Msgr. Robert A. Bozel

Msgr. Robert Albert Bozel, a retired pastor of a Howard County parish recalled for his voluminous correspondence with friends and members of his congregation, died of pneumonia Saturday at Stella Maris Hospice. He was 88.

Born in Baltimore and raised in Hamilton, he attended St. Dominic's School.

"He was from a large family that included vocations to the religious life," said a friend, Msgr. George B. Moeller of Timonium. "He was a warm and personable guy who tried to spread that happiness. He was famous for sending his greeting cards."

He attended the old St. Charles High School and St. Charles College in Catonsville before he entered St. Mary's Seminary in Roland Park. There he earned a bachelor's degree in sacred theology. Archbishop Francis P. Keough ordained him into the priesthood in 1948; after his ordination he worked for the archbishop as secretary.

He then became a curate at St. John's Parish in Frederick and was later assigned to St. Edward's Church on Poplar Grove Street in West Baltimore. He was subsequently director of the Archdiocesan Family Life Bureau and chaplain at Stella Maris Hospice in Timonium.

He taught at the old St. Paul's Latin School in East Baltimore and was an associate pastor at St. Elizabeth Parish in Patterson Park. He then served at St. Francis de Chantal Parish in Riviera Beach and at Holy Trinity Parish in Glen Burnie. In 1973, he enrolled in the Institute for Continuing Education at the North American College in Rome and completed studies there.

He was appointed a temporary administrator for St. Augustine's Church in Elkridge and held the post until he was named pastor of St. Michael's Parish in Poplar Springs in May 1976. Friends said the church, in western Howard County, served people living in three other counties: Carroll, Frederick and Montgomery.

In his 12 years at St. Michael's, Monsignor Bozel oversaw construction of a new church.

"He came to a little church that seated 88 people and when he left he had built a new complex with 1,500 families," said a friend, Jim Myers of Mount Airy. "He had a mind for names. He met you once and had your name forever. He had a gift for working with people. Twenty years after he had left the parish he was still sending anniversary and birthday cards to people he had known as their pastor."

"He literally built the parish by the force of his personality," said a nephew, Maurice Bozel of Towson. "He was a modern-day Pied Piper. People followed him. He was also a good financial manager and burned his mortgages. But people remember him as the prolific writer he was."

The church's present pastor, the Rev. Michael J. Ruane, said Monsignor Bozel created a "warm and welcoming church environment" and was "all about warmth and kindness."

He remained at St. Michael's until he was again appointed a temporary administrator, this time for St. Lawrence Parish in Woodlawn. In 1988, he was appointed director of the Office of Pastoral Services to Senior and Retired Priests. He retired in 1994.

He was elevated to the rank of monsignor, or prelate to the pope, in 1993. He was also a member of the Archdiocesan Priests' Council and the Personnel Board.

A Mass of Christian burial will be held at noon Wednesday at St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church, 101 Church Lane in Cockeysville.

In addition to his nephew, survivors include three sisters, Sister Rita Bozel and Sister Mary Ann Bozel, both members of the Daughters of Charity in Emmitsburg, and Ann Delaney of Tampa, Fla.; and 14 other nieces and nephews.

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