Jesuit Father Robert W. Dundon, SJ, died on March 9, 2016, at St. Camillus Jesuit Community in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. He was 83 years old, a Jesuit for 63 years, and a priest for 46 years.
Born in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in 1932, Fr. Dundon attended grade school and high school in Iron Mountain, Michigan. After high school, he spent a year at the Michigan College of Mining and Technology in Houghton and another year at St. Lawrence College in Mount Calvary, Wisconsin. Fr. Dundon entered the Society of Jesus at St. Stanislaus Seminary in Florissant, Missouri, on August 17, 1952. After pronouncing first vows, he spent a year teaching at Red Cloud Indian School, before following the usual course of studies at St. Stanislaus Seminary and Saint Louis University. Fr. Dundon earned a PhD in chemistry from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore during his regency. He studied theology at Woodstock College in Maryland and was ordained a priest on June 4, 1969. He did his tertianship in St. Paul, Minnesota, from 1972 to 1973. Father Pedro Arrupe, SJ, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, received Fr. Dundon’s final vows in Lagos, Nigeria, on May 3, 1977.
Fr. Dundon was a chemistry teacher who was always pastorally involved wherever he served, which was primarily in Nigeria. Following his ordination, he taught chemistry at Marquette University in Milwaukee for several years, but in 1973, he began his long love affair with Africa, moving to Benin City, Nigeria, where he taught chemistry and served as a chaplain at the University of Benin for the next 16 years. Fr. Dundon taught chemistry at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, from 1990 to 1992, before returning to Nigeria for another five years as a university pastor in Benin City. From 1997 to 2003, he taught the philosophy of science to young African Jesuits at Arrupe College in Harare, Zimbabwe. After three years as pastor of St. Benedict the Moor Parish in Omaha, Fr. Dundon returned to Nigeria, where he served as a pastor in several Jesuit parishes from 2006 to 2014. In 2009, he was officially transcribed to the North-West Africa Province. Declining health led him to return to the Wisconsin Province in 2014, and he became a very active member of the St. Camillus Jesuit Community until his death.
Fr. Dundon was very much a missionary Jesuit, devoting most of his life to teaching and pastoral service in Africa. As a Jesuit scientist, he was concerned with relating Christian faith to the pressing issues raised by contemporary scientific research. He had wonderful insights and loved living and working with other Jesuits and growing close to the students he served in Africa. Fr. Dundon lived simply and dealt easily with a broad variety of people. He was a kind and gentle person.