Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

Alumni Obituaries

Abbot Claude Ehringer, OSB

Charles Ehringer was born in Jeffersonville, IN on 16 November 1908. He died in his room (monk cell) on 17 September 2007. He made his profession as a Benedictine monk 77 years ago at Saint Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana on August 6, 1930. At that time he took "Claude" as his religious name. Four years later on May 22 he was ordained a priest. While at Saint Meinrad, Fr. Claude served as Novice Master and Assistant Novice Master. Before he came to Oceanside, he spent some time at the Camaldolese priory in Big Sur but discernment of the Lord's will led him here to St. Charles Priory. For 18 years, he held the office of Prior. In 1983 he was elected the first abbot of Prince of Peace Abbey, serving in this capacity for 11 years before "retiring" in 1994. The Priory was expanding and there was a need to build more rooms for the new vocations and to enlarge the seating capacity of the chapel during the time Fr. Claude was Prior. The community decided that the church would be built first. God rewarded them for this decision by allowing the church to be built without the monks ever having to take out a loan. In 1980, under Prior Claude's direction, this construction project began and continued as long as there were funds available. The building resumed once enough donations had accumulated. As a result, it took eight years for the church to be completed. It was worth the wait! The monks made the furniture and decorations. During the construction phase, the Priory was elevated to an Abbey in 1983 and Fr. Prior Claude was elected its first Abbot.Abbot Claude was a man of many talents. Years ago, he had designed the altar for the little chapel. He assisted in painting the gold-leaf surrounding the icon in the church. He played basketball, badmitton and had a mean tennis serve. He sang in the schola and he enjoyed freshly popped popcorn. He was the Oblate Director for many years and when he "retired", he continued to serve as the Assistant Oblate Director. When Abbot Claude was no longer able to keep his busy schedule by walking, he used a motorized wheel-chair or "buggy" to transport himself to prayers, conferences, meals, etc. This limitation he accepted gracefully. He manipulated that vehicle so well that monks had to be sure to look around corners to see if he was not the on-coming traffic.His memory was amazing. Years after he had read a book, he would come to the library asking for the specific author or title or color of the book. And when he couldn't quite remember the exact title, he would quote some phrase from the book. He would not rest until he retrieved the book he wanted. Most of the time, he knew someone who would benefit by reading that particular book or passage.Abbot Claude was truly a man of peace and prayer. He followed the Holy Rule of St. Benedict completely. No matter what physical trial he was experiencing, he would be present at the Divine Office with the monastic community. He was fed by the graces from the Eucharist and his daily visits to the Blessed Sacrament. When he spent time with you, he gave his undivided attention. His spiritual direction was aimed at helping a person grow in holiness. Every day (even when he had just returned from the hospital) a steady stream of people would call on him for his help or advice and he would make himself available to assist in whatever way he could, be it spiritually, financially or just needing someone to listen. Abbot Claude will be remembered for all the kindness he showed to everyone. He was a leader, a spiritual father, a friend and an inspiration. We are happy that he is completely in God's hands. He will be greatly missed. Fr. Abbot Claude said that he really wanted to stay on earth a little longer to witness God's power and glory at Armaggedon. So now he has a "front row seat!" Please don't forget to pad his journey with prayers.Information obtained from the Prince of Peace Abbey website on 9/20/2007.