Robot, Isidore

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Missionary, abbot; b. Tharoiseau, France, July 18, 1837; d. Dallas, Tex., Feb. 15, 1887. Robot entered the Benedictine monastery of Sainte-Marie, Pierre-qui-Vire, France, a recent foundation that emphasized Trappist-like discipline and foreign missions. He was ordained in 1862, and served as military chaplain in the Franco-Prussian War. Having left France (1873), accompanied by Brother Benedict Lambert, he was welcomed at New Orleans, La., by Abp. Napoleon Joseph Perche. While laboring briefly in northern Louisiana, Robot investigated the status of neglected native tribes. The Jesuits in Kansas informed him of the recent removal of Catholic natives, especially the Potawatomi Citizen Band, southward to Indian Territory. Bp. Edward Fitzgerald of Little Rock, Ark., authorized him to enter the territory, where no priest resided. On Oct. 12, 1875, Robot arrived at Atoka, Choctaw Nation. During early 1876 he explored the territory and held conferences with Choctaw and Potawatomi chiefs. In Sept. he received his appointment, dated July 9, 1876, as the first prefect apostolic of Indian Territory. Concluding an agreement with the Potawatomi, he selected as his headquarters the site of Sacred Heart Mission. During 1877, with the arrival of recruits from France, a monastic community, with novitiate, began activities. A school for native boys was opened and upon the arrival of nuns, a girls' school (1880). Leo XIII conferred the abbatial dignity on Robot on Sept. 1, 1878. He attended the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore, Md., in 1884 and resigned his prefecture while visiting Rome in 1885. He had laid the groundwork for the later Vicariate and Diocese of Oklahoma.

Bibliography: Annals, Sacred Heart Mission, Okla.

[j. f. murphy]