Deaths and Memorials

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Death and Memorials

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The Rt. Rev. Dr. Robert F. Taft, S.J., a leading light in the study of Eastern liturgies, Archimandrite in the Ukrainian Catholic Church, and founding member of the North American Academy of Liturgy, died peacefully after a long illness on November 2, 2018. Born in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1932, and beginning Jesuit formation in 1949 in Weston, Massachusetts, Taft went on to study oriental languages, be ordained in the Greek Catholic Church (1963) and pursue further studies in oriental liturgy, writing his doctoral dissertation on The Great Entrance in Chrysostom's Divine Office at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, which would become his primary academic institutional home for the rest of his illustrious scholarly and teaching career. There is no more comprehensive account of Chrysostom's Divine Office and its origins than his five volumes on the same (Volume 5 is in final preparation for publication). His The Liturgy of the Hours: East and West (1987) remains a definitive resource for liturgical scholars and students worldwide. The hundreds of articles he wrote and the thousands he shepherded through the scholarly journals of which he was editor are a continuing testimony to the depth and breadth of the scholarship he both engaged and cultivated. And he may be credited with helping to lead the Roman Catholic Church to recognize the Anaphora of Addai and Mari, in use to this day by the Assyrian Church of The East, paving the way for congregations in this historic Christian Church and the Roman Catholic Church to receive communion from one another.

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Fr. Giles H. Pater (1937-2017) was a priest of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and a long-time member of the North American Academy of Liturgy. He died in Cincinnati on November 3, 2017, at the age of eighty-three. A Cincinnati native, Pater attended seminary in Cincinnati where he was ordained on May 31, 1958. He received a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music and a Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame. In June 1959 he was given permission to take up studies at the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music in Rome to work toward a licentiate degree in sacred music. On August 24, 1961, he was appointed to the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Cincinnati. In July, 1964 he was appointed director of the Boys’ Choir School and the Cathedral Men’s Choir. In 1971, he was appointed vicar of the Commission on Worship for the Archdiocese. In his long and distinguished ministry, Giles Pater was pastor of a number of different parishes in Cincinnati where he always presided over liturgy prayerfully and beautifully.

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Fr. John A. Gurrieri (1942-2017) - We remember the life and death of former NAAL member, John A. Gurrieri. He died Sept. 10 at Bishop Mugavero Residence, Douglaston, where he had been living since 2010. He was 75. John served as the diocesan consultant for the liturgy, 1975-78, and then as associate director and later executive director of the U.S. Bishops’ Commission on the Liturgy, Washington, D.C., 1978-88. He served on the International Conference on English in the Liturgy from 1980 to 1998. In 1989, he accepted an invitation from Cardinal Roger Mahoney to establish a liturgical studies program at Mount St. Mary’s College of Los Angeles, while also teaching liturgy at St. John’s Seminary, Camarillo, Calif., until 1993. Returning to his home Diocese of Brooklyn in 1993, John completed his priestly work in 2010, when health concerns led to his retirement and relocation to Bishop Muguavero Residence.

Nancy L. Swift, RCE,  colleague, teacher, and mentor across generations, died on Wednesday June 14, 2017 in St. Patrick's Manor, Framingham, Massachusetts. She was 89. Sr. Nancy's life was profoundly shaped by the sisters of the Religious in Christian Education, an order founded to provide education for girls after the collapse of education systems in the wake of the French Revolution. The order would eventually expand its mission beyond France into England, Ireland, North America, and Africa.  Herself the product of RCE education as a graduate of Jeanne d'Arc Academy in Milton, Massachusetts in 1944, Sr. Nancy later returned there as both teacher and principal after completing the BA at Trinity College in Washington, D.C., the M.Ed. Counseling and Psychology at Boston College, her final profession of vows in RCE in 1956, and as well as a stint as teacher at Marycliff Academy, another RCE school in Winchester. After several years of successful educational leadership in Wilton, Sr Nancy began to pursue a different educational calling. She obtained the MA in Liturgical Studies at the University of Notre Dame and the PhD in Liturgy and Theology at the University of Strasbourg, France, and then began what would be her twenty-nine year career as professor of liturgy at St. John's Seminary, Brighton, Massachusetts.  Her legacy continues in her many students and colleagues, her sisters in the Religious of Christian Education, and many nieces and nephews.

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Robert E. Rambusch, internationally known liturgical artist and a founding member of the North American Academy of Liturgy, died on Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at the age of 93. Born in Brooklyn, NY he studied at Brooklyn Prep and then the pre-college program in art and architecture at Pratt Institute. After World War II, Bob graduated from St. Michael’s College, Toronto and then studied at the Center for Sacred Art in Paris where he was a student of Dominican Friar Marie-Alain Couturier. In the late 1940s, Rambusch moved back to the States and began working in the family business, Rambusch Studios. He was active in many organizations dealing with liturgy, art and architecture. They include the Liturgical Conference, the Art and Architecture Commission of the New York Archdiocese, the Liturgical Arts Society, the Stained Glass Association of America, and the Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art and Architecture. A dimension of Bob’s life unknown to many was his fierce dedication to social justice issues. While studying in France, Bob was involved in the Young Christian Workers Movement, an experience that initiated him into the world of social activism. Upon his return to New York City in the late 1940s he became active in the Catholic Worker Movement and the Catholic Interracial Council. Bob was the recipient of several prestigious honors including the Berakah Award (2001). Robert E. Rambusch will be remembered as an energized raconteur, a caring family man, a charitable human rights activist, and a gifted liturgical artist.

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Abbot Patrick Regan, O.S.B., retired abbot of Saint Joseph Abbey, died peacefully at the abbey in Saint Benedict, Louisiana, on 8 February 2017 at the age of 79. In 1965, he began studies at the Institut Catholique and the Institut Supérieur de Liturgie in Paris, where he earned a doctorate in theology in 1971.  His doctoral dissertation was on the early Roman sacramentaries' penitential formularies, which were closely bound up with the celebration of Lent and Easter. While abbot of Saint Joseph, Abbot Patrick was elected Abbot President of the Swiss-American Benedictine Congregation, an office in which he served from 1987 to 1999. He was also a member of the international board, and president of the North American board, of Alliance Inter Monastère (A.I.M.), which provides support for Benedictine and Cistercian monasteries in developing countries. Upon his resignation as abbot of his monastery in 2001, he accepted a faculty appointment, which lasted until 2013, in the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy at the Pontificio Ateneo Sant' Anselmo, the Benedictine university in Rome. He also held several positions in the monastic community at the Collegio Sant' Anselmo. His culminating work was his book Advent to Pentecost (2012), a comparison of the structure and content of the Advent-Christmas and Lent-Easter seasons in the post-Tridentine and post-Vatican II liturgies. He was a founding member of the North American Academy of Liturgy and a member of the International Societas Liturgica. He also served on a commission of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, preparing a fifth volume of the Liturgia horarum.

  Archbishop James Hayes was “A self-effacing, quiet man, beloved of his own congregation, highly regarded by Catholic and Protestant clergy, vitally interested in people.” This description that appeared in the Halifax Chronical Herald in February, 1965, continued to describe James Martin Hayes, Emeritus Archbishop of Halifax, until his death on August 2, 2016. Archbishop Hayes had been present at the first session of Vatican II, and after episcopal ordination, returned as a Council father for the final session in 1965. He tirelessly promoted liturgical renewal in Canada. The late Leonard Sullivan, a former director of the Canadian national liturgy office, said of him: “James Hayes has the finest liturgical mind among the bishops I have encountered over the past four decades”. Hayes understood the ecclesial meaning of the liturgy and that the diocese becomes fully church when it gathers around its bishop to celebrate Eucharist. Hayes’ membership in both the North American Academy of Liturgy and Societas Liturgica reflected his appreciation and encouragement of both liturgical scholarship and of scholars themselves. James Martin Hayes also encouraged young people to love the liturgy.  James Hayes was known for his love for the poor and marginalized and he valued the work and the ministry of women, and recognized the new day it heralded for the church. He was also an ardent ecumenist under whose leadership the Archdiocese of Halifax, in cooperation with the Anglican and United Churches, established the Atlantic School of Theology.  

Kathleen Sullivan-Stewart, 74, a longtime resident of Oak Park, died on Jan. 4, 2015. She had a D. Min. degree and directed the liturgy training program for lay ministers at the Office of Divine Worship for the Archdiocese of Chicago. Kathleen Sullivan-Stewart was the wife of George Stewart for 51 years; the mother of Julia (Milton English), Patrick (Fouzia) and Michael (Molly) Stewart; the proud Gram of Sullivan, Bailey, Victoria, Lauren and Malcolm; the sister of Sue Sullivan; sister-in-law of Lois Stewart and the late Alice Ekstrom and Wilma Nielsen; the daughter of Walter and Annetta Sullivan; and the aunt, great friend and mentor to many. 

Fr. John Allyn Melloh, SM, died on December 31, 2014 in Florida while visiting his family. John was 71 with 53 years of religious profession. Born on March 20, 1943, in Jamaica, New York, he was the oldest of three sons in the family of William Lester and Gertrude (Gehring) Melloh. He attended St. Aidan School and Chaminade High School on Long Island, New York, where he first encountered members of the Society of Mary. He entered the novitiate at Marcy, New York, in 1960, and professed his first vows there on August 22, 1961. He professed perpetual vows in Baltimore, Maryland, on August 20, 1966. He earned a master’s degree in liturgical studies from the University of Notre Dame in 1972, and a doctorate in historical theology from Saint Louis University in 1974. During this time, he also earned a commercial airline pilot certificate and became a certified flight instructor. Early in his career as a university professor, Fr. John taught at the University of Dayton; St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas; Biscayne College in Miami, Florida; and St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota. In 1977, he began teaching at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. He became a popular teacher of pastoral, liturgical and historical theology. He was co-editor of Praise God in Song: Ecumenical Daily Prayer, Foundations in Ritual Studies among other titles. He was a charter member of Societas Homiletica and a member of the North American Academy of Liturgists.

Fr. David Power, O.M.I., passed away on Thursday, June 19, 2014. He was born in Dublin, Ireland on December 14, 1932. His parents were David Power and Kathleen Davis. He made his novitiate in Ireland in 1950 and his perpetual vows in 1954. He was ordained in Rome in 1956. He obtained his doctorate in theology from the Anselmianum Liturgical Institute in 1968. He taught theology in Ireland, the Oblate seminary and at Maynooth, the diocesan seminary for some years. He also taught at the Gregorian University in Rome. In 1977 he began his career as a Professor of theology at the Catholic University of America. During his tenure at the University he was appointed the Shakespeare Caldwell Dave Distinguished professor and subsequently became the Chair of the theology department. He was elected as president of the North American Academy of Religion. He has lectured throughout the United States and Canada as well as Ireland, South Africa, the Philippines and Zaire. In 1998, David was honored with the John Courtney Murray award for excellence in the field of theological scholarship. He taught in the diocesan seminary in Tahiti and more recently in the Oblate seminary in Zambia. He has authored numerous scholarly books in the field of liturgical theology and many articles in various theological publications. He was a member of the editorial board of Concilium, a post Conciliar publication. Upon returning to the United States from Zambia David was in treatment for cancer for a period of two years. He was the author of 10 books, including Gifts That Differ (1980), Unsearchable Riches (1985), The Sacrifice We Offer (T & T Clark and Crossroad, 1987), The Eucharistic Mystery (1992), and Love without Calculation (2005).

Rev. John “Jack” H. McKenna, CM, died on December 3, 2013, in his 50th year as a Vincentian Priest. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1964 having attended both college and major seminary at Mary Immaculate Seminary and College in Northampton, Pennsylvania. He was fluent in German having studied at Trier University, Germany, doing a major in Systematic Theology and a minor in Sacred Scripture where he earned the degrees of S.T.L. (1968) and S.T.D. (1971). It was during his doctoral studies that he attended the Liturgisches Institut, having studied with the renowned liturgist, Bathasar Fischer, where he earned the diploma in Sacred Liturgy. Jack was a charter member of North American Academy of Liturgy for which he was elected and served as president in 1982. Since arriving at St. John's University in New York more than four decades ago, he touched the hearts and minds of thousands of students, colleagues and alumni within the University family. He was a former Professor in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies of St. John's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and served as Department Chairperson from 1981 to 1988. Fr. McKenna retired from active teaching in 2011, after which he continued to serve the University as a Vincentian priest. Recognized for his lifelong commitment to St. John's mission of academic excellence and service to others, he was awarded the University's St. Vincent de Paul Teacher-Scholar Award in 1999 and the Service Learning Teacher of the Year Award in 2005.

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Fr. R. Kevin Seasoltz, OSB, former rector of St. John's Seminary in Collegeville and a noted liturgist and author, died April 27, 2013, in the retirement center on the Benedictine Abbey grounds after a brief battle with cancer. He was 82. Seasoltz was rector of the Benedictine seminary at Collegeville from 1988 to 1992. He served as a theology professor there from 1972 to 2008, originally only during the summer until 1987, and then on a full-time basis for 20 years before retiring. Prior to teaching at Collegeville full time, he was on the faculty of The Catholic University of America in Washington for 25 years. Born Robert Joseph Seasoltz in Johnstown, Pa., Dec. 29, 1930, Seasoltz was ordained a priest in 1956 for his home diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. However, drawn to the monastic lifestyle, he professed his first vows as a Benedictine monk in 1960, taking the name Kevin. He won a Catholic Press Association book award for best book on liturgy in 2006 with A Sense of the Sacred: Theological Foundations of Christian Architecture and Art.  Seasoltz's latest book, published in 2012, is A Virtuous Church: Catholic Theology, Ethics, and Liturgy for the 21st Century. Other books he authored include Translating Tradition: A Chant Historian Reads 'Liturgiam Authenticam' (2005); New Liturgy, New Laws (1986); Living Bread, Saving Cup: Readings on the Eucharist (1982); The New Liturgy: A Documentation, 1903-1965 (1966); and The House of God: Sacred Art and Church Architecture (1963).

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Dr. Mary M. Schaefer died peacefully at home in Halifax, Nova Scotia on March 27, 2013, Wednesday of Holy Week in the company of good friends, just two days after celebrating her 77th birthday. Born March 25, 1936 in Schenectady, NY, Mary began her post-secondary education at the University of Toronto (St. Michael's College), with an honor's degree and gold medal in art and archaeology. She was recipient of a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship to study art history at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. For some years she taught in the Fine Arts Department at the University of Toronto and Scarborough College. During that time with a group of women Mary made the case before the bishops of Canada for ordination of women to the diaconate. She was not surprised by their response. Resigning her teaching post, she worked for two years in Northern Alberta in adult faith formation in the Archdiocese of Grouard-McLennan, Peace River country, then at the Catholic Information Centre, Edmonton. It was during this period in her life that she began the study of liturgy in the summer programme at St. John's University, Collegeville, Minnesota. In 1975 Mary wrote Scripture commentaries for Publications Service, Ottawa (Sunday Mass Book, 1976), followed by a full year of teaching at U of T and the University of Guelph prior to graduate school at the University of Notre Dame (1978 to 1983). Immediately following her Ph.D. in liturgical studies at Notre Dame, Mary taught Christian worship, spirituality, systematic theology, and art and architecture at Atlantic School of Theology, Halifax (1983 to 2001). She wrote especially in areas of eucharist, ordination, ecclesiology, and trinitarian theology, and at her death awaited publication of her work of 20 years, Women in Pastoral Office: The Story of Santa Prassede, Rome (Oxford University Press). She became a Canadian citizen on June 24, 1996. From 1996 to 2003, she was the Canadian member of the Advisory/Consultant Committee of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy. From 1995 to 1996, Mary was president of the Canadian Theological Society. She received the Elizabeth Seton Award (Sisters of Charity) and the Archdiocesan Medal of Merit. 

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Fr. James Challancin, a priest of the Marquette, MI, diocese passed away on Sunday, February 3, 2013. Callancin served as Director of the Rensselaer Program of Church Music and Liturgy at Saint Joseph’s College from 1995-2000. Fr. Challancin was born in 1941 and ordained a priest in 1968. The funeral was celebrated at St. Joseph Parish in Ishpeming, MI, where Fr. Challancin was pastor. Speaking on the topic of liturgy and the sacraments in 2003, he began by stressing that sacramental theology is distinctively Catholic. He said the symbolic nature of Catholic sacramental life - as seen in things like incense, candles and holy water - satisfies the basic human urge to contact the divine in a way perceptible to the senses. "Our churches smell different," he said. A healthy sacramental life can revitalize parishes, he said. But the meaning of the sacraments is an extremely complex thing which has grown organically from sacred tradition. He quoted early Church father Tertullian (160-225), who called the flesh "the hinge of salvation" and said that no soul can attain salvation unless it does so in the flesh. St. Augustine (354-430) spoke in an Epiphany sermon of how "water, a physical substance, reaches to the soul." It is no accident that Catholics receive the sacraments on the flesh, Father Challancin said. He also spoke about how the entire Trinity, not just Jesus Christ, acts through the sacraments. Eucharistic prayers to the Holy Spirit and to God the Father stress that Christ pours out the Holy Spirit to us in the sacraments. We find unity with God in the sacraments, he said.

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Sister Eleanor Bernstein, CSJ, (formerly known as Sister Caritas) passed away Monday, March 12, 2012, in Cleveland, Ohio. She was born in New Orleans in 1939 and baptized Eleanor Marie Bernstein, the older of two daughters of Philip Simon and Theresa Monjure Bernstein. Sister Eleanor entered the Sisters of St. Joseph in New Orleans in 1957, professing final vows in 1965. She held a B.A. in English from St. Mary's Dominican College in New Orleans, an M.A. in English from Louisiana State University, an M.A. in Theology and an M.A. in Liturgical Studies from the University of Notre Dame. She taught for seven years in New Orleans at St. Joseph Academy and taught six years part-time at St. Joseph Junior College and Novitiate. She served as Director of Religious Education at St. George Parish in Baton Rouge, LA for nine years. She was Director of Liturgy at Our Lady of Divine Providence in Metairie, LA and Director of Liturgy and RCIA at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Lake Charles, LA before becoming Director of the Center for Pastoral Liturgy at the University of Notre Dame from 1988 to 2002. She was elected to congregational leadership and lived in Cincinnati, Ohio for five years where she assisted in the reconfiguration process which drew seven communities of Sisters of St. Joseph into one Congregation of St. Joseph. Sister Eleanor was a skilled writer who edited a complete set of office books, Daily Prayer, Daily Bread, used both by sisters throughout the Congregation and others. She had begun ministering on the staff at the Magnificat Center in Wichita, KS, until serious health issues necessitated her move to Cleveland where she was enrolled in the Cleveland Clinic. In 2011 Ave Maria Press published her book, Praying Our Lives: A Woman's Treasury of Catholic Prayer

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Reverend Richard J. Butler, 76 of Boston, a founding member of the NAAL, died on September 30, 2012. A Priest of the Archdiocese of Boston, Dick was ordained February 2, 1962 and served in many parishes including St. Mary's Foxboro, Blessed Sacrament Cambridge, Our Lady of Sorrows Sharon and Holy Family Rockland . He became Pastor of Immaculate Conception Cambridge and later Sacred Heart in Lexington, St. Timothy Norwood , and St. Isidore Stow. Dick was Director of the Office of the Permanent Diaconate from 1994-1996,  and senior priest in residence St. Mary of the Assumption Brookline 2006-2011.  He had been a resident at Regina Cleri, the Boston clergy retirement home in Boston since 2011.  Dick was an alumnus of  Boston Latin School ('54), Holy Cross College ('58), St. John Seminary ('62), Catholic University of America ('78), and Boston University ('83). Active in the liturgical movement for many years, he directed the seminarian workshops at the National Liturgical Weeks from 1959 to 1962. He was secretary of the New England Liturgical Committee from 1959 to 1984. A member of the board of directors of the national Liturgical Conference 1967 to 1970, he was a charter member of the North American Academy of Liturgy and the Catholic Academy of Liturgy and, in 1977, was admitted to the international Societas Liturgica.

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Gloria Weyman, longtime advocate of music, dance, and the visual arts for liturgical prayer, went to dance for her Lord on Wednesday, May 9, 2012, at 85 years of age. In the years following Vatican II, she was an advocate for the music and ministry of Fr. Lucien Deiss; her efforts were instrumental in making his “Biblical Hymns and Psalms” known throughout the U.S. as well as his work as a speaker on the topics of scripture and liturgy. Having danced with a U.S. touring company of Georges Balanchine’s Ballet Russes as a young woman, she came to blend her art with her Roman Catholic faith. Gloria initiated a dance and movement track for the national conventions of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, and worked to have dance, movement, and gesture incorporated in parish liturgies. She was a member of the North American Academy of Liturgy, the first member specializing in liturgical dance. Her book “Dance for the Lord” was a pioneering work. She remained active and interested in the musical and liturgical life of the Church well into her 80s. Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her.

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Fr. Lawrence (Larry) Heiman, C.PP.S., 94, died peacefully in his sleep on February 26, 2012, in the infirmary of St. Charles Center, Carthagena, Ohio, where he made his home.He was born August 24, 1917, in Decatur, IN. He entered the Society in 1932 and was ordained on December 5, 1943. Fr. Heiman was a gifted musician and teacher. Soon after his ordination he was assigned to teach music and drama at Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Ind., which is sponsored by the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. There he spent most of his life as a priest, teaching countless young people to praise God through song. He earned a doctoral degree in music from the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music in Rome in 1970.  Fr. Heiman was instrumental in establishing an advanced music degree program at St. Joseph’s College.  Fr. Heiman received numerous awards during his lifetime for his work in musical education. In 2002, he received the prestigious Jubilate Deo award from the National Association of Pastoral Musicians for his accomplishments.