Father Stanley Forrest Roche, OSB

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Monk of Saint John's Abbey
Collegeville, Minnesota

Born: 18 November 1921
Professed: 11 July 1942
Ordained: 15 June 1947
Died: 8 May 2010

 

Forrest Edward Roche was born on November 18, 1921, in Cresco, Iowa, as the second son of ten children of Lawrence and Evelyn (Brokken) Roche. His father was a prosperous farmer who had attended the Minnesota Agricultural College. The farm was lost when the Great Depression hit, and the family encountered bad financial times. Forrest attended rural school in Fremont Township in Winneshiek County, Iowa, from 1927 to 1934. Because of his academic excellence, he was promoted a grade and graduated with his brother Bill. Religious education was provided by his parents and summer catechism school at St. Kieran's mission church. His pastor, Father H. A. Henrichs, encouraged Forrest to become a priest.

Forrest attended Harmony High School in Harmony, Minnesota, obtaining his diploma in 1938. During high school he excelled in his studies, but college seemed out of reach due to family finances. Father Henrichs told Forrest in August that he had made arrangements for college at St. John's University in 1938 after Abbot Alcuin made a generous offer. No mention was made of priesthood, but Father Henrichs bought Forrest's books and paid his fees and asked Father Owen Tekippe, OSB (1907-1989), to be his guardian. Forrest entered the abbey novitiate in 1941 and received the name of Stanley.

After making his first monastic profession on July 11, 1942, Stanley completed his bachelor's degree in philosophy at St. John's in 1944. He continued priesthood studies and was ordained a priest on June 15, 1947. After teaching English in the St. John's Preparatory School during his deacon year, Abbot Alcuin decided that Father Stanley should pursue graduate work in English. He attended summer school at the University of Iowa, the University of Minnesota, and finally at the University of Notre Dame, where he received a master's degree in English in 1952.

Father Stanley taught English in the preparatory school from 1947 to 1959 and from 1952 to 1958 he served as its dean.

In 1959 a new chapter opened up to Father Stanley when he was given permission to become a chaplain in the United States Army. Of his 22 years spent in the military service, twelve were spent overseas in Korea, Germany, Thailand, Vietnam, and The Netherlands. Ten years were spent stateside at bases in Missouri, New York, Virginia, Georgia, Texas, and Alabama.

While stationed in Vietnam, he recalls that he "expected to die there, but the Lord took care of me." Even when asked, he demurred, speaking of those times "as unpleasant experiences that people often try to blot out."

The memories would be many judging by the varied medals that Father Stanley received for his military service: the Bronze Star Medal, National Defense Medal, Army Commendation Medal with Oak-Leaf Cluster, Meritorious Service Medal with Oak-Leaf Cluster, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, and Vietnam Service Medal.

Father Stanley retired from the military chaplaincy as an Army colonel in 1981. He then served as associate pastor of Holy Rosary parish in Detroit Lakes (1981-1982), pastor of St. Bartholomew's parish in Wayzata (1982-1986), and associate pastor at Detroit Lakes (1986-1988). His last thirteen years of pastoral work were as chaplain of St. Therese Retirement Community in Hopkins. Father Stanley returned to Saint John's Abbey in November of 2001.

In his retirement, Father Stanley was given the task of taking care of the stipends for Saint John's Abbey for a few years. He remained a faithful member at monastic prayer and of the Saint John's family. This soft-spoken, sincere, and faithful priest-monk served the community and the world with his disciplined life, humorous stories, and welcoming smile.

Father Stanley died on May 8, 2010, in the retirement center at Saint John's Abbey. He is survived by his sisters Evelyn Royal, of Silver Spring, Maryland, Margaret Kneafsey, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Mary Lou Elmore and her husband Wayne, of Bellevue, Nebraska; his brother Lawrence and his wife Mary of LeCenter, Minnesota; his sister-in-law, Phyllis Roche, of Lodi, California; 24 nieces and 14 newphews; his dear friend, Paul Roche and his wife Barbara of Brainerd, Minnesota; and the community at Saint John's Abbey. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated for Father Stanley on May 13, 2010, 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, Stanley, to your prayers.

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