Father Bernard Schaefer, O.S.B.
Monk of Marmion Abbey
God of blessings, source of all holiness,
the voice of your Spirit has drawn countless
men and women to follow Jesus Christ and
to bind themselves to you with ready will and
Look with mercy on Father Bernard who
sought to fulfill his vows to you, and grant
him the reward promised to all good and
May he rejoice in the company of the
saints and with them praise you forever.
Through Christ our Lord.
Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.
On July 19, 2021 our confrere Father Bernard Schaefer, O.S.B. died peacefully in the Lord. He was 90 years old, a professed monk for almost 70 years, and a priest for 65 years.
Father Bernard was born on January 13, 1931 in Aurora, IL and was raised in a loving family with eight siblings. He was baptized with the name of John at St. Joseph Church in Aurora. He attended Marmion Military Academy for one year then transferred to St. Meinrad Seminary, graduating in 1950. He entered the newly established Marmion Abbey and professed his first vows on August 6, 1951, taking the name of Bernard. After studies at St. Procopius Seminary, he was ordained to the priesthood on May 26, 1956. In the following years, he earned a Master of Education degree and a Master of Arts degree in counseling.
After ordination, Fr. Bernard taught Latin and Religion at Marmion Military Academy. In 1969, he began to serve our nation as an Army chaplain. His first overseas tour of duty was in Vietnam (1971). From 1972 and 1976 there was a break in his active military service. In August 1972, he served in parochial ministry as an associate pastor at three parishes in Southern California. During this period, Fr. Bernard survived a serious car accident which led to his sobriety. He became deeply involved with Alcoholics Anonymous and the Catholic charismatic renewal movement. He re-entered the Armed Forces in 1976 to once again serve as an Army chaplain. In addition to Vietnam, he also served in Korea, Kuwait (Operation Desert Storm, 1990-91), Germany, Turkey, and various Army bases in the United States. He served as an Army chaplain for a total of 23 years.
Fr. Bernard retired from military service in 1995 and returned to Marmion Abbey. He devoted himself to sharing in the work of Marmion Abbey and Marmion Academy as well as serving the Catholic Church of the Fox River Valley area in parochial assistance work. From 1996-2003 he served as the Academy’s faculty and staff chaplain. One of his special ministries was ministering to people battling alcoholism, since he himself had achieved sobriety for many years. He was a popular retreat master for groups of recovering alcoholics and served many as spiritual director. He was also very active in bereavement ministry, celebrating funerals and officiating at wake services in local parishes and funeral homes.
In his final few years, Fr. Bernard was less active due to his declining health and physical limitations. However, he remained faithful to daily prayer and to the abbey’s community life, while maintaining a good spirit and sense of humor.
Fr. Bernard was preceded in death by his parents, Jacob and Anna (Weigel) and by his siblings Albert, Katharine, Frederick, Barbara, Dolores and Mary Ann. He is survived by members of his monastic family, his brother Raymond, his sisters Regina Esser and Anne Deutsch, and many nieces and nephews.
May he rest in peace!
Abbot John and Community