Father Mathias Spier, OSB


Monk of Saint John's Abbey
Collegeville, Minnesota

Born: 5 August 1931
Professed: 11 July 1952
Ordained: 7 June 1958
Died: 18 January 2010


Arnold Joseph Spier was the fourth of six children born to John Henry and Genieve Frances (Schmeing) Spier in Freeport, Minnesota, on August 5, 1931. Arnold attended Sacred Heart Elementary School in Freeport from 1937 to 1945.

Beginning already in the sixth grade, Arnold felt that he had a vocation to the priesthood. Father Celestine Kapsner, OSB (1892-1973), gave a talk on vocations to the boys at the school that strengthened his vocational desire, and after graduation he applied to Saint John's Preparatory School in 1945. After an initial homesickness, Arnold got involved in intramural football and enjoyed the educational experience at the prep school. It was during his prep school days that he found himself attracted to Benedictine life. Abbot Alcuin Deutsch, OSB, was very encouraging to Arnold as was his English teacher, Father Cuthbert (Gregory) Soukup, OSB (1914-2003).

After graduation from the prep school, Arnold entered Saint John's University. After two years of academic studies, Arnold applied for the novitiate at Saint John's Abbey in 1951 and was given the name of Mathias. Completing the novitiate, Mathias professed vows as a Benedictine monk on July 11, 1952. He obtained a BA in philosophy in 1954 and began his four years of priesthood studies at Saint John's Seminary. Father Mathias was ordained to the priesthood on June 7, 1958. After his ordination, he was appointed associate pastor at Seven Dolors Church in Albany, Minnesota (1958-67). From there he was assigned to St. Bernard's parish in St. Paul where he was associate pastor (1967-73) and a part-time chaplain at St. Bernard's High School (1969-73). In July of 1973, Father Mathias was appointed pastor of Holy Name of Jesus parish in Medina, Minnesota (1973-79). At Holy Name, Father Mathias oversaw the liturgical renovation of the church. Looking to the future, he successfully promoted the expansion of the city of Plymouth's sewer and water lines to the parish plant.

In August of 1979, Father Mathias returned to Stearns County and became pastor of SS Peter and Paul Church in Richmond, Minnesota, where he implemented the liturgical and pastoral decrees of the Second Vatican Council. To honor the 100th anniversary of the church building in 1985, he built an outdoor shrine designed by Brother Placid Stuckenschneider, OSB (1926-2007).

After his six-year tenure as pastor in Richmond, Father Mathias took a half-year sabbatical in Rome from August 1985 to January 1986. During this time he participated in a renewal program, visited the Holy Land, and toured Austria and Germany. Upon his return to the United States, Father Mathias was appointed chaplain at St. Therese Home in New Hope, Minnesota. In 1986 Father Mathias was appointed associate pastor of St. Joseph's parish in St. Joseph, Minnesota, where he worked on community history and developed the local community food shelf.

In July 1989 Father Mathias was appointed pastor of St. Boniface Church in northeast Minneapolis. He had the rectory remodeled so that fellow Benedictines could come there to stay while doing business in the Twin Cities or catching a flight from the airport. After his tenure at St. Boniface, Father Mathias returned to St. Therese Home in New Hope as chaplain (1998-2001). In July 2002 he became the chaplain of Assumption Nursing Home in Cold Spring, Minnesota, and then, beginning in 2003, pastor of St. James parish, Jacobs Prairie, Minnesota. Father Mathias returned to Saint John's Abbey in July 2005 to retire. During his retirement, he assisted with various jobs around the abbey and enjoyed reading and driving his electric cart on campus during sunny days. Father Mathias had a wry sense of humor and was always willing to give a quick comment on any topic.

Father Mathias died on January 18, 2010, in the retirement center at Saint John's Abbey. He is survived by his sister, Alice Anton, and her husband, Clem, of Marshall, Minnesota; many nieces and nephews; brother-in-law Ambrose Reller and his wife, Jan, of Melrose, Minnesota; many cousins, including Mrs. Harold Viola Marcoe, of Washington State; and the community at Saint John's Abbey. The monks, family, and friends will celebrate the Mass of Christian Burial for Father Mathias on January 22, 2010, in Saint John's Abbey Church. Interment in Saint John's Cemetery follows 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, Mathias, to your prayers.

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