Brother Michael Robert Laux, OSB


Monk of Saint John's Abbey
Collegeville, Minnesota

Born: June 7, 1928
Professed: April 6, 1948
Died:  February 9, 2007


Robert Laux was born on June 7, 1928, in Menasha, Wisconsin, to Alexander and Apolonia (Hardt) Laux. He was the fourth of five children in a family that was devoted to service in the church and religious life. His oldest brother Harold married, but his brother Donald became a priest and two sisters, Marie and Michael Marie, professed vows with the School Sisters of Notre Dame. Robert attended St. Mary's elementary and secondary schools in Menasha where he earned a high school diploma in 1946. Before coming to Saint John's, Robert worked for the Kimberly Clark Corporation at its headquarters in Neenah, Wisconsin.

The associate pastor at his parish, Father Richert, spoke to Robert about Saint John's Abbey.  Robert arrived for his first visit on September 1, 1946. He liked what he saw, and he entered the novitiate in March 1947. Abbot Alcuin Deutsch OSB gave him the religious name of Michael. Brother Michael professed first vows as a Benedictine monk on April 6, 1948.

Brother Michael's first job as a candidate had taken him to the paint shop. In the novitiate, he began work in the garden and greenhouse. In 1954 Brother Michael was assigned to Saint Mary's Red Lake Mission where he helped in numerous and various ways for over 20 years. For a two-year assignment, he was sent in 1972 to serve as a prefect in the school at San Antonio Abad in Humacao, Puerto Rico.

Brother Michael's six foot two inch height made him a natural choice for the position of security officer at Saint John's University when the office became vacant in 1975. Michael advanced to become the first Director of Life Safety Services for the university, serving from 1980 to 1992. As is usual with such a position, he was sworn in as a Deputy Sheriff of Stearns County.

On the occasion of Brother Michael's retirement, Brother Dietrich Reinhart OSB, president of Saint John's University, wrote, "Brother Michael has served Saint John's extraordinarily well as Director of Life Safety Services, building a much-needed program for us all. In dealing with both the mundane run-of-things and quick-breaking crises, Brother Michael has shown patience, decency and common sense.... We owe him a great debt of gratitude."

According to Brother Michael, Saint John's had a comparatively lower crime rate than anywhere he had been: "We are thankful that the student body is as calm and well-behaved as it is.... Also, we are blessed that we are isolated in the countryside for that decreases the problems with outsiders."

From 1992 to 2004 Brother Michael served as the transportation director for both the Saint John's Health Services and for the abbey's Saint Raphael Hall, the retirement center. Brother Damian Rogers OSB arranged for the health services to use a large and roomy Chrysler for transporting the sick and elderly to the doctor or hospital. Many monks were envious of Michael being able to drive the only car in the fleet with such posh leather upholstery and comfortable extras. After twelve years of service, Brother Michael had to conclude his driving career because of failing eyesight and health.

Always fond of the outdoors, Brother Michael loved to visit and work at our cabins in northern Minnesota. He enjoyed observing wildlife, and he offered generous hospitality daily to the many guests who visited the bird feeder at the window of his room. He was an avid Ham radio operator. The advent of the Internet eased communication with the thousands of people he had contacted over the airwaves, but he also used a traditional apparatus until the last transmission from KØSXPshortly before his death.

After battling severe illness bravely and patiently for several years, Brother Michael finally moved into the health center as a resident. He was the first all night care-taker for the Abbey's dog, Ashley. Michael was steadfast in giving or arranging for Ashley's morning constitutional.

Brother Michael died on Friday, February 9, 2007, in Saint Raphael Hall, the retirement center at Saint John's Abbey. He is survived by two sisters, Sister Michael Marie SSND and Sister Marie Leclerc SSND, both of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated for Brother Michael at 3 p.m. on Monday, February 12, 2007, 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, Michael, to your prayers.

Abbot John Klassen OSB and the monks of Saint John's Abbey.