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Chicago, IL (January 27, 2009) - Fr. Rollins E. Lambert, former pastor of St. Dorothy Parish on Chicago’s south side, and the first African-American to be ordained for the Archdiocese of Chicago, died on Sunday, January 25, at Holy Family Villa in Palos Heights, where he had been in residence. He was 86 years old.

Fr. Lambert was a Chicago native of both African-American and Cherokee Indian heritage. He attended Chicago public elementary and secondary schools and earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago, where he converted to Catholicism while studying political science. He graduated from the University of St. Mary of the Lake / Mundelein Seminary in 1949.

In that year, he was ordained by Samuel Cardinal Stritch and began an eight-year assignment as assistant pastor of St. Malachy Parish on the west side. He was named assistant pastor of St. Dorothy Parish in 1957, serving there for four years. For seven years, beginning in 1961, Fr. Lambert was the assistant director of the Newman apostolate at Calvert House on the campus of the University of Chicago. He returned there for a two-year stint as director from 1970 until 1972. In the period between the Calvert House assignments, Fr. Lambert returned to the south side, first as pastor of St. James Parish on Wabash for a year, then as pastor of St. Dorothy Parish for two years.

In 1975, Fr. Lambert was made an advisor on African Affairs for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Social Development and World Peace Department. He served in this Washington, D.C. post until 1987. He followed this with successive one-year terms in Archdiocesan offices, first as director of the Office of Human Relations and then as associate director of Community Services.

From 1988 until his retirement in 1991, Fr. Lambert served as a Dean in Vicariate VI, a geographical area covering Chicago’s south side and south suburbs, with residence at St. Joseph Parish in Homewood.

Very Rev. Thad Jakubowski, Retired Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago, will be the main celebrant at a Memorial Mass for Fr. Lambert at 11 a.m. on Saturday, February 14, at Holy Family Villa, 12220 S. Will-Cook Rd. in Palos Park. Fr. Eugene Hemrick, a priest of the Diocese of Joliet and a friend of Fr. Lambert, will be the homilist. Internment will be in Holy Cross Cemetery in Calumet City. There are no immediate survivors.

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