Photo : Monnik biddend voor een crucifix bij een rivier, Gesina ter Borch, 1643 – ca. 1687 | Rijksmuseum

Abbot Adrian J. Parcher, O.S.B., sixth abbot of St. Martin’s Abbey (1980-1986), passed to God at the Abbey in the early morning hours of Thursday, 20th May 2021. He died peacefully, having received the Sacraments of the Church and the constant care of his monastic confreres during this final illness.

James Parcher was born in Oakland, California, in 1933, and spent more than seventy years associated in some way with St. Martin’s, beginning with his enrollment as a student in St. Martin’s High School. Abbot Adrian made his first vows as a Benedictine monk in 1953, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1959. In 1980, he was elected the sixth abbot of the monastic community.

In addition to academic work at Saint Martin’s College (now University), Abbot Adrian studied at Mount Angel Seminary, Seattle University, Notre Dame, and the University of Connecticut, Storrs, before doing some graduate studies at Oxford, in the U.K. He had a strong interest in Edmund Spenser and in Gerard Manley Hopkins. He served Saint Martin’s College as an English instructor, as its Registrar, as its Vice President for Academic Affairs, and as its Chancellor.

Within the monastic community, he served as Refectorian, Novice Master, and finally Abbot. For a few years he was “on loan” to the American Cassinese Congregation, and served as the Prior-administrator of Saint Mark’s Priory, Kentucky. Abbot Adrian also was popular as a retreat master for religious communities.

Always a voracious reader, reading widely, from the dense theological tomes to the latest Agatha Christie, Abbot Adrian was instrumental in the establishment of a library of books on theology and spirituality within the monastic cloister. During his tenure as Abbot, the Abbey’s annual concert/lecture series, Abbey Church Events, was established, and the Abbey’s Martin of Tours Collection of PNW Art was formalized.

Following his years as abbot, Abbot Adrian exercised his priestly ministry in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and in the Diocese of Spokane, Washington, serving both as chaplain and as a pastor. It was during this period of his life that Abbot Adrian learned to drive and honed his culinary skills, often hosting dinners for the clergy at his residence. He also was a much respected counselor to his parishioners and others.

His appetite for both intellectual stimulation and art remained acute when he retired to the Abbey. He enjoyed visiting the latest gallery exhibits as he also enjoyed reading the latest works of scripture scholars, biographies of historical figures, and an occasional re-reading of a favorite Christie or Dorothy Sayers mystery. He had a prodigious memory, and delighted in regaling others with stories of both the Abbey and schools and the Benedictine world in general.

In addition to his monastic confreres, Abbot Adrian’s survivors include his loving nieces, nephews, and many friends.

The funeral Mass and the burial of Abbot Adrian’s remains in the Abbey Cemetery will be private. You are asked to keep a remembrance of Abbot Adrian and his Benedictine community in your prayers.

Abbot Marion Nguyen OSB & Monastic Community
Saint Martin’s Abbey