Fr. Bob Binta, St. Benedict's pastor, succumbs to cancer

Posted: August 22, 2018 / Source: Ahwatukee Foothills News

Fr. Bob Binta, pastor of The Parish of St. Benedict’s Church in Ahwatukee, died Sunday night after a battle with cancer.

“He was a beacon of light and source of inspiration for all who knew him,” the Phoenix Catholic Diocese said in a release. “He fully lived the motto, ‘God is Good All the Time...All the Time, God is Good,’ throughout his entire life.”

Fr. Robert Isingoma Binta Amooti was born on April 14, 1962, together with his twin sister, Aphra, in Karambi, Burahya, Uganda, and was one of 12 children.

A diocese spokesman said he had the desire to become a priest at a young age and “woke up very early in the morning to run five miles to serve at Mass as an altar boy. Close friends and family saw in Fr. Bob a hunger to serve God and urged him to explore that gift by encouraging him to join the seminary.”

He was ordained on Aug. 31, 1991 at Virika Cathedral after obtaing bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and theology from The Pontificia Urbaniana University in Rome.

Following ordination, Fr. Bob was sent to the University of Notre Dame for his MBA, where, a spokesman said, “He will forever be known for his loyalty and love of the Fighting Irish.”

Following Notre Dame, he returned to Uganda to serve as treasury general for the Fort Portal Diocese and financial administrator for the Uganda Episcopal Conference in Kampala.

In 2008, Fr. Bob requested to return to the USA and was placed at St. Paul’s parish as parochial vicar. He arrived in the Diocese of Phoenix in May 2012, and was appointed pastor of St. Benedict Parish and St. John Bosco Catholic School in 2013.

He became an American citizen in 2015 and the following year celebrated 25 years in the priesthood by being invited to meet Pope Francis in Rome. While there, he concelebrated Mass with the Pope in his private chapel.

Later that year, his hometown in Uganda hosted a three-day celebration in which more than 700 people gathered together to pay tribute to him.

Fr. Binta passed away before he could see the realization of a dream for his parish: opening a permanent church on the 48th Street site where St. Benedict’s is located.

Several months ago, parishioners began a fundraising campaign with the goal of raising $7 million toward its construction and an opening date of Christmas of next year.

Fr. Binta was preceded in death by his mother, Lucia (2005), and father, Dr. Paul Binta (1986). He is survived by his four brothers, seven sisters and many dear nieces and nephews.

“His joy and unwavering faith touched countless hearts throughout his life, and he is dearly loved by his parishioners at St. Paul and St. Benedict and the many St. John Bosco Catholic School children,” the diocese said. “He will be greatly missed.”

Visitation will take place at St. Benedict Parish from 5-7 p.m. tomorrow, Aug. 23. Rosary and vigil will follow at 7 p.m. A funeral Mass will be at 10 a.m. Friday at St. Francis Xavier on Central Avenue in Phoenix.

In lieu of flowers, Fr. Bob requested that any donations be made to the Living Our Faith Building Our Home building fund for the Parish of St. Benedict.

A Ugandan news site reported that Fr. Binta’s interment was still uncertain because the diocese is considering whether to allow his remains to be transported back to his native land.

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