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Wednesday, Sep. 5th 2018

Brother Jeremiah Tuttle, O.S.B., enters eternal rest

In the hours before dawn on Wednesday 5 September 2018, our beloved confrere,
Brother Jeremiah Tuttle, O.S.B.,

heeding the call of the Lord to set aside the cares of this life, passed unburdened into the joys of heaven. Brother Jeremiah came to monastic life in his mid-forties; prior to this he worked in counseling and rehabilitation. During this period of his life, he became attracted to the Roman Catholic faith, and the possibility of a religious vocation began to take shape in his mind. Having been raised in the strong tradition of the Church of the Brethren, he undertook this momentous change with deep and abiding faith in the Lord, who remained his constant guide in the new way of life which was to be his until his death.

Dennis Clark Tuttle was born in the town of WaKeeney, Kansas, to Delbert and Martha (Carlson) Tuttle, the oldest of their four children. Raised in Quinter, Kansas, he was baptized in the Church of the Brethren there on 14 April 1963. He attended public schools, graduating from Quinter High School in 1969. After what he would obliquely describe as a “dissipated youth,” Dennis entered a treatment program in which he confronted the personal demons that had left him depressed and dissatisfied with the course of his life up to that time. He then entered Barton County Community College, earning an associate degree in psychology in 1976. He took up work in Great Bend, Kansas, at a training center for developmentally disabled adults, eventually becoming a work adjustment specialist and case manager for the residents there. In 1983 Dennis suffered a relapse and entered a second treatment program for substance abuse. This time he was able to maintain success with his sobriety; he became an alcohol- and drug-addiction counselor in the facility where he had undergone treatment, earning the respect and plaudits of his co-workers as an effective listener who could offer authentic help and support to others enmeshed in the difficulties that he himself had traversed.

What might be considered a chance of circumstance opened the door that eventually brought Dennis to the Catholic faith and monastic life. He was vacationing with a friend in Colorado where they “stumbled upon” the Cistercian monastery of St. Benedict in the mountain town of Snowmass. While sitting in the chapel there, Dennis underwent what he described as “an experience that stayed with me,” in which he became sensible of “Something”— his word for the inarticulate awareness of a presence that revealed to him the inadequacy of his life as he was living it. Once back in Kansas, he eventually approached Fr. Robert Schremmer, the pastor of the local Catholic parish in Larned, with whom he began to investigate the possible meanings of his experience. He came to recognize the “Something” of his experience as God present to him in a way he had never known, urging him towards “something” more complete. With the pastor’s guidance, Dennis was received into the Catholic Church in 1992 and began to investigate the possibility of religious life. Dennis made visits to Conception Abbey, and in 1996 petitioned to enter the novitiate. In 1997 he made first profession of monastic vows, receiving the religious name of Jeremiah in honor of the prophet whose own vocation was so fraught with doubt and struggle before ultimate fulfillment.

Brother Jeremiah’s life of monastic service began with an assignment as Assistant to Director of Computer Services, a position he held from 1997–99, while serving concurrently as Assistant Guestmaster. He then began the work that occupied much of the rest of his monastic life in sales and marketing for The Printery House of Conception Abbey (1999–2018). During this period he also worked at various times as Assistant with Phone Maintenance (2000–01), Sacristan in the Abbey Basilica (2001–14), and Monastery Porter (2018). He also served as one of the community’s principal cantors; his clear tenor voice enriched countless liturgies over the years, both as a soloist and as a member of the monastic schola. When Brother Jeremiah came down with COPD, he was obliged to curtail his activities significantly. He moved into the community Infirmary, and as his condition deteriorated, he was placed on Hospice Care in the early months of 2018.

Brother Jeremiah was deeply faithful to both the ora et labora (prayer and work) of his monastic life, but his life of spiritual service reached beyond the walls of the monastery in a singular way. In the mid-1980s a Dominican friend acquainted Brother Jeremiah with the case of a former student of hers who had been convicted of murder and was facing execution in Oklahoma. She spoke of the man’s gradual acceptance of responsibility for his life and his crimes, and asked Brother Jeremiah if he might write to him. Through their subsequent correspondence, a mutually respectful spiritual friendship developed. Telling him of the realities of monastic life, Brother Jeremiah wryly acknowledged its occasional similarities to prison life. Two weeks before the man’s eventual execution, Brother Jeremiah visited him in prison; the encounter was emotionally harrowing yet deeply meaningful for both of them. “I don’t know what I was able to do for him,” Brother Jeremiah recalled, adding “I only know what he brought into my life.”

Brother Jeremiah is survived by his brother Scott Tuttle of Hays KS; his sister Melissa Riegel also of Hays KS; his brother J. Sheldon Tuttle of Kansas City MO; his aunts Jan Peterson of Las Cruces NM and Roma Tuttle of Quinter KS; by nieces and nephews, as well as by his monastic confreres.

Vespers of the Faithful Departed were prayed at 7:15 p.m. on Monday, 10 September 2018, and Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, 11 September 2018. We entreat you to offer the traditional prayers for the repose of the soul of our beloved confrere. May he rest in the peace of Christ!

Abbot Benedict and Community

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