Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

 

Preview Episode - Remembering Fr. Rupert

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BR. JOEL: Hi, this is Br. Joel.

BR. KOLBE: And this is Br. Kolbe, we're the podcast hosts of Echoes from the Bell Tower. Next week, we will release a full episode about monastic funeral practices.

BR. JOEL: In that episode, we introduce you to Fr. Rupert Ostdick. Fr. Rupert was a Saint Meinrad monk who died in January of 2017.

BR. KOLBE: We recorded a lot of great memories about Fr. Rupert, but not all of these stories fit into the full episode. We decided to compile a couple of these stories here.

BR. JOEL: You will hear stories from Fr. Gavin Barnes, Br. William Sprauer, Fr. Christian Raab, Br. Simon Herrmann and Krista Neuman.

BR. KOLBE: Fr. Rupert's cousin, Fr. Thomas Ostdick, was also a monk of Saint Meinrad. We'll start with this story from Fr. Gavin about Fr. Rupert and Fr. Thomas.

FR. GAVIN: And then there was the time when Fr. Thomas had become academic dean and then, finally, rector of the college for several years. It was very clear that Thomas was a nighthawk; he did his best work after hours. And after the work was done, then he would have to relax a little bit. So that meant he got to bed rather late most of the time.

And Rupert, of course, was in one of his many administrative offices at the time and lived in the monastery and was able to go to Morning Prayer every morning and so forth. And in the very early days, it was still the 4:00 prayer hour, you know. And Thomas would not make this early hour and Rupert knew that. And Rupert instinctively did not approve of this.

So that if he ever had any business with Thomas, he would do it first thing in the morning, and do it by phone and call and say, when he heard who it was, and say, "Did I awake you?" Ooooo, hahaha.

BR. WILLIAM: Were you guys here when Fr. Rupert had his metal cane that was two sections?

BR. KOLBE: Uh, no I don't remember that.

BR. JOEL: No, I don't think I was either.

BR. WILLIAM: So he had this metal cane. He would walk down the slype, and everyone's in the church and you could hear this tap, tap, tap all the way down the slype. And it was so loud and it would echo all through the slype and into the church, you know how the church is really resonant.

And everyone knew Fr. Rupert was coming down the slype. So I think I was a novice at the time. We were leaving the church going into the refectory for lunch and he was standing next to me in line and I said, "Hey Fr. Rupert, let me look at that cane." 'Cause I was trying to figure out how I could make it less noisy, less loud.

He couldn't hear it, because at this point he was going deaf and he can't really tell that it's so loud. But after that day is when he switched to a wooden cane because I had just kind of told him, wow, this is really loud.

He always used that as an example of fraternal correction, both giving fraternal correction and kind of accepting it.

BR. KOLBE: Fraternal correction is when you politely correct another member of the community.

BR. WILLIAM: I always thought that was cool that he just accepted that so well.

And the other thing, here's this 90-year-old guy, who some little young pipsqueak is telling him that his cane is really noisy and bothersome, but he's still fine with changing.

BR. JOEL: We've heard about how physically fit Fr. Rupert was during his monastic career. Fr. Abbot has talked about him playing tennis, Fr. Gavin talked about weight lifting, and he also was a cyclist. Here's Fr. Christian.

FR. CHRISTIAN: I used to go ride bikes with him and he was like 85 at the time and I was about 30, and we would ride and I wouldn't be able to keep up with him. He was that fit, even that late in life.

Then, you know, he would stop and I would catch up, and he would look out on the horizon and he would point out each house and he would tell me who lived there, and how old they were and how they were related to other people in the area.

It was just amazing to me that he was so aware of people and he cared about all these people and kind of knew them, and knew who they were and knew their stories. I loved that about Fr. Rupert.

BR. KOLBE: Fr. Rupert was a good example for us younger monks of how to live theRule of St. Benedict. Br. Simon has a story from when he was a novice, helping monks with technology.

BR. SIMON: When I was a novice, I noticed that a lot of our monks were wanting to do things with technology that they just weren't quite adept at doing, so I thought, "Why not, once a week, give up maybe an afternoon to help these guys?"

So I put a little notice out on the Community Bulletin, which is our inner monastery news update that comes out once a week, and I said, "On Friday afternoons, if anyone needs help with technology, I'm willing to help."

So Fr. Rupert called me up one day and he said, "Brother, can you help me this Friday?" And I said, "Yes, of course." I was helping him with some kind of problem with his computer and it had been kind of a long day. I was like, "Okay, I just need to get in there, help him take care of it, and leave."

When I sat down at his computer, he's like, "Wait a minute. Let's pray." What really struck me about that is in the prologue of theRule of St. Benedict, St. Benedict encourages that any time we start a good work that we start it with prayer, so that way God can bring it to completion.

I was like, "This is a man that has lived theRuleand understands what it means and how important it is." That has really stayed with me that it's so important to pray before we begin, to allow God to be a part of that experience.

BR. JOEL: Krista Neuman is the supervisor of the monastery infirmary. She has a lot of memories of Fr. Rupert, but there is one more recent memory that sticks out. During the monastery and infirmary renovation in 2015, the infirmary temporarily moved to the first floor of Anselm Hall. Her story is from that time when the infirmary was in Anselm Hall.

KRISTA: Anyone who knows Fr. Rupert can tell you stories about his impeccable memory and his preciseness, which was not just attention to detail. One memory in particular that stands out for me was his response to preparing for our move back to the infirmary after our renovation.

Months ahead of the move, he came to me and asked which room he was going to be in when we moved back over. Now mind you, it was still under construction at this point and I had been over to see it maybe once or twice.

Once I did have the room assignments laid out, I let him know which room he would occupy. He set out to determine how he was going to arrange his new room. He got another monk to take him over after the construction crews had left for the evening to scope out his new space.

The next day, he thanked me for giving him such a wonderful room, even though there was nothing special about this room or different than any other room. Then he asked me if I had the blueprints for this room … I laughed, although not entirely surprised. I told him no, that I did not have the blueprints; I left those to the construction crew. He smiled and said that was fine and he would find somebody else who had them.

He did get ahold of them and his next step was to measure every wall in his room down to the centimeter, including the walls in the bathroom. He then used those measurements, along with the measurements he already had of every piece of furniture that he owned, to decide exactly how his room should be laid out in order to precisely fit everything in there.

By the time we all moved back over, he had in his head exactly how he thought it should be set up. He even enlisted his own crew to personally assist him with furniture placement and set-up. He was still living out of boxes that were stashed in the hallway outside of his room for weeks after the move. But you had better believe he knew exactly what was in that room and where it was!

He was a brilliant, patient, warm-hearted, wonderfully kind man who was always very appreciative. He frequently would stop in the hall just to say thank you and that he was grateful for everything that we did for him. That is what I will always remember about Fr. Rupert.

BR. JOEL: Thank you for listening to this short episode of memories about Fr. Rupert. He loved being a monk of Saint Meinrad and we hope we honored his memory with these stories.

BR. KOLBE: This preview episode was edited and produced by Krista Hall, with the help of Br. Joel Blaize, Br. Kolbe Wolniakowski, Br. William Sprauer, Mary Jeanne Schumacher, Jim Paquette, Tammy Schuetter and Christian Mocek. The music for this podcast was written and produced by Br. Joel.

BR. JOEL: A special thanks to the late Fr. Gavin Barnes, Br. William Sprauer, Fr. Christian Raab, Br. Simon Herrmann and Krista Neuman for sharing their stories with us.

BR. KOLBE: You won't want to miss our full episode on monastic funeral practices, so don't forget to subscribe to Echoes from the Bell Tower on iTunes, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts.

BLOOPER: BR. KOLBE: He was treasurer of the Archabbey for 31 years. Oh my goodness, that was longer than I've been alive.

BR. JOEL: Not me.