. Growing together: ministry to youth 1979
With an incredible amount of enthusiasm Bob continued to be on the cutting edge of growth movements in the church. A co-worker at that time, Maggie Cooper, describes his management and ministerial style "I experienced Bob as a visionary leader. He saw catechetics as formation at all age levels before adult faith formation was on the national agenda" (personal communication, December 6, 2008). With his responsibilities for the religious education of the archdiocese, his teaching and preaching, Bob continued to listen to persons who were searching for a deeper relationship with God. Such was the case with the formation of the Lay Pastoral Ministry Program at the Athenaeum. In 1974 two of his former students approached Bob and related their desire to work for the church but were clear that religious life was not an option for them.
They really made me think. I had no answers; quite frankly, I knew of few opportunities for them. I asked if they knew of other people with similar interests. They replied in the affirmative. We arranged a meeting the following Sunday to discuss the issue further. … without any publicity, twenty-four people showed up at the meeting, all expressing a desire to work in the Church's apostolate. (Hater, 1979, p. 14).
Thus began a series of discussions at the seminary and with the Archbishop that culminated in the establishment of a Lay Pastoral Ministry Program. This experience radically changed Hater's view on ministry, a topic on which he would frequently write or lecture. It is interesting to note that Hater's own education was prompted by others and his willingness to listen to them. In 1979 he wrote The Ministry Explosion, an articulation and amplification of this very topic. Truly Hater was on the cutting edge of a development in the Roman Catholic Church. After going through a number of developmental changes and adjustments, the Cincinnati Lay Pastoral Ministry Program today is housed at the seminary and continues in existence serving the many people of the Archdiocese who desire to be more actively and knowingly involved in the Catholic Church.
As archdiocesan director of religious education Hater responded to yet another need; he began a program for separated and divorced Catholics. The program was eventually was taken over by Catholic Social Services and continues under its auspices today.
In 1979 when he passed on the leadership in the archdiocesan office to Mr. Anthony Dardy, his involvements did not lessen but only gained momentum as he was recognized nationally as a talented speaker, an effective teacher and deeply pastoral minister. The futuristic insights and the many challenges he offered his audiences were softly cloaked by Bob's unassuming and humble stance. Yet his message was most effective and challenging.
That same year the National Conference of Diocesan Directors of Religious Education (NCDD) in recognizing the multiple talents and gifts of this incredible man called upon him to join forces with them as a resource and research theologian for the organization. He served in this capacity for six years and published two seminal works commissioned by NCDD, Religious Education and Catechesis: A Shift in Focus and The Relationship Between Evangelization and Catechesis (Bombach, personal communication, December 8, 2008). Later he also wrote The Role of a Diocesan Religious Education Office (1981) and Parish Catechetical Ministry (1986) for NCDD.
In 1979-80 Bob had the opportunity to participate in a year long Religious Leaders Program at the University of Notre Dame. Shortly after his arrival at Notre Dame, Stanley Hater began to grow increasingly ill. Bob was faced with the inevitable question; should he remain at Notre Dame or return to his family. He determined that his place was at his mother's side in Cincinnati. He returned to Holy Family parish where he had lived and ministered since 1973 and engaged in some teaching and ministry at the parish. He sat daily at his father's bedside, praying, reflecting and even writing. When Stanley was released from the hospital into Olivia's home care, Bob continued to be a strong attentive presence in the Hater home. On December 6, 1980 Stanley Hater entered into life eternal. Bob's grief was deep; the loss of his father was very difficult. This occasion brought with it another life lesson that Bob does not hesitate to share. He learned that "To keep things to yourself is a real weakness; you really have to open up to be really free" (Hater, personal interview, October 7, 2008).
In 1981 Bob began a teaching ministry at the University of Dayton in the Religious Studies Department. He entered the teaching arena once more with full enthusiasm and unfettered energy. The University of Dayton and its students benefited from the wisdom of Hater for eighteen years. Here he served as professor of religious studies concentrating on areas of pastoral theology and ministry. Besides his regular faculty responsibilities at the University, Bob could be found ministering at Holy Family Parish, or traversing the United States and Canada, giving keynote addresses, presenting workshops, participating in conferences, lecturing or serving as an adjunct professor in various colleges and universities. He addressed gatherings on the east and west coasts and many places in-between. During these years he could be found at the Kino Institute of Phoenix, the University of San Francisco, St. John's Provincial Seminary in the Archdiocese of Detroit, University of San Diego, John Carroll University, The Center for Youth Ministry in Annapolis, the United States Bishops' Conference in D.C. and many, many more. His resume cites more than three hundred lectures over thirty years. Much of this work has been preserved on video and on tape and is in Hater's private collection.
In 1999 Hater assumed the position of professor emeritus at the University and returned to teaching at the Athenaeum of Ohio. In that same year at a social gathering he met several women who told their story of unsuccessfully seeking opportunities to deepen their personal spiritual life through further biblical studies by enrolling at Mt. St. Mary Seminary, a part of the Athenaeum. Since they did not have the academic prerequisites for the graduate school of theology they were not able to attend classes. Bob listened attentively to their story and eventually obtained permission for the group to form what came to be called the Adult Spirituality Institute at the Athenaeum. It was constituted as an organization independent of the seminary but allied with the Special Studies Division within the Athenaeum. More than ninety people attended the first program, evidence of the need for adult Christians to have access to spiritual growth resources. This was one more time when Bob was instrumental in opening the resources of the Athenaeum to the larger community of the Archdiocese. Today the Institute is still going strong and functions under the auspices of a group of laywomen.
Publishing companies also recognized the multiple talents of this man. Hater was asked to serve as theological consultant for Benziger Publishing Company's new Elementary School Religion Series. Harcourt Religion Publishers also called upon him to serve as theological consultant and to evaluate their elementary and high school religion publications in preparation for their submission to the Bishops' Committee on the Catechism for official approval. Today Hater continues a relationship with this company as their national theologian and as a member of their speaker's bureau. In connection with Harcourt Religion Publishers Hater became involved in a first in catechesis - the production of Call to Faith eConnect, an online source for lifelong catechesis for the entire Christian Catholic community. His main contribution was the formation of nine professionally prepared podcasts on the basic areas of Catholic thought and practice: revelation, Trinity, Jesus, kingdom of God, church, morality, social teaching, sacraments and liturgy. Once more Hater moved to the cutting edge while demonstrating his unique teaching ability to provide a bridge between the academic and the pastoral, and translating the academic into the language of the everyday Catholic.
By his own admission, Hater always sought to expand his experience and did so again and again. It is not surprising then that over the years Hater had explored the Native American culture. About eighteen years ago he began attending National Native American gatherings such as the Tekakwitha and Kateri Conferences. The Native American love and practice of story telling and appreciation for nature found resonance in Hater and vice versa. Over the years the Tekakwitha Conference has produced their own cultural workbooks for the teaching of religion and planned to revise the First Communion book for teachers of children. It was to be called To Eat the Sacred Food. Unfortunately, the writer of the first draft died in 2007. Hater did not hesitate to take up her work; he added the theological content and completed the text. A further outgrowth of his involvement with the Native Americans was the development and implementation of a course at the University of Dayton, The Religious World of Native Americans. Hater also extends his gifts in service with the catechists of Native American children and adults.
Hater continues to teach at the Athenaeum of Ohio, a Catholic graduate school and major seminary in Cincinnati and also teach at Chatfield College in Cincinnati. In addition, he serves on numerous boards including membership on the committee, then board, that was involved in hiring and establishing the first Chair of Catholic Studies at the University of Cincinnati. He has also recently served as a national theological consultant for Our Sunday Visitor Press, in Huntington, Indiana (2011-2014). He has consulted on a series for elementary and high school students: School and Parish programs. Titles of elementary series - Alive in Christ.
Contributions to Christian Education
What was it that made Hater so popular, so sought after? Through his books and articles, presentations and appearances at various conferences, he became known for his efforts to convey the meaning of evangelization for the Catholic community, for his position on the ministry of the laity, his appreciation of the process of catechesis, his concern for the quality of family life and his ability to speak in a meaningful way to all groups of persons, the highly educated as well as the ordinary lay person in the pews on Sunday. Bob's choice of residence in a parish rectory over his years of priestly ministry was an asset, as he never grew far away from the average parishioner although his major work was in academia. Today he ministers at St. Clare Parish in Cincinnati. "Fr. Bob has a way of making theology accessible and for helping people regardless of their theological background or their role in the church to grasp the importance of being a faithful disciple of our Lord… ." (Leisa. Anslinger, personal communication , November 20, 2008) Rzepecki (2007) who reviewed one of Hater's books, When a Catholic Marries a Non-Catholic, concludes his review with "Its [the book's] common sense approach coupled with candid observations make Fr. Hater's book special".
To many he was teacher; to others, coworker and to many others he was and continues to be friend. Students rated him with highest praise. It was clear that Hater was as appreciative of his students as they were of him. His love for teaching shone through all his course work but the environment that Hater established is also a factor in his high ratings as a teacher. He notes, "They [the students] learn about religion and life in a relaxed, creative atmosphere" (personal interview, October 7, 2008). Hater admits that teaching the graduate and undergraduate students at the University of Dayton was the high point of his role as professor. At the Athenaeum of Ohio his quality of teaching was publicly recognized; on October 21, 2007 when Hater was presented with the Athenaeum's Celebration of Teaching Award, Reverend Jeffrey Kemper, Dean of the School said, of him:
Father Hater was chosen for this award in light of his dedication to the needs of the students, his clear and insightful mode of presentation, and his continuous work to develop courses to best enable Athenaeum students to minister to the needs of those they serve. ( http://www.zoominfor.com accessed September 5, 2008).
His coworkers speak with a deep sense of respect for Bob's ecclesial leadership. "Bob has understood as few others seem to, the complexity of demands a pastor faces, and particularly the challenges of leading a parish in a way that will foster engaging and evangelizing life" (Leisa Anslinger, personal communication, November 17, 2008).
With the many items on Hater's professional and ministerial agenda it is difficult to imagine that he has any leisure time for friends. However, Bob Hater is definitely not a one-dimensional person. Bob reads profusely and can converse knowledgeably on many subjects, among them, philosophy, sports, politics and even antiques. He is a self-declared antique collector. His friends attest that Bob does know how to stop and relax. The love of nature first enkindled by Stanley Hater has found yet another expression in Bob's later years. Off a country road in Indiana at times Bob can be found walking the in the woods and enjoying the quiet peace and solitude of his farm and at other times he can be found there sharing the country tranquility with his friends and family in a good and lively discussion. One friend states the obvious, "Bob is never at a loss for words and uses them well". (Jeanette Jabour, personal communication, November 24, 2008). To read his books and his articles is to know Bob Hater; whether it is The Ministry Explosion (1979) or Tell Me a Story (2006) or any publications in-between, they all tell the narrative of a man totally transparent, fully alive in the love of God and glowing with love, respect, and delight in his companions on the journey, a man who is an inspiration to all. Within almost every experience that life has offered Bob can be found the seeds of a good story. His quiet and reflective spirit grinds the experience into a life lesson for himself and all those to whom he speaks. "Our individual stories help us to appreciate our calling. … we learn many lessons from our stories. We begin by reflecting on the experiences that are so ordinary that we can easily overlook them." (Hater 2004c, p. 10)
In his book, To tell a story (2006) Bob relates an episode which touches deeply into the human heart; it is the story of his mother's death at ninety-one on Good Friday, March 29, 2002. The love of and closeness to his mother intensifies the impact of this story. In relating this episode, Bob does not hesitate to lay bare his emotions. "When I saw her dead body I fell to my knees and sobbed, while praying for her" (p. 6). "She left many wonderful memories behind for Bob and for all of us who knew her" (Jeanette Jabour, personal communication, December 27, 2008). The mother who in her wisdom advised Bob to tell more stories, herself became a story. Bob's deep grief moved him to ponder once more the mysteries of life, death and resurrection and once more to see the connections among three stories: his, Jesus' and the church's. "My experience with my mother during her final days showed me the close link between story and basic belief. One without the other is incomplete" (ibid., p. 7). The words of a friend and co-worker bear testimony to the intense value of Hater's stories and this one in particular.
I remember the first time I heard Bob Hater speak at a national conference. He shared the story of his mother's passing away. … I was taken aback by the power of his delivery and the impact it clearly had on the packed room. He held the participants' attention and inserted us into the story. When he drew faith implications from the story, it was truly a catechetical moment. I felt proud and honored to be working with him …. (Sabrina Magnuson, personal communication, December 17, 2008)
Bob Hater is truly the quintessential storyteller. He uses this gift most effectively for the religious education and spiritual development of his readers and listeners.
Scarcely any book Bob has written has escaped his deep love for nature, a gift carried through his childhood to adult maturity. Being close to the people of God, listening to them, hearing their stories Bob experienced the pulse of the church; he foresaw many developments within the church before they were recognized by many or officially affirmed. The Ministry Explosion; a New Awareness of Every Christian's Call to Minister was written in 1979 before the synod on the laity and any of the official ecclesial documents that followed.. Religious Education: A Shift in Focus was written just as the conversations on that topic were beginning to include concepts related to the process of catechesis. His early work on the relationship between catechesis and evangelization (1981) preceded the serious discussions parishes are having today on the topic and before the General Directory for Catechesis (1997) and the National Directory for Catechesis (2005) brought the topic more fully into Catholic circles. Gerry Baumbach (personal communication, December 8, 2008) speaks well of Hater's giftedness.
Few scholars possess the depth of experience and academic fluency in catechesis and religious education as Fr. Robert J. Hater, Ph.D. does. No stranger to the broad sweep of catechetical ministry and religious education. Hater engages his hearers and readers with thought-provoking takes on a multitude of issues impacting the church. His ability to address in his own unique style, complex matters and arrive at a diversity of solutions pertinent to existing and potential catechetical challenges is unparalleled.
Bombach further relates the experience of many of Hater's friends: Within the world of academe Hater has influenced my own catechetical development largely from periodic conversations with him and from my reliance on his writings to strengthen my understanding of catechesis as both a dimension of the church's pastoral life and as an academic discipline of its own. People from all walks of life are comfortable with Father Hater and "he is at home among academics, professional catechetical leaders, "the person in the pew" and children and young people (personal communication, December 8, 2008).
Although in the forefront of many movements and among the distinguished in teaching this writer suggests that Bob's popularity lies primarily in his ability to receive as well as to tell stories that touch the heart and soul of his listeners and readers. It is because "He is willing at any moment to help someone, … whenever a need arises. This includes family, friends and anyone who comes into his life" (Jeanette Jabour, personal communication, November 24, 2008). It is in response to this generosity that persons also share their stories.
Hater helps his audience understand how God is present in the ordinary events of life. As a religious educator Bob Hater effectively attends to a primary and most essential task of catechesis: he helps his audience understand how God is present in the ordinary events of human life, how one might respond in faith to that presence and how over the centuries the church has articulated this relationship. In many ways he reminds one of another person who long ago sought to reveal the meaning and challenges of life with God through parables and stories. Truly Bob is, first and foremost, a disciple of Jesus Christ.
In summary his colleagues describe Hater's contributions to the field of religious education: For more than thirty years, Bob has inspired those in catechetical ministry through his gifts of leadership, writing, speaking and teaching. He brings a catechetical vision, a strong theological perspective and a pastoral sensitivity to his work with leaders, students, catechists and publishers. (Diana Lampitt and Sabrina Magnuson, personal communication, December 12, 2008).
These colleagues knew him well and have said it all. Many people in the catechetical world are the richer for their contact with Fr. Robert Hater.
Recently Hater has have given many, many lectures, keynote addresses, and workshops in hundreds of places, nationally and internationally, in most states and beyond. These focus on education, ministry, spirituality, evangelization, liturgy, family, and the workplace. He taught in over fifteen colleges and universities throughout the United States.
On January 24, 2015, Hater received the “Distinguished Communicator of the Year Award” by the Salesian Guild in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Catholic Press Association awarded his book, Your (Imperfect) Holy Family an Honorable Mention in the category of Family Life.
Books & Pamphlets
- Hater, R.J. (1979). The ministry explosion; a new awareness of every Christian's call to mission. Dubuque, IA: Brown.
- Hater, R.J. (1981). Ministry in the Catholic high school. New York: Sadlier.
- Hater, R.J. (1981). Religious Education and Catechesis: A Shift in Focus. Washington, DC: National Conference of Diocesan Directions of Religious Education - CCD.
- Hater, R .J. (1981). The Relationship Between Evangelization and Catechesis. Washington, DC: National Conference of Diocesan Directions of Religious Education - CCD.
- Hater, R.J. (1982). The Role of a Diocesan Religious Education/Catechetical Office. Washington, DC: National Conference of Diocesan Directions of Religious Education - CCD.
- Hater, R.J.(1986). Parish catechetical ministry. Encino, CA: Benziger.
- Hater, R.J. (1990). News that is good: evangelization for Catholics. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press.
- Hater, R.J. (1994). New visions, new directions: implementing the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Allen. TX: Thomas More Publications.
- Hater, R.J. (1988). Holy family: Christian families in a changing world. Valencia, CA: Tabor Publishing Co., Allen TX.
- Hater, R. J (1998). The search for meaning: myth and mystery in the new millennium. New York: Crossroad.
- Hater, R.J. (2002). Catholic evangelization: the heart of ministry. Orlando, FL: Harcourt Religion Publishers.
- Hater, R.J. (2004). The Catholic parish: hope for a changing world. New York: Paulist Press.
- Hater, R.J. (2004). Prophets of Faith: The Role of Diocesan Catechetical Leadership. Harcourt Religion Publishers.
- Hater, R.J. (collaborator ) with Teresa LeCompte. Journey through the New Testament. Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace.
- Hater, R.J. (2005). The Catholic family in a changing world. Orlando: Harcourt Religion Publishers.
- Hater, R.J. (2006). Catechist's companion: how to be a good catechist. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Press.
- Hater, R.J. (2006). Tell me a story: the role of narrative in the faith life of Catholics. Mystic, CN: Twenty-third Publications.
- Hater, R.J. (2007). When a Catholic Marries a Non-Catholic. Cincinnati, OH: St. Anthony Press.
- Hater, R. J. (2009). Journeys of discovery: Transitions, rites of passage, and the sacramental life of faith. New London, CT: Twenty-Third Publications.
- Hater, R. J. (2009). What can Catholics learn from Evangelicals? Alpharetta, GA: Visual Dynamics Publishing.
- Hater, R. J. (2011). Gateways to God: Celebrating the Sacraments. Huntington, Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor Press.
Hater, R. J. (2011). What can Catholics learn from Evangelicals. Alpharetta, GA: Visual Dynamics Publishing
Hater, R.J. (2013). The Sacraments and indigenous people. Alexandria, LA: Sky World Publications, Tekakwitha Conference.
Hater, R. J. (2013). The parish guide to the new evangelization. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division.
Hater, R.J. (2013). (Pamphlet) Living the Beatitudes: The path to happiness (# P1591). Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Publications.
Hater, R. J. (2014). Common sense catechesis: Lessons from the past, road map for the future. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division.
Hater, R. J. (2014). Catholics come alive! Lessons from Evangelicals. (Revised Edition of What can Catholics learn from Evangelicals?) Alpharetta, GA: Visual Dynamics Publishing.
- Hater, R.J. (2015). Your [imperfect] holy family. Cincinnati, Ohio, Franciscan Media.
- Hater, R.J. (2017). (Pamphlet) God the Father (#P1903), Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Publications.
- Hater, R.J. (2017). (Pamphlet) Jesus Christ: The Son of God (#P1873), Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Publications.
- Hater, R.J. (2017). (Pamphlet) The Holy Spirit (#P1905), Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Publications.
- Hater, R.J.(2017) Finding God anew everyday, Vol 1. Alpharetta, Ga: Visual Dynamics Publishing.
- Hater, R.J.(2018) Finding God anew everyday, Vol 2. (Pending) Alpharetta, Ga: Visual Dynamics Publishing.
Chapters in books
- Hater, R.J. (1985) Evangelization and the priesthood of all believers in Smith, G.C. (Ed.) Evangelizing adults (57-74). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
- Hater, R.J. (1985) Technology and Christian telecommunications: philosophical reflections in University of Dayton: Center for Religious Telecommunications (Ed.), Religious education and telecommunications. Dayton,OH: Marianist Press.
- Hater, R.J. (1987). Facilitating conversion processes in Parent, Neil (Ed.), Christian Adulthood (pp. 3-15). Washington, DC: USCC
- Hater, R.J. (1992). The new Catholic evangelization. In K. Boyack (Ed.), The new Catholic evangelization (pp.13-26). New York: Paulist Press.
- Hater, R.J. (2000). Eucharist and evangelization: Personal and theological reflections in Jubilee 2000:Essays by faculty of the Athenaeum, 35-40.
- Hater, R.J. (2016) Wrote the Foreword for Louise Ketchum Hunt’s book, In the shadow of the steel cross. Phoenix, Az. Amor Deus Publishing
- *n.a. indicates that complete information is not available.
- Hater, R.J. (1958, March). The doctrinal authority of St. Thomas. Record 7(3), 35-53.
- Hater, R.J. (1960, May). Methods which interfere with the normal process of nature during and after coitus. Record 9(3), 37-41
- Hater, R.J. (1966, June 10). Priest probes God is dead idea. Catholic Telegraph, Cincinnati.
- Hater, R.J. (1966, October). Biblical renewal in a modern perspective. The Bible Today 25, 1770-1773.
- Hater, R.J. (1966, October). Comment in Haggadah, The Bible Today 25, 1734-1735.
- Hater, R.J. (1967, January 6). Freedom in a Catholic University. Catholic Telegraph, Cincinnati, Section Two.
- Hater, R.J. (1968, January). New horizons for the Spirit. Homiletic and Pastoral Review 68, 323-326.
- Hater, R.J (1976, February). A program for the business community. Living Light 13, 397-400.
- Hater, R.J. (1978, February). The ministry of the catechist. Momentum 9, 36-39.
- Hater, R.J. (January, 1979. The priest crisis. Priest 35, 43-45.
- Hater, R.J. & Ball, Judy. (1979, February). What's happening to the teaching authority of the church? Catholic Update.
- Hater, R.J. (1979, September). Evangelization: It is dynamite! Pastoral Life 28(8), 10-16.
- Hater, R.J (1979, January 18). Formal commissioning of lay ministers. Origins 8, 41+.
- Hater, R.J. (1979, March). The new challenge: the principal as ministerial leader. Today's Catholic Teacher 12, 14-15.
- Hater, R.J. (1979, April). Catechetical ministry. Catechist 12, 34-37.
- Hater, R.J. (1979, April). The new challenge: the principal as ministerial leader. Today's Catholic Teacher 12 (April, 1979), 58-59.
- Hater, R.J. (1985, Fall). Free to catechize. Catechist Connection, n.a.*
- Hater, R.J. (1985, January). Sin and reconciliation: changing attitudes in the Catholic Church. Worship 59, 18-31.
- Hater, R.J. (1988, January/February). Defining Catholic evangelization. Catholic Evangelization in the United States 1 (1), 5-9.
- Hater, R.J. (1988, Winter). Fundamentalism and the parish. Church 4, 17-25.
- Hater, R.J. (December, 1991). Christmas: Lessons for evangelizing catechesis. NCEA Newsletter 5(5), 2-3.
- Hater, R.J. (1992, July/August) Ten distinctive qualities of Catholic evangelization. Catholic World 182.
- Hater, R.J. (1993, January 22). Catechism. Catholic Telegraph.
- Hater, R.J. (1993, April). Priestly identity: a changing focus. Priest 49, 19-22.
- Hater, R.J. (1993, November). Using the Sunday homily to evangelize. Pastoral Life 43(10), 27-30.
- Hater, R.J. (n.a.) Technology and Catechetics: the Future is upon us. Catechetical Bulletin for Bishops 3, 1-3. *
- Hater, R.J. (1995, August). The catechism of the Catholic church and Episcopal leadership in catechetics. Catechetical bulletin for Bishops, 4.
- Hater, R.J. (1995, November). Old Story, New questions in changing times. Catechist Connection, 1-2.
- Hater, R.J. (1996, April/May). Old story, new directions. Momentum, 12-15.
- Hater, R.J. (December, 1997). Spiritual Links. Campus Report (University of Dayton) 25 (8), 4-5.
- Hater, R.J. (2000). Eucharist and evangelization: Personal and theological reflections in Jubilee 2000: Essays by faculty of Athenaeum of Ohio, 35-40.
- Hater, R.J. (2003, June). Asking the right Question. Catechist Connection, 18, 4.
- Hater, R.J. (2003, September). Does anyone use a playpen anymore?: discipline or lack of it, how does it affect the love of books? Catholic Library World 74(1), 17-19.
- Hater, R.J. (2004, April) Celebrating a life well lived. Ministry and Liturgy 31 (3), 13-14.
- Hater, R.J. (2004, June). Catechesis 25 years ago: catechesis today. Catechetical Leader, 4-5, 18-19.
- Hater, R.J.( 2004, August/September). Story, call and ritual. Liturgical Catechesis 7(4), 9-11.
- Hater, R.J. (2004, November/December). The parish leader: a prophet of hope. Parishworks, 1-2.
- Hater, R.J. (2006, Summer/Fall). The shifting climate of parishes. Lay ministry: the newsletter of the national association for lay ministry 23 (1), 8-11.
- Hater, R.J. (2006, November/December). Incarnational catechesis: the Word becomes flesh. Catechetical Leader 17(6), 4-7.
- Hater, R.J. (2007, November/December). Come, Lord Jesus. Catechetical Leader, 18(6), U1.
- Hater, R.J. (2008, November/December). Reflection on Advent; memories and hope. Catechetical Leader 19(6), 10-11.
- Hater, R.J. (2010, March/April). Illuminating the Paschal Mystery. Catechetical Leader, v. 21, no. 2, pp. 8-10.
- Hater, R.J. (2010, November/December). The Word Made Flesh at the Corner Store. Catechetical Leader, v. 21, no. 6, pp. 8-11.
Hater, R.J. (2010, September 19). Advent – Christmas+ Lent Easter: Cultivating the gift of self. (A series of 10 different reflections), Commissioned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Hater, R. J. (2010, Nov/Dec.). Word made flesh at the corner store, Catechetical Leader, 20(6), 8-11.
Hater, R.J. (2011, Dec. 20). Christmas in the old flat roofed house, Catechetical Leader, 22(6), 19-21.
Hater, R.J. (2013, August 18). A new attitude, In Focus Feature Article, Our Sunday Visitor, 9-10.
- Hater, R.J. (2015, October 7) Early History of the Lay Pastoral Ministry Program (LPMP) of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati on its Fortieth Anniversary. (Unpublished article)
- Hater, R.J. (2016, February 7) The Mass. Special insert article featured in the section called “In Focus”, appearing in the Our Sunday Visitor, OSV Newsweekly, pp. 11 – 14.
- Hater, R. J. (2016 May 25) Embracing our universal call to holiness. Commissioned by the United States Conference of Bishops (USCCB). Appeared on the USCCB Website as a theological reflection for Catechetical Sunday in October, 2016.
- Hater, R.J. (2016, November 27) Four steps for Christian discipleship in Advent. Special insert article featured in the section called “In Focus”, appearing in the Our Sunday Visitor, OSV Newsweekly, pp. 9 – 12.
- Hater, R. J. (2018) Revelation: Scripture and Tradition. In elementary religious education series, Blest are We - Faith in Action, Teacher Guide. Cincinnati, Ohio, RCL Benziger: A Kendall Hunt Company. This extensive featured section appears in all the teacher guides from Grades K to 8.
- Hater, R.J. (2017) “If You Can Make It, So Can I” The Priest, Vol 73, No 3, pp. 10 – 15.
- Hater, R.J. (2017) “Applying Lessons of Loss” The Priest, Vol 73, No 3, pp.16 – 23.
- Hater, R.J. (2018) “Obstacles in the Priesthood” The Priest, (Accepted for publication in 2018.
- Hater, R.J. The psycho-philosophy of the human person. Jamaica, NY: St. John University, 1967.
Book Reviews of Hater's Work
- Connelly, Eileen. When a Catholic Marries a Non-Catholic. Catholic Telegraph . April 6, 2007, 17
- Kunkel, D. When a Catholic Marries a Non-Catholic. The Catholic Herald. Spring, 2007.
- Schaefer, W. When a Catholic Marries a Non-Catholic. The Athenaeum. Summer, 2007, 13.
- Johnson, John.When a Catholic Marries a Non-Catholic. The Enquirer. May 24, 2007, p. D1.
- Rzepecki, Arnold.When a Catholic Marries a Non-Catholic. Catholic Library World 78. September, 2007, 50.
- Cullinan, M. K. Tell Me A Story, The Role of Narrative in the Faith Life of Catholics. Catechetical Leader 17. July/August, 2006, 13.
- Schaefer, W. Tell Me A Story, The Role of Narrative in the Faith Life of Catholics. The Athenaeum. Summer, 2007, 13.
- Connelly, E. Tell Me A Story, The Role of Narrative in the Faith Life of Catholics. Catholic Telegraph. April 6, 2007, 17.
- Hunt, J.Tell Me A Story, The Role of Narrative in the Faith Life of Catholics. St. Anthony Messenger 116 (4). September, 2008, 50-51
- Thomas, Dan. Journeys of Discovery: Transitions, Rites of Passage, and the Sacramental Life of Faith. Catechetical Leader. September/October, 2009, No. 5, p. 15
New Catholic Agenda Detailed for Parishes, a Review of The Parish Guide to the New Evangelization, by Lisa Biedenbach, Catholic Telegraph, October, 2013
New book by Fr. Hater traces history of catechesis, a Review of Common Sense Catechesis: Lessons for the Past: Road Map for the Future, Catholic Telegraph, May, 2014
Review of The Parish Guide to the New Evangelization by Pam Fischer, appeared in the Catechetical Leader magazine, Sept., 2013, Vol. 24, No., 5, p 28.
Review of Common Sense Catechesis reviewed by Lee Nagel on line in Catechetical Leader Weekly, May 24, 2014
- Review of Common Sense Catechesis. The Catholic Answer, November/December, 2014, Vol 28, No. 5.
- Sacraments and people with Mental Retardation. Dayton, OH: Center for Ministry with People with Disabilities, 1996.
- Spirituality of the Catechist. Allen, TX: Resources for Christian Living, 2006.
Tapes, Videos, Disks, Holy Cards
- R. J. Hater, Finding God in the Stories of our Lives. St. Clare Centennial Speaker's Series, Cincinnati, Ohio, September 22, 2010.
- Wrote the prayers on the backs of several holy cards, honoring Saint John XXIII, Saint John Paul II, and Pope Francis.
- National and International Keynote Addresses and Major Addresses, given in hundreds of cities from the 1970s until 2011.
- Local Workshops, Lectures and Sermons, given from 1970's to 2011.
- The extensive forty – five year record of Robert J. Hater’s keynote addresses, lectures, seminars, workshops, retreats, and teaching can be found catalogued in the Archives of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Contact archivist at the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, 100 East Eighth Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202. Tel. No. 513 421 3131.
- Hater, R.J. El mensaje sencillo de jesus. www.faithfirst.com/htm/Spanish... retrieved 11-12-08
- Hater, R. J. Mary in the church. http://18.104.22.168/html/catechist/catechistForm/archive_2005_06/catechistForm.html
- Advent - Christmas and Lent â€“ Easter Reflections: Cultivating the Gift of Self. A series of twelve reflections commissioned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for Catechetical Sunday, to be released on September, 2010. These can be found on the USCCB Website.
- The search for meaning: math and mystery in the new millennium. Brussat, F. and M.A. http://www.spiritualityandpractice.com retrieved 11-12-08
Hunt, Jeanne, Raising a moral child, Paulist Press, 2013
Boucher, John and Therese, Sharing the faith that you love, The Word Among Us Press, 2013
White, Joseph, The way God teaches: Catechesis and the divine pedagogy, Our Sunday Visitor, 2014
EWTN Radio Interview on the Catholic Connection, April 4, 2012, 9:15 AM Topic: Gateways to God
KFHC Interview, June 27, 2012. Topic Gateways to God
Radio Maria Interview, Meet the Author, March 27, 2014, Topic: Common Sense Catechesis, one hour
EWTN Radio Interview on the Catholic Connection, Son Rise Morning Show, April 8, 2012, 9:15 AM Topic: Common Sense Catechesis
Relevant Radio, Morning Air Show, April 30, 2014, Topic: Common Sense Catechesis
KVSS Radio, May 7, 2014, Topic: Common Sense Catechesis
Radio Maria Interview, From the Roof Tops, Topic: Topic: Common Sense Catechesis, one hour
Sirius XM Radio Catholic Channel, Busted Halo, May 28, 2015, Topic: Common Sense Catechesis
Relevant Radio, Morning Air Show, May 29, 2014, Topic: Common Sense CatechesisRelevant Radio, Morning Air Show, May 29, 2014, Topic: Common Sense Catechesis
Ask the Experts, Question and Answer Column, Our Sunday Visitor Website, numerous postings, 2012 – 2013
Blogs appearing on Our Sunday Visitor Blogs Website, Fifteen or so Blogs, 2014
- Seventy – Five or more Blogs, appearing on Our Sunday Visitor Website on the Parish, under the heading “About Everyday Faith” 2014 - 2016.
- Hater has nine podcasts on basic areas of Catholic belief and tradition. www.CalltoFaitheConnect.com (for demonstration). Subscriptions are available only through parishes.
Excerpts from Publications
Hater, R.J. Incarnational catechesis; the word becomes flesh. Catechetical Leader 17(6), 4-7.
"In reflecting on such ways to share the mystery of God's Word, the question arises, 'Is there a fundamental catechesis that underlies all of them?' Hints at an answer to this question can be gleaned by reflecting on Benedict XVI's encyclical, God is love.
Catechetical insights derived from Benedict's words suggest to me an orientation to all catechesis. I propose incarnational catechesis… as a fundamental perspective that serves as the groundwork for all catechesis and catechetical methods."
Hater, R.J. (1990). News that is good: evangelization for Catholics. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 52.
"Because God is first disclosed in family life, there is where evangelization begins. Family here is a broad term. We use it to include two or more people united by common bonds who share commitment, values and tradition, and whose relationship implies some degree of permanence. Besides the traditional nuclear family, this phrase includes extended, single-parent and blended families and other intentional communities.
My own experience of family has taught me how birth, growth, joy, suffering, success, failure, life and death root one's relationship with God."
Hater, R.J. (2006). Tell me a story: the role of narrative in the faith life of Catholics. Mystic, CN: Twenty-third Publications, 7.
"My mother's death caused me to meditate on life's mystery from the vantage point of faith. I saw the relationship between my story, Jesus' story and the Church's story, especially the teachings about death and resurrection. I saw Jesus' command to love God and one another lived out in her life. I better grasped the wisdom of her words, "Bob, tell stories" because her story disclosed the core message of God's kingdom of love. In her story I saw the virtues of faith, hope and love in action. … My experience with my mother during her final days showed me the close link between story and basic belief. One without the other is incomplete."
Hater, R.J. (1994). New visions, new directions: implementing the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Allen. TX: Thomas More Publications.
"Teaching Catholics the basis of their faith will not solve the Catholic identity question or usher in a return to the loyalty that an older generation experienced before Vatican II. More is required. Addressing present concerns like the impact of secular values on families, justice issues, liturgical renewal, people's spiritual hunger, women's issues in the church and the shortage of celibate priests will be necessary if the church hopes to establish a solid groundwork for ascertaining what it means to be a Catholic in the 21st century".
Tell me a story: the role of narrative in the faith life of Catholics.
As one of the author's more recent publications, Tell me a story includes many of the themes of his previous books. Its value lies in Hater's convincing narrative that life's stories reach their fullest meaning when connected with basic religious beliefs, and basic religious beliefs reach their fullest meaning when connected with life's stories. This book is an easy read and invaluable especially for homilists, catechists and teachers.
When a Catholic marries a non-Catholic.
This book was written when Hater discovered the frequency with which Catholics marry outside their faith, and the dearth of material to aid families in attending to the religious aspect of their marriage.
The Catholic parish: hope for a changing world..
The Catholic Parish cuts across all aspects of parish life and could well serve as a guide to renewed parish life. Pastoral suggestions are abundant through the book. In typical Hater fashion this writing is interspersed with stories.
Catholic evangelization: the heart of ministry.
This is an updated version of Hater's previous book, News that is good; evangelization for Catholics. Hater treats of evangelization as a dynamic that cuts across the whole gamut of parish life. The book reflects the current development of the concept of evangelization and the contemporary documents on the same. Hater offers suggestions for discussion, and action steps to move the reader from theory to practice.
Mary Louise Putrow
Mary Louise Putrow, OP is a member of the graduate faculty at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan. She received a Ph.D. from Michigan State University and an M.A. from Catholic University of America. Her research interest is the contribution of women and men to religious education in the Roman Catholic tradition