Larry Rosebaugh

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Larry Rosebaugh  

Oblate Priest (1935–2009)  

Fr. Larry Rosebaugh spent his life among people on the margins, those most vulnerable to the violence of the world. It was thus not surprising that this violence should eventually claim him. While driving in Guatemala with other priests on May 18, 2009, he was shot and killed by masked gunmen.  

Rosebaugh was eulogized as a combination of John the Baptist and Francis of Assisi. Raised in Milwaukee, he was ordained in the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Early on, his mission took an unusual turn: twenty months in prison for his role in destroying draft files in an anti–Vietnam War protest with the “Milwaukee 14.” Afterward he took up ministry among the homeless, living on the streets, scrounging in dumpsters for his daily bread. With his unkempt hair and long beard, he was scarcely distinguishable from those he served. In 1975, while working with street people in Recife, Brazil, he was again arrested and subjected to brutal treatment. Yet another prison term came when he trespassed at Fort Benning to broadcast tapes of Archbishop Romero to Salvadoran troops who were training there.  

In his last years he was working in Guatemala with young people battling AIDS, when his superiors told him it was time to come home to retire. He never made it.  

“The frustration of dire poverty doesn’t really impress until we become utterly impoverished. The pains of hunger become real to us only when they are ours. In the meantime, we can only try to put ourselves in the place of such victims and attempt to alleviate some frustration and pain.” —Fr. Larry Rosebaugh 

© Liturgical Press.

Robert Ellsberg

Robert Ellsberg is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Orbis Books and the author of several award-winning books, including All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time; Blessed Among All Women; and The Saints' Guide to Happiness.

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