ALLOUEZ — Fr. Robert “Bob” Lexa, who last year marked 50 years as a priest, died on May 1 at age 94.
The call to the priesthood developed over time for Fr. Lexa.
“I was what they call a ‘late vocation,’” he said in a 2020 interview with The Compass for his 50-year anniversary.
Fr. Lexa was born in Milwaukee to Otto J. and Eugenia (Downey) Lexa. He attended Marquette University and Spencerian Business College, both in Milwaukee, and worked in sales for several years.
“I started out with Fuller Brush,” he explained. “I joined West Bend Aluminum. I sold cookware for years.”
When he decided to discern the call to religious life, Fr. Lexa said he sought out “what was available for late vocations.”
His formation included studying at St. Lawrence Seminary, Mount Calvary, Wis.; St. Felix and St. Mary seminaries in Indiana; and St. Anthony Seminary, Marathon. He earned degrees in philosophy and theology from Coalition Seminary in Washington, D.C.
Fr. Lexa was ordained to the priesthood at age 43 for Friars Minor Capuchin, St. Joseph Province, by Bishop Leo Brust on Sept. 3, 1970, at Mount Calvary.
He first served in the Diocese of Green Bay when he assisted at St. Joseph Parish, Appleton, in the early 1970s, and from 1972 to 1976, when he ministered at Monte Alverno Retreat House in Appleton. Fr. Lexa served in the Family Life Office for the diocese from 1977 to 1987. He then served two years at St. John Nepomucene Parish, Little Chute, prior to assisting at St. Margaret Mary Parish, Milwaukee.
In 1990, Fr. Lexa was appointed temporary administrator of St. Pius X Parish, Appleton. He was formally incardinated in the Diocese of Green Bay in 1991 and was appointed parochial vicar of Holy Name of Jesus Parish, Kimberly. In 1993, he was appointed parochial vicar of St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish, Neenah, where he served until his retirement on March 30, 1997. He continued to help with weekend Masses at St. Mary Parish, Appleton, through 2019.
As a senior priest, he was also involved in LEAVEN (Local Emergency Assistance Valley Ecumenical Network), an outreach project involving numerous churches. LEAVEN provides assistance to people who are struggling to meet basic needs.
The funeral Mass is scheduled for Thursday, May 6, at St. Mary Church in Appleton with Bishop David Ricken as celebrant. Burial will follow in St. Mary Cemetery in Appleton.