Brother Damian Donald Rogers, OSB
Monk of Saint John's Abbey
Born: June 12, 1942
Professed: July 11, 1965
Died: November 11, 2016
Donald Edward Rogers was born on June 12, 1942. He was the eleventh of twelve children born to Joseph and Mable (Weinberger) Rogers in Osage, Iowa. His father was a farmer and his mother was a homemaker.
Donald received his primary education at Washington and Lincoln schools in Osage from 1949 through 1957. He began his secondary education at Osage High School the following fall and received his high school diploma in 1961.
Growing up on a dairy farm, Donald worked with his father and became acquainted with hard, regular work and the mechanics of farm equipment.
Sometime after his high school graduation, he was encouraged to visit Saint John's Abbey by his hometown pastor, a Saint John's seminary graduate. Donald eventually decided to become a monk of Saint John's Abbey.
He entered the novitiate at Saint John's on September 15, 1963, and professed his vows on July 11, 1965, taking the monastic name of Damian.
During his first years in the monastery, Damian worked as a sacristan. After five years, Br. Benedict Ulfers, then in charge of abbey vehicles, got the opportunity to work at St. Anselm's parish in the Bronx, New York, and he asked Damian to take over for him at the Abbey. Although Damian knew little about cars, he enjoyed the change and later wrote: "It was a big change from sacristan to the garage, but I was happy to change. I was able to be outside and move around a lot. I learned the trade by doing it."
Most of his labors in the monastery from that point on involved work with our fleet of automobiles. In the beginning, when there were only a few cars, all abbey car maintenance was outsourced to the neighboring towns of St. Joseph or Avon. However, when Damian took over the operation, that arrangement gradually changed. As the fleet became considerably larger over the years, and with Damian's persistent prodding, a new garage was built, superseding the old garage connected with Saint Joseph Hall and providing much more space and new equipment, thus rendering auto maintenance easier. Built in 1977, immediately north of the abbey garden, this new garage allowed for more extensive auto maintenance operations— oil, point, and tire changes, shock and muffler replacements and regular car washing—all of which proved more cost effective for the abbey. Here Damian gradually assumed maintenance work with a wider range of vehicles: trucks, tractors, lawnmowers, and smaller campus vehicles.
As a young man, Damian enjoyed hunting and fishing. As a monk, he continued to relish his hunting and fishing excursions (Alaska and northern Minnesota), occasionally bagging a few deer for the monastery. He was a sports enthusiast who thoroughly enjoyed Johnnie football, basketball, hockey, Notre Dame and Iowa football. He also enjoyed playing a variety of card games with his confreres.
In 1998, he proudly listed 67 nieces and nephews and 120 great nieces and nephews in his extended family. Brother Damian died on the morning of November 11, in the retirement center at Saint John's Abbey.
Brother Damian was preceded in death by his siblings, Marvin, Claire, Morris and Monica. He is survived by sisters, Marilyn Doyle, Kathleen Prokopec, Lorraine Prokopec, Marie Boerjan, Eileen Kleckner and brothers, Jerry Rogers and Galen Rogers, a large extended family of nieces and nephews, and the community at Saint John's Abbey. The monks, family, and friends will celebrate the Eucharist of Christian Burial for Brother Damian on Tuesday, November 15, at 3 pm in Saint John's Abbey and University Church, with internment 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 Damian to your prayers.
Abbot John Klassen OSB
and the monks of Saint John's Abbey