Father Charles Henry, OSB


Monk of Newark Abbey
Newark, New Jersey

Born: 23 March 1923
Professed: 11 July 1948
Ordained: 24 June, 1953
Died: 17 June, 2012

William Henry was born the fourth of five children of John and Rose (Kraker) Henry. His father ran a drug store, and later entered the banking business and then became the local postmaster in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

After attending the parish school of St. Mary's, St. Cloud, William enrolled in St. Cloud Cathedral High School, graduating in 1941. William then enrolled at Saint John's University, Collegeville, Minnesota, but after the start of World War II, he left college to go into the Army Air Force for training in meteorology. In January 1945, he was deployed overseas serving in the Philippines and New Guinea. After he was discharged in February 1946, William returned to St. John's to resume his academic studies.

In July 1947, William entered the novitiate at Saint John's Abbey receiving the name of Charles. Charles made his profession of vows as a Benedictine monk on July 11, 1948. During his clericate years, Charles served as a driver for Abbot Alcuin Deutsch, OSB. In 1950, Charles, accompanied by his confrere Callistus Edie, was sent to Sant' Anselmo Benedictine College in Rome for theological studies.

Father Charles was ordained to the priesthood on June 24, 1953, at the Abbey of Monte Cassino and celebrated his first Mass at Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. The following year he completed his S.T.L. degree. Returning to the United States, he continued his studies at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. receiving a doctorate in Canon Law. Further studies and formation included an academic year in Christian ethics at Cambridge University in England.

Father Charles taught theology at Saint John's University until 1957, when he was sent to St. Maur's Priory, a foundation of Saint John's Abbey, in South Union, Kentucky, to teach moral theology and canon law there. When St. Maur's Seminary was moved to Indianapolis in 1967, Father Charles continued teaching until it closed in 1975. Father Charles then turned his attention to health care ministry, pursuing clinical pastoral education at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C. He moved into training and certification as C.P.E. supervisor at Georgetown University Hospital, where he served as a chaplain from 1976-1982. From 1982-2002, Father Charles worked as a chaplain at St. Vincent's Hospital in Indianapolis. During much of this time, he also served as prior of the St. Maur's community.

When the Indianapolis community was reduced from a conventual to a dependent priory and legally attached to Newark Abbey, Father Charles became a monk of that house. The Indianapolis community was disbanded altogether in 2002. Subsequently he came back to St. Cloud with the blessing of the Newark community. In St. Cloud he served for some years in the spiritual care department of the St. Cloud Hospital, while residing at Benedict Village.

Father Charles died on Sunday, June 17, 2012, in the retirement center at Saint John's Abbey, Collegeville, Minnesota. On Thursday, June 21, 2012, the Mass of Christian Burial and interment rite will be held at Saint John's Abbey Church and Cemetery, according to his wishes.

He is survived by his brother Bob, many nieces and nephews who live in the areas of St. Cloud, Rochester, Duluth and on both coasts, as well as his monastic brothers at Newark Abbey.

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, Charles, to your prayers.

Abbot Melvin Valvano OSB
and the monks of Newark Abbey

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