Longtime Tucson pastor dies at 74

Fr. Robert Tamminga served St. Francis de Sales for 36 years

Fr. Robert Tamminga, pastor of St. Francis de Sales Parish in Tucson, died shortly before 9 a.m. June 17, from a short, non-COVID related illness. Bishop Edward J. Weisenberger of Tucson celebrated his funeral Mass June 24 at the church.

Fr. Tamminga was born Dec. 12, 1945 in Chicago to Ernest and Ann Tamminga. The family moved to Tucson where he attended St. Ambrose Catholic School and Regina Cleri Seminary, where he graduated in 1963. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1967 and a Master of Divinity degree in 1971 from St. John’s Seminary College in Camarillo, California.

Bishop Francis Green ordained Fr. Tamminga as a priest for the Diocese of Tucson May 23, 1971 at St. Augustine Cathedral. Early assignments included serving as parochial vicar at Immaculate Conception Parish in Douglas, St. Odilia Parish in Oro Valley and St. Ambrose in Tucson. In 1978 Fr. Tamminga was appointed pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Safford, where he served there until becoming pastor of St. Francis de Sales in 1984.

Under his guidance, the parish developed a vibrant youth ministry program. Then Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas presented Fr. Tamminga the diocese’s St. John Paull II Distinguished Service in Youth Ministry Award for his tireless “service and commitment to the youth of the Diocese” in 2009. He also helped nurture countless other ministries in the parish from the Altar servers to the St. Vincent De Paul Society.

“Known for his quick wit and sharp intellect,” Fr. Tamminga’s life “was marked by extraordinary devotion and faithfulness,” diocesan officials said in a statement. “His love for all of God’s children was expressed through his ministry to the incarcerated and to the survivors of clergy abuse.”

In addition to parochial work, Fr. Tamminga also served the diocese on the as a member of the Diocesan Ministry to Priests Program, the Presbyteral Council and the Vocations Board and as the chaplain of the Diocesan Search Program.

He was interred at Our Lady of the Desert Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, individuals are asked to make a contribution to the St. Francis De Sales Youth Group.

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