Pallbearers carry Father Gerald Robinson's casket from his funeral service today at St. Hyacinth Church in Toledo.
At the same church where he celebrated his first Mass as a newly ordained Catholic priest, family members, supporters, and fellow priests gathered today for the funeral of the man believed to be the first Catholic priest convicted of killing a nun.
Gerald Robinson was found guilty by a jury in Lucas County Common Pleas Court in 2006 of murder for the April 5, 1980, slaying of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl. The 71-year-old Sister of Mercy nun was strangled, then stabbed 31 times in the sacristy of the chapel at the former Mercy Hospital.
More than 200 people filled the pews of St. Hyacinth Church for the funeral Mass for the priest.
“Father Robinson for many years carried a heavy burden. Whether or not it was a burden of guilt or a burden of a miscarriage of justice, I do not know,” said the Rev. Charles Ritter, administrator of the Diocese of Toledo. “We do not know. Either way, that burden is lifted for him now.”
Father Ritter officiated at Robinson's funeral Mass, where the Rev. Thomas J. Extejt, pastor of St. Anthony Church in Columbus Grove, delivered the homily, also speaking of Robinson‘s conviction and imprisonment.
Mourners enter St. Hyacinth Catholic Church early today for Father Gerald Robinson's funeral.
“We‘re not here to accuse or excuse,” Father Extejt said, but just to offer prayers to Robinson’s family and the Sisters of Mercy.
Priests and deacons from across the diocese were seated at the front of church. Sisters — some in traditional habits — also attended the funeral.
Robinson, 76, remained a priest after his conviction but was barred from performing public ministry. He died July 4 at Franklin Medical Center in Columbus while serving a 15-year to life sentence for the crime.
Born in Toledo in 1938 and ordained in 1964, Robinson was to be buried at Calvary Cemetery. His death came a day after a federal court judge denied his motion to be released from the prison hospital to come home to spend his final days with his brother and sister-in-law in Toledo.