Father Arnold Weber, OSB
Monk of Saint John's Abbey
Born: 21 October 1925
Professed: 11 July 1946
Ordained: 7 June 1952
Died: 9 February, 2012
Arnold John Weber was born on October 21, 1925, to Bernard and Louise (Arceneau) Weber in St. Martin, Minnesota. He was the second son in a family of twelve children. The Weber family was strong in their Catholic faith and German heritage. Six of the children pursued religious vocations-four sisters became Benedictine nuns and two brothers became Benedictine priests. The family lived on the farm until his father lost his left hand in a corn shredder accident. He quit farming and sought other employment. When the sons grew up, Arnold's father returned to farming. Arnold enjoyed the rural life especially the manual labor on the farm and attending a country grade school.
In 1940 Arnold enrolled in Saint John's Preparatory School in Collegeville, Minnesota, to begin studies for the priesthood. While at the prep school, Arnold enjoyed the educational and athletic opportunities it offered. Arnold was elected president of the student council in his senior year and captain of both the football and basketball teams.
After graduating from the Prep School in 1944, Arnold enrolled in Saint John's University. Along with his scholastic studies, he participated in basketball and baseball. Arnold applied for the novitiate of Saint John's Abbey in March of his sophomore year and began his novitiate on July 10, 1945. After making his profession as a Benedictine monk on July 11, 1946, Arnold continued his studies for the priesthood, graduating from Saint John's University with a BA in philosophy and finishing his theological studies. Father Arnold was ordained to the priesthood on June 7, 1952.
From 1952-57, Father Arnold taught history and religion in the Preparatory School and was an athletic coach. During the summers, he attended The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, earning an MA degree in family sociology. In 1957, Father Arnold was appointed Abbey personnel director and assistant treasurer in the business office. With the help of his younger brother, Father Otto Weber, OSB, (1934-1987), Father Arnold founded in 1959 the still flourishing Saint John's Summer Leadership Camps which promote the positive growth of youngsters in a community setting. From 1960-69, Father Arnold was appointed the first vocation director in the Abbey's history.
From 1970 to 1973, Father Arnold was the head of the religion department at Benilde-St. Margaret High School in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. In 1973, he was appointed pastor of Holy Rosary Church, Detroit Lakes, Minnesota.
Father Arnold returned to Benilde-St. Margaret High School in 1977 to become president. The school was floundering and in danger of closing. But under his dynamic leadership, the school turned around and enrollment grew from 700 to over a 1,000. One school board member of Benilde-St. Margaret remarked that Father Arnold was "an atomic bomb in a Roman collar."
In 1981 Father Arnold became pastor of Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Medina, Minnesota. The parish went from a membership of 300 families to 2,400 families. Father Arnold oversaw the building of an entirely new parish complex including a new church, rectory, gymnasium and classrooms for the parish school. Father Arnold was a man of great energy, exuberance and enthusiasm for life, and his style of leadership attracted people from many areas.
Father Arnold's vibrant and down to earth homilies so touched the people that they put together a book of his homilies from which people could continue to draw inspiration for their lives. A parishioner remarked: "Anyone who has met Father Arnold knows he is a great leader, known for his heart-warming homilies, great liturgies, and German wit." At the start of the new millennium, Father Arnold wrote in the parish history: "Of all the areas I am most proud of at Holy Name one stands out: we have taken the Second Vatican Council seriously, both in liturgy and in our duty towards the needy."
Throughout his priesthood, Father Arnold was a sought after as a retreat director for married couples and high school students, and as a speaker on the banquet circuits. As Father Arnold said: "Of all the wonderful things of God, people are the most beautiful."
Father Arnold has been recognized and honored in many ways: As recipient of the Saint John's Preparatory School's "Armor of Light Award" in 1979 and the 1986 Saint John's University's "Alumni Achievement Award." He has received various Knights of Columbus Awards, the WCCO Good Neighbor Award, and has been recognized by the Serra Club as an outstanding priest. In September of 2003 Father Arnold retired from parish ministry and returned to Saint John's Abbey. Despite the effects of Parkinson's disease, he continued to be active in the monastic life. Occasionally he served as spiritual director for several pilgrimages and trips. He also maintained his life-long habit of serious reading and keeping informed about the contemporary Church.
Father Arnold died on Thursday, February 9, 2012, in the retirement center at Saint John's Abbey. He is survived by his brother, Jerome; sisters, Sister Jane, OSB, Sister Bernadette, OSB, Sister Helen, OSB, Sister Marcella, OSB, all of Saint Benedict's Monastery, Saint Joseph, Minnesota; sisters, Alice (Richard) Drontle, Elizabeth (Donald) Schramel; nieces and nephews; and the community at Saint John's Abbey. The monks, family, and friends will celebrate the Mass of Christian Burial for Father Arnold on Tuesday, February 14, 2012, 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 Arnold to your prayers.
Abbot John Klassen OSB
and the monks of Saint John's Abbey.