Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

Alumni Obituaries

Fr. Odilo Burkhardt, OSB

On Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012, our confrere and a founding member of Blue Cloud Abbey, Father Odilo Burkhardt, died peacefully at St. WilliamGÇÖs Care Center in Milbank. He had been a resident there since September 2010, suffering from AlzheimerGÇÖs disease. At the time of his death he was the oldest member of Blue Cloud Abbey and of the Swiss American Benedictine Congregation.Father Odilo was born Arthur George Burkhardt on May 4, 1918, in Indianapolis to Arthur and Lillian (Chabloz) Burkhardt. He grew up there and, after his motherGÇÖs death in 1924, at St. VincentGÇÖs Orphanage, Vincennes, IN, spending the summers with his grandparents in Indianapolis. As a young man he worked as a professional photographer, a talent he exercised for the rest of his life.Father Odilo professed his monastic vows at Saint Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana on Aug. 10, 1945, and was ordained a priest on May 30, 1950. He was assigned to Blue Cloud Abbey in 1952, having studied at the Catholic University of America for two years in preparation for a teaching career at the newly founded abbey, which studies he regularly renewed at various workshops and by a yearGÇÖs sabbatical in Paris France in later life. He transferred his monastic vows to Blue Cloud Abbey on March 21, 1954.His monastic career at Blue Cloud Abbey was quite varied. He faithfully and carefully carried out a number of assignments. He was, at various times, photographer, teacher, retreat master, pastor, ecumenist, missionary, archivist, librarian, subprior, director of clerics and studies and treasurer (which job he often said was GÇ£not my cup of teaGÇ¥). He was known as GÇ£Padre ArturoGÇ¥ during his missionary career in Guatemala.Places which were enriched by his humble and dignified presence were: Resurrection Priory in Coban, Guatemala; St Joseph Parish, Devils Lake, N.D.; St Lawrence Parish, Milbank, St. MaryGÇÖs Parish, Wilmot; Saint Meinrad Archabbey; St. WilliamGÇÖs Care Center; and Blue Cloud Abbey, his monastic home.When Blue Cloud Abbey was closed Aug. 5, 2012, his comment was: GÇ£What a shame, but GodGÇÖs will be done.GÇ¥ In one of his lucid moments he asked where various confreres were transferring their monastic vows. His comment was: GÇ£Perhaps I should remain here.GÇ¥ He remained at St. WilliamGÇÖs Care Center until he left us to be with the Lord.His parents and brothers, Francis and Edward died before him, also Sister Mary Clothilde, his sister, a member of the Monastery of the Immaculate Conception of Ferdinand, Ind. He is survived by his sister, Mary Doyle of Indianapolis and many nieces and nephews. He is also survived by his fellow monks now scattered in various monasteries in this country and Guatemala.We ask the members of the Swiss American Benedictine Congregation and all other Benedictines to remember Fr. Odilo in their prayers for the deceased.A funeral Mass was held in the chapel at St. WilliamGÇÖs Home today (Monday, Dec. 31) at 10 a.m. This will be followed later by the funeral with burial at Saint Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana. May he rest in peace, joy and dignity, as he lived.From the Watertown, SD Public Opinion.