Archimandrite Father Robert Taft was born in Providence, Rhode Island (USA) on 9 January 1932, son of the late James and Katherine (McGrath) Taft. He came from a family distantly related to the Ohio Tafts, a well-known political family, making him a cousin of the 37th President of the United States and tenth Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, William H. Taft.
The American Jesuit priest and scholar was elevated to the dignity of Archimandrite by the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in 1998, entitling him to the use of miter and crozier, in recognition of his status as the greatest living scholar on Eastern Christian liturgies at the time, writing for a largely Western audience.
From 1975 to 2011, Taft researched and wrote voluminously at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome. His six-tome A History of the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom is considered by many experts to be the definitive work on the subject.
Father Taft was well known for his great learning and global reach, being above all a man of prayer who was “liturgically formed” by his studies and teaching. His classes were demanding but were famous for his wit and dry humor.
Father Taft died on 2 November 2018 at the Weston Jesuit community, where he had studied 60 years ago and had lived for the past several years. His funeral Mass is to be celebrated on 12 November 2018 at Holy Spirit Chapel, Weston, Massachusetts (USA), on the memorial feast of Saint Josaphat Kuntsevych, bishop and martyr, the first canonized Eastern Catholic to have a feast day on the General Roman Calendar. Father Taft is to be buried in the Jesuit Cemetery in Weston. We commend Archimandrite Father Robert Taft to your prayers for his peaceful repose in the Risen Lord.