Charles Strobel Obituary: The city of Nashville is mourning the loss of one of its most beloved advocates for the homeless and underprivileged, Father Charles Strobel, who passed away on Sunday at the age of 80. Father Strobel devoted over 50 years of his life to uplifting those in need through his pioneering work with the homeless shelter organization Room In The Inn. His compassionate spirit and tireless dedication to serving the vulnerable left an indelible mark on the Nashville community.
Early Life and Priesthood
Born in Nashville in 1943, Charlie Strobel discovered his calling to the priesthood while attending Father Ryan High School. He was ordained as a Catholic priest in 1969 at the age of 26. During his 53 years of ministry, Father Strobel served as an associate pastor and pastor at various parishes across Middle Tennessee. He is remembered by those he served as a humble and kind shepherd who formed strong bonds with people from all walks of life.
Founding of Room In The Inn
In the winter of 1986, Father Strobel received word that homeless individuals were dying of exposure to the cold on the streets of Nashville. He responded by opening up the gymnasium of the Downtown Catholic Church to provide shelter on freezing nights. This was the genesis of Room In The Inn (RITI), a nonprofit that has grown into the largest homeless shelter program in Nashville. Under Father Strobel’s leadership as founding director, RITI mobilized over 7,000 volunteers to provide meals, case management services, and safe shelter to those in need.
Advocacy for the Homeless Population
Far more than just a shelter provider, Father Strobel was a fierce advocate for the dignity and rights of the homeless. He understood that the root causes of homelessness stemmed from lack of affordable housing, unemployment, mental illness, and addictions. Father Strobel pushed for more comprehensive solutions by building connections between government agencies, homeless service providers, and the faith community. “The goal is to put ourselves out of business,” he often said regarding RITI’s work.
A Passion for Service and Inclusion
At the core of Father Strobel’s mission was a belief in the sacred value of all human life, regardless of social status. “He treated each person he met as the image of God,” said Reverend J. Mark Spalding of the Nashville Diocese. The communal meals provided at Room In The Inn shelters were referred to as “The Communion Meal” in order to honor the sharing of a meal between equals. Father Strobel’s ability to unite people across divides of religion, ethnicity, and class was a testament to his wisdom and integrity.
Awards and Recognition
During his decades of service to Nashville’s homeless population, Father Strobel received numerous accolades for his tireless efforts. Among his many honors were the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Nashville Chapter of the ACLU in 2012, the Catholic Charities Annual Service Award in 2002, and the Father Ryan Legacy Award in 2021 from his high school alma mater. Father Strobel accepted such awards with characteristic humility, always deflecting praise back onto the volunteers and homeless individuals who inspired him with their resilience.
Remembrances from the Nashville Community
The news of Father Charles Strobel’s passing at age 80 has elicited an outpouring of remembrances and tributes from across Nashville. Mayor John Cooper spoke for many when he stated that “his lifelong advocacy for the poor and homeless was a shining example to all of us.” The Room In The Inn that Father Strobel founded expressed their gratitude “for his life and for his legacy,” saying his dedication to service was “an inspiration to us all.” Father Strobel’s friend Reverend J. Mark Spalding perhaps summed it up best by simply stating, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Conclusion – (charles strobel obituary | father charles strobel )
The legacy of Father Charles Strobel is visible on the streets of Nashville every night through the lives of the homeless men, women, and children who are sheltered and fed through the organization he founded. By directly ministering to the “least of these” members of society, Father Strobel embodied the social justice message at the heart of his Christian faith. Though he has passed, his spirit of compassion for those in need lives on. The city he called home for over 80 years owes him a debt of heartfelt gratitude.