Brother Gregory Luverne Eibensteiner, OSB
Monk of Saint John's Abbey
Born: 10 January 1934
Professed: 15 August 1952
Died: 11 April 2013
Luverne John Eibensteiner was born in Meire Grove, Minnesota, on January 10, 1934, to Joseph and Anna (Kampsen) Eibensteiner. He was the youngest of 12 children who grew up on the family farm. Luverne attended the local district public school #61 of Stearns County in Melrose, Minnesota, where he graduated in 1948. He became acquainted with Saint John's Abbey through Father Joseph Kreuter OSB (1883-1963) who was the pastor of Saint John the Baptist Parish in Meire Grove and his sister, Lavonne, who was a Benedictine Sister at Saint Benedict's Monastery in Saint Joseph, Minnesota. Luverne arrived at Saint John's as a candidate on February 11, 1951, and entered the novitiate in August 1951 receiving the religious name of Gregory. Brother Gregory made his first vows as a Benedictine monk on August 15, 1952.
After taking vows, Brother Gregory was appointed to work in the Abbey carpenter shop, having first learned to work with wood on the family farm which had 50 acres of woodland. Under the direction of Brother Hubert Schneider OSB (1902-1995), master carpenter, and fellow native of Meire Grove, Brother Gregory learned his woodworking skills. "I think I was placed there because the abbot wanted me to feel welcome in the community and I already knew Brother Hubert from back home," Brother Gregory remarked.
After his initial six years in the carpenter shop, Brother Gregory was sent to Saint Mary's Indian Mission in Red Lake, Minnesota, as a repair and maintenance worker from 1957 to 1963, joining his confrere and friend Brother Michael Laux, OSB (1928-2007). In 1963, he was transferred to Saint Benedict's Indian Mission in White Earth, Minnesota, also to do repair and maintenance work. He returned to Red Lake in 1970 to help for five more years before he was sent to Saint Anselm's parish in the Bronx, New York, in 1975 for a year to do repair work for the parish house and plant under the direction of pastor Father Burton Bloms OSB. It was a different experience for Brother Gregory working in a crowded urban city after so many years in the northern woods of Minnesota, but he enjoyed it.
Brother Gregory returned to Saint John's in 1976, working under Brother David Manahan until he was made Director of the newly named woodworking department in 1977. About his tenure with woodworking Brother Gregory simply said: "I liked working there. It was very nice. There was always work to do. When I first started, one of my worries was keeping busy, but that never happened."
Always fond of the outdoors and nature, Brother Gregory enjoyed hunting and fishing, collecting stamps, and working with the Purple Martin Project to attract the endangered birds to the Saint John's campus. Brother Gregory built bird feeders and gourd nests for purple martins and was featured in May 2011 on the KARE 11 television program "Minnesota Bound."
Brother Gregory's wood furnishings can be seen in every part of the Saint John's Campus from Sexton Commons to student dorm rooms in the residence halls. Whether it is a chair, a desk, a table, a bed or a cabinet, if it is made out of wood, chances are it was made in the woodshop that Brother Gregory oversaw. Brother Gregory also regularly assisted in maintaining and caring for the abbey lake cabins.
Brother Gregory was given a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Abbey Woodworking Shop in 2005 for his over 30 years of creative and dedicated leadership at Saint John's Abbey Woodworking.
After retiring, Brother Gregory continued to attend evening prayer services as he was able, having contracted Parkinson's disease. Brother Gregory died on Thursday, April 11 in the retirement center at Saint John's Abbey. He is survived by Vern (Werner) Eibensteiner (brother), Donna Nathe (niece), John Stalboerger (nephew), many other nieces and nephews, and the community at Saint John's Abbey. The monks, family, and friends will celebrate the Mass of Christian Burial for Brother Gregory on Tuesday, April 16, at 3:30 PM in Saint John's Abbey Church with interment in Saint John's Cemetery following the service.
We ask each community member to offer two Masses according to the manner of his participation in the priesthood of Christ. We commend our brother, Gregory, to your prayers.
Abbot John Klassen OSB
and the monks of Saint John's Abbey.