Father Raymond Pedrizetti, OSB


Monk of Saint John's Abbey
Collegeville, Minnesota

Born: 30 August 1930
Professed: 11 July 1954
Ordained: 7 June, 1958
Died: 3 September, 2012

Raymond Pedrizetti was born on August 30, 1930, in Duluth, Minnesota, to Giovanni Angelo and Mary (Devaney) Pedrizetti, the youngest of four children. Raymond attended Saint Anthony of Padua Grade School from 1936 to 1944. At the age of 12, Raymond had a profound experience when his good friend Ed died after being struck by a car. This event affected him deeply, and he made a decision to become a priest. In 1944 Raymond enrolled in Saint John's Preparatory School in Collegeville. During his time at the prep school, he excelled in football and served as Captain of the basketball team as a senior in 1948.

After graduation, Raymond entered Saint John's University as a priesthood student in Anselm Hall. There he met a student who had been a Trappist monk for a time, and Raymond determined that he would pursue the monastic life as a Cistercian. In 1950 he applied to the Trappist monastery of Our Lady of Refuge in Chepachet, Rhode Island, and was accepted.

Raymond's initial attraction to disciplined prayer and silence began to lose its luster, and he concluded he did not belong with that order. He left the novitiate in February of 1952 and returned to Saint John's Abbey as a student. During a retreat in his sophomore year, he decided to become a Benedictine monk. The idea of a monastic life combining prayer, teaching, and study appealed to him.

Raymond entered the novitiate of Saint John's Abbey in 1953, receiving the name Anselm in honor of the great medieval philosopher/theologian. He made his profession as a Benedictine monk on July 11, 1954, then began his priesthood studies. He was ordained on June 7, 1958.

After ordination, Father Anselm began teaching as an instructor in the classics department at Saint John's University. After a year, he was sent off to study classics at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, where he received an MA degree in classics in 1961. Returning to Saint John's, he taught classics (1961-64) and served as a faculty resident in the university dormitories. Father Anselm resumed his baptismal name, Raymond (usually shortened to "Ray"), after the Second Vatican Council.

Other changes had been under way in Father Ray's life for some time. His emotional attachment to medieval language and spirituality was gradually replaced by an interest in reason and experimental psychology, coming together in the language philosophy of such thinkers as Ludwig Wittgenstein. He taught philosophy in the university for 39 years.

But Father Ray never tired of directing his philosophical interests to the service of the spiritual life. From 1964 to 1967, he was the cleric master for 72 young monks studying for the priesthood. In this role of prefect/advisor, he guided young monks through their final two years of undergraduate study, their final profession of vows, and four years of studies in theology leading to their ordination.

The clericate at this time was going through a radical transitional period from the old system which emphasized restriction and control, to a more mature respect for individual differences and needs. Father Ray was a key advisor to Abbot Baldwin Dworshak, OSB (abbot 1951-1971), and the council of seniors during those changing times. He gave talks and published his views on many topics, including the growing tensions between the abbey and the university. He also authored a booklet on psychology and religion titled "Humility and the Human Ego" (1984).

In June 2000, Father Ray retired from teaching in the university to devote time to quiet study and philosophical reflection. That retirement was cut short when he was appointed Prior of the Abbey in June 2001 by Abbot John Klassen, OSB. Father Ray found the position of Prior both difficult and gratifying. He especially enjoyed his relationships with the older members of the abbey living in Saint Raphael Hall, arranging excursions for the older monks to places of interest in Minnesota. He always loved eating Italian pasta with a good bottle of wine at those outings. He was much loved as a Prior for his compassion and gentle spirit. In 2007, Father Ray retired as Prior, hoping to do a project on the nature of community from a religious and philosophical perspective.

Father Ray's health took a precarious turn when he fell on the ice and broke his hip in the winter of 2008. To aid in his recovery, he was transferred to Saint Raphael Hall where he could be better cared for. Over these later years, he also suffered from Parkinson's disease, which he bore with courage and a smile.

Father Raymond died on Monday, September 3, 2012, in the retirement center at Saint John's Abbey. He is survived by his sister Maureen, his brother Francis, nieces and nephews, as well as special friends Kathy Theisen and Sr. Judy Huber, OSB, and the community at St. John's Abbey. The monks, family, and friends will celebrate the Mass of Christian Burial for Father Raymond on Friday, September 7, 2012, in Saint John's Abbey and University Church, with interment in the 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, Raymond, to your prayers.

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