OTTAWA, Ontario, October 7, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - With both joy and sadness, the Companions of the Cross announced today the passing of their great founder Fr. Robert Bedard, CC.

Fr. Bob, who founded the dynamically-orthodox community of priests in Ottawa in 1985, passed away at 10:17 p.m. on Thursday at the age of 82.

“What a wonderful spiritual leader.  He will be greatly missed not only by his order, but also by all who cared about life and family,” said Jim Hughes, national president of Campaign Life Coalition.

“I remember him at the March for Life saying the Mass at St. Theresa’s Church before the Candlelight vigil,” said Hughes.  “It was a powerful spiritual talk that filled everyone with enthusiasm and vigor.”

Even as his health was declining, Fr. Bob insisted on attending – and marching at – the National March for Life in 2009.

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In a statement Friday, Fr. Scott McCaig, the Companions’ Moderator, described his death as “beautiful and holy.”  He says they had just celebrated a Mass for the Dying where Fr. Bob had received the Sacrament of the Sick, the Apostolic blessing, and the Eucharist, and then he passed away “as we sang hymns and prayed.”

“It is hard to describe our feelings at this time: relief that his suffering is finally over, joy that he fought the good fight and ran the race to the finish, and sadness at our deep loss. But above all we give thanks and praise to God for the amazing life of Fr. Bob and for the privilege of knowing and loving him,” wrote Fr. McCaig in a statement.  “May he rest with the Saints and Angels tonight - and in the loving mantle of our Lady and the eternal embrace of the great King he served so faithfully in this life…”

The late priest was born in Ottawa and ordained for the Archdiocese of Ottawa in 1955.  Before establishing the Companions of the Cross in 1985, he had served as a teacher and then administrator at St. Pius X High School, as well as pastor of St. Mary’s Parish.

The visitation will be at St. Mary’s Church in Ottawa on Tuesday, October 11, 2011 from 10:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. The prayer vigil will be at 7:30 p.m.

The funeral Mass, presided by Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, S.J. will be at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 12 at Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica. The prayers of the Rite of Committal will follow at Hope Cemetery.