Monsignor Robert Armstrong served as rector of the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen for 25 years. (CR File)
Monsignor Robert Armstrong (center) is shown at a Mass in the Holy Land during a 2010 pilgrimage. (CR File)
After Monsignor Armstrong studied at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Cardinal Lawrence Shehan ordained him to the priesthood in 1962 inside the cathedral the priest would one day lead.
Monsignor Armstrong taught religion at Seton High School in Baltimore and was the chaplain of the Maryland Training School for Boys. He was an associate pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary in Baynesville and served as associate director and director of the archdiocesan Office of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine.
In the late 1970s, Monsignor Armstrong assisted at the South Baltimore parishes of Holy Cross; St. Mary, Star of the Sea and Our Lady of Good Counsel, and was the master of ceremonies for Cardinal Shehan and Auxiliary Bishop T. Austin Murphy.
The priest was named pastor of St. Michael in Overlea in 1978 and rector of the cathedral in 1984.
In a 2009 interview with the Catholic Review, Monsignor Armstrong said he loved each of his assignments. He especially enjoyed celebrating Mass and being present with parishioners for special moments. He was touched when then-Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien referred to him as “the indomitable, irrepressible Monsignor Robert Armstrong” during a 2009 Mass celebrating the 50th anniversary of the cathedral. The comment sparked a standing ovation that lasted several minutes.
An even greater honor came in 2010 when Monsignor Armstrong was named Protonotary Apostolic Supranumerary, a rare and high papal honor and the highest grade of monsignor. At the time, Monsignor Armstrong was the first in the Archdiocese of Baltimore to receive the designation in approximately three decades, according to Monsignor Hilgartner.