+Abbot John Albert Eidenschink OSB JCD
9 August 1914 - 19 June 2004
Abbot John Albert Eidenschink OSB, seventh Abbot of Saint John's Abbey for eight
years (1971-79) and President of the American-Cassinese Congregation of Benedictine
monasteries for six years (1983-89), died at Collegeville on June 19, 2004.
Born in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, August 9, 1914, to Mathilda Brixius and
John B. Eidenschink, young Albert lost his father to the pandemic of Spanish
influenza that swept America and the world in 1918. His mother abandoned the
farm and opened a home laundry in town where she supported three children
until her death at 43 in 1932 in the depth of the Great Depression.
Albert graduated from Holy Rosary School in Detroit Lakes in 1928 and attended
Saint John's Preparatory School from 1928 to 1931. Particularly in high school,
Albert participated in all types of athletics and lettered in football. His
interest in sports continued throughout his life.
After two years study at Saint John's University, Frater John entered the
Abbey's novitiate in July of 1933. He made triennial vows on July 11, 1935.
He completed the B.A. degree in Philosophy in 1937 and began theological studies
that lasted until his ordination in June, 1941. In 1945 The Catholic University
of America conferred upon him the doctorate in canon law.
Assignments and Activities
Father John's indefatigable energy and devotion to the abbey were given expression
in a variety of positions of service: Editor of The Oblate, 1935-41;
Prep School history teacher, 1938-40, 1941-42;
Secretary to Abbot Alcuin Deutsch, 1941-50 and to Abbot Baldwin
Dworschak, 1950-69; Subprior, 1947-69; recorder
of Mass intentions, 1947-69; Ordinary Confessor of the Novices,
1950-65; Chair of the Abbey's first Building Committee for
the 100-Year Plan, 1953-56, and Vice-chair of the Abbey Church
Building Committee, 1957-61.
He also served as Professor of Canon Law and Liturgy in the diocesan seminary,
1945-73; Judge on the Matrimonial Tribunal of the Diocese of St. Cloud, 1945-71;
Editor of The Ordo, 1947-68; Editor of the official
Holy Name Calendar (Brown
& Bigelow), 1948-65; Canonist for the Federation of Saint Benedict, 1957-1971;
Canonist for the Federation of Saint Gertrude, 1965-71; Chair of the Liturgical
Committee of the Diocese of St. Cloud, 1964-69; and Dean of the School of
In August 1971 the monks of Saint John's Abbey elected Father
John, then 57, to succeed Abbot Baldwin W. Dworschak, OSB, as their seventh
Abbot. During Abbot John's eight years in office, he pursued a careful, sensitive
and balanced approach to the problems of a religious community adjusting to
the postconciliar period. He improved and organized health care facilities
in St. Raphael's Hall providing a comfortable, professional and tasteful environment
for a rapidly increasing number of retired and ill monks.
In accord with the statutes of the American-Cassinese Congregation, Abbot
John resigned in 1979 at age 65.
In 1980 Saint John's Abbey and University honored Abbot John with the Pax
Christi Award. The award cited his "willingness to dedicate your life
in its entirety to the service of your confreres of Saint John's Abbey and
of the whole church."
Following his resignation as Abbot, he accepted an assignment as pastor of
Seven Dolors Church, Albany, Minnesota, from 1979 until 1986. In 1987 he became
chaplain at Mother of Mercy Nursing Home, Albany, where he served until 1998
when he retired to the Abbey's St. Raphael Health Center. Parishioners and
nursing home residents often described him as a good, sensitive and helpful
shepherd of his flocks.
Abbot John's training and experience served him well as he undertook translating
documents from the original Latin. The result, Acts and Decrees of the General
Chapters of the American-Cassinese Congregation, 1858-1959, made Acta et Decreta,
1858-1959, more widely accessible to a new generation of monastic canonists
Abbot John spent his final years as a resident of the Abbey's Health Center.
He continued to participate with the community in daily Eucharist, common
prayer and recreation. Abbot John succumbed to his final illness and died
fortified by the sacraments and the prayers of his community on Saturday,
June 19, 2004.
Abbot John was preceded in death by his sister, Esther C. Post, Moose Lake, and
his brother, Leo C. Eidenschink, Detroit Lakes. He is survived by Esther's
three sons and Leo's two sons and a daughter.
The Liturgy of Christian Burial will be celebrated for Abbot John Eidenschink
at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, 25 June, in Saint John's Abbey Church with
burial in the abbey cemetery.
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,
John, to your prayers.
Abbot John Klassen, OSB, and the monks of Saint John's.