29 Mar, 2023

PAJU Statement On The Passing Of Father Robert Assaly

Bruce Katz

It is with heavy heart that PAJU notes the passing of Father Robert Assaly on March 26, 2023. Father Assaly. The following statement from Canadian Friends of Sabeel points to Fr. Assaly’s unwavering support for justice for the Palestinian people:

Dear Friends of Sabeel,

It is with great sorrow that we share with you the sad news of Father Robert Assaly’s passing. He left us, this March 26th Sunday morning. His wife, Nancy, sent us a message saying: “Robert has passed and is no longer suffering.  He is resting in peace.”

As an atheist young man who became a self-made millionaire stockbroker at the age of twenty-four, Father Robert had a calling to become a devout Christian Anglican Priest. Later, his beliefs led him to the Roman Catholic Church where he was ordained and became the only Catholic Priest in Montreal to have a wife and six children. Father Robert Assaly was a hard working man who never feared to take the road less travelled. His faith made him a beacon of light for all those who knew him.


In the 1990’s Robert served for many years in Jerusalem with his family, one of his many roles being Vicar of Gaza.  During that time Robert came to know Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek, Canon of the Cathedral in Jerusalem and Pastor of the Arab worship community.  Robert was a friend and supporter to Assis Naim and the organization he founded, Sabeel.  During those years Robert also met Monica Lambton who was serving as a volunteer with Sabeel, the first Canadian to do so.

After the return home to Canada of Robert and Monica, they collaborated with several others to co-found Canadian Friends of Sabeel (CFOS) in Ottawa in 1998, joining other international Friends groups of Sabeel.  Robert was CFOS’s first chair and he stayed in that role until 2020, when he assumed the role of Past Chair and Co-Founder.  Until his death he had continued to remain active in several CFOS programs and activities.

Father Robert planned many trips to Palestine, including a Youth Exchange with the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa. He remained in solidarity with Justice and Peace in the Holy Land throughout his varied career as a pastor and theology student.  He often quoted Naim Ateek who told a group Robert was accompanying, ‘Now that you have heard the truth, you are stuck with it.’  We named our first CFOS video, which featured Robert leading a solidarity trip, ‘Stuck with the Truth’. 

Father Robert leaves behind his wife Nancy and children, Kristy, Ben, Justin, Bishara, Janan and Fedi, as well as his siblings and his mother, Gloria, along with countless friends and colleagues. Robert will be greatly missed at CFOS for his long term of service, his hours of dedicated work, his unfailing commitment and his passion to see justice reign.  He was a true friend to many.  Rest in peace, Father Robert.

Please join us in prayer for Father Robert Assaly, may he rest in peace, and may God give his family the strength and courage they need to make it through these difficult times.

To Sabeel’s statement, PAJU adds the following:

Fr. Robert Assaly was an inspiration to many in his commitment to justice and freedom for the Palestinian people. We have lost a comrade in the struggle whose voice and presence will be sorely missed by all those in the Palestine solidarity community. May he rest in peace and may his memory last forever.

To celebrate his memory and legacy, let’s remember Nelson Mandela’s words:

“Death is something inevitable. When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can sit in peace. I believe I have made that effort and that is, therefore, why I will sleep for eternity.”

Wake and Funeral Service for Fr. Robert Assaly, March 31 and April 1:

Friday, March 31, 2023

 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.  Visitation

7p.m. – 9 p.m.  Prayers and Visitation

Saturday, April 1, 2023

10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.  Visitation

11:30 a.m.  Funeral Service

All are invited for a reception following the service

St. Thomas Moore Church

980 rue Moffat, Verdun, Québec  H4H 1Y9

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