Brother Paul David Fitt, OSB
Monk of Saint John's Abbey
Born: December 8, 1945
Professed: July 11, 1972
Died: June 2, 2016
Paul David Fitt was born on December 8, 1945, the second son of Joseph and Marie (Weglarz) Fitt Ehmke in Chicago, Illinois. Paul’s older brother, Joseph, died in July, 1998, at the age of 57. Paul attended elementary school (1951-59) in his Polish parish Saint Turibius and then enrolled at Brother Rice High School where he graduated in 1963. After graduation from high school, Paul without ever having visited the campus, matriculated at Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota in the fall of 1963, where he majored in chemistry with minors in mathematics and secondary education. During his undergraduate years, he worked as a student assistant in the Registrar’s Office. Paul graduated with a BS degree in 1967.
Following graduation from Saint John’s University, Paul became a science instructor at the Melrose Junior High School, Melrose, Minnesota, from 1967-1969. During the summers, he enrolled in graduate study programs in science, funded by the National Science Foundation at Beaver College, Glenside, Pennsylvania (1968) and Nebraska Wesleyan University (1969). In August 1969, Paul became an admissions counselor for Saint John’s University, traveling extensively in the Midwest, interviewing and recruiting prospective students, and assisting in the evaluation of transfer student records. Responding to a call to religious life, Paul applied for the novitiate at Saint John’s Abbey. The eight men in the novitiate class of 1971-1972 included Brother James Linn, OSB, (†1974), Brother Linus Ascheman, OSB, (†2007), Brother Dietrich Reinhart, OSB (†2008), and Abbot John Klassen, OSB. During his novitiate, Brother Paul worked part-time as a computer programmer for the Saint John’s Admissions Office. Brother Paul professed vows as a Benedictine monk on July 11, 1972.
Following profession, Brother Paul was appointed the coordinator of data processing for the Saint John’s Office of Admissions. He developed the initial automated student recruiting system from the outdated manual system. Brother Paul was then appointed assistant director of Financial Aid (1973-1974) and then acting director (1974-1975). From 1975-1977, he attended Oregon State University where he received an M. Ed. in Higher Education Administration with a minor in computer science.
Returning to Saint John’s in 1977, Brother Paul was appointed assistant director of the Saint John’s Computing Center. He performed analysis of user needs and programmed various administrative systems during a conversion period from second generation to third generation computing equipment applying computer languages COBOL and TOTAL DBMS. Brother Paul also taught programming courses to undergraduate students (1977-1980).
In 1980, Brother Paul was appointed the director of the Administrative Computing Center, Saint John’s University, managing the overall administrative computing resources of the institution, where he established standards and procedures in a previously unstructured environment. Brother Paul was appointed senior systems analyst of the Administrative Computing Center in 1989 and later became the senior project leader for Information Technology Services. In 1991, Brother Paul received an award from Student Information System Users for presenting one of the five best software presentations allowing his rapid report writing against a large collegiate admission’s database. Brother Paul retired from IT services in 2007. Assisted residential life with student disciplinary issues and IT records from 2008-‘09. He then assisted the Saint John’s Abbey Business Office with health care financing until 2011.
For almost 30 years, Brother Paul served as a Faculty Resident at Saint John’s University in Saint Mary Hall, Saint Thomas Aquinas Hall, Saint Patrick Hall, Saint Bernard Hall, Vincent and Metten Court. He also served as a member of the Board of Regents of Saint John’s University, a member of the Senior Council of the monastery, and served on numerous in-house committees.
In August 2012, Brother Paul underwent quadruple bypass surgery and his health continued to decline. Brother Paul will be remembered for his forty years of monastic presence and commitment of service to Saint John’s; for his wry and ironic sense of humor, his enjoyment of storytelling, his love of cooking and classical music, and his simple lifestyle.
Brother Paul died on June 2, at St. Cloud Hospital. He is survived by an aunt, Helen Milos, sister-in-law Joan Fitt, nieces Lisa Heller and Kath Morrison, nephew James Fitt, 6 great nieces and nephews, numerous cousins, and the community of Saint John’s Abbey. The monks, family, and friends will celebrate the Mass of Christian Burial for Brother Paul on June 9 in Saint John’s Abbey and University Church with interment in Saint John’s Abbey 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 Paul to your prayers.
Abbot John Klassen OSB
and the monks of Saint John’s Abbey