Service to the Church

Jubilee Celebrations of 2023

ABBOT MARCEL   |   FR. XAVIER   |   FR. QUENTIN   |  BR. JUSTIN   |    FR. MARTIN    |    BR. ELIAS     |    FR. REGINALD 


Abbot Marcel Rooney, OSB | 60 years ordained


Abbot Marcel has exercised his 60 years of priesthood primarily as a teacher of theology and liturgy to seminarians, priests and laity, first at Conception Seminary, then in Rome at the Benedictine University, later at Magdalen College in New Hampshire and in the Dioceses of Tulsa and Madison. He put his teaching into practice not only as teacher but also as choirmaster and novicemaster in the monastery, as parish priest in Springfield, Missouri, and Brinkley, Arkansas, as chaplain to the Franciscan Sisters in Savannah, Missouri, and as spiritual director to many individuals. But his priesthood was especially evident in his service as Abbot of Conception and Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Order, when he especially imitated the Good Shepherd’s care, sacrifice, and self-gift. Abbot Marcel resides in the Abbey’s infirmary, continuing his priestly ministry through prayer for the world.

Abbot Benedict Neenan, OSB


Fr. Xavier Nacke, OSB | 60 years ordained


St. Benedict writes: “The concern must be whether the novice truly seeks God and whether he shows eagerness for the Work of God, for obedience and for trials” (58:7). After 60 years of being ordained, Fr. Xavier is certainly not a novice in monastic life, but rather a much-revered senior member who has made his presence known through numerous roles such as vocation director, and juniormaster, Director of Spiritual Formation in the seminary college, and most especially as a spiritual father to many priests, monks, and lay men and women. But, merely listing Fr. Xavier’s assignments and roles, would not actually capture the man who has served the Church and this community faithfully as a priest for 60 years. After these many years, Fr. Xavier still seeks God and shows eagerness for the Work of God, and we are grateful to be the beneficiaries of his wisdom, counsel, and friendship.

Fr. Paul Sheller, OSB


Fr. Quentin Kathol, OSB | 60 years ordained


Fr. Quentin has long been dedicated to the study and service of words—both human and divine. Asking him for a word on 60 years of monastic priesthood, he wrote: “In this twofold vocation, I have had many opportunities for priestly service in the various monastic assignments I received. Now, after 60 years of this, at age 87, I look back with gratitude that things have worked out well because of God’s interventions.” Indeed, gratitude is a keyword in the spiritual life, especially as one grows older. Being an ordained priest as a monk only adds to the richness of the monastic life. Thank you, Fr. Quentin, for your dedication to words and the Word.

Br. Luke Kral, OSB


Br. Justin Hernandez, OSB | 50 years professed


Br. Justin Hernandez came to Conception from Des Moines, Iowa in 1970 in order to begin his first year of studies in the seminary. He entered the novitiate in the summer of 1972, with profession of vows following in 1973. The years have since been filled with assignments that have served his brothers in the monastery and the students in Conception Seminary College, where he has been an instructor in Philosophy, Mathematics and Spanish, all the while serving as Financial Aid Officer and also assisting in a major way with the athletic programs. For a number of years, he was also Director of Food Services.

Br. Justin is dedicated to the prayer life of the community, especially through the use of his voice as a cantor. On innumerable mornings, he has called his fellow monks to prayer at Vigils: “O Lord, open my lips and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.” All of these accomplishments are worthy of recognition, but in Br. Justin, we are most grateful for his presence among us, his fidelity, loyalty, and authentic care and concern for all with whom he comes in contact. It has been a grace-filled and fruitful 50 years.

Br. Bernard Montgomery, OSB


Fr. Martin DeMeulenaere, OSB | 50 years ordained


Since his priestly ordination on August 17, 1973, Fr. Martin has ministered as a bridge to Jesus Christ. His gentle demeanor and welcoming attitude in particular point to the Savior who made himself available to all who sought the love and forgiveness of God, qualities that now serve him well in his work as porter, as he greets guests when they arrive on campus and receives phone calls inquiring about Conception.

A debilitating condition now prevents Fr. Martin from presiding at Mass on a regular basis. In more than 50 years of priesthood, however, he has found no limit to the ways a priest can bring Christ to the faithful. Throughout his life as a priest, whether as a pastor, nurse, or spiritual director, Fr. Martin has shown the concern Jesus has for those in need and the sacrifice necessary to care for them, opened the way to Christ in the Scriptures, and prayed fervently for the Church and the world. Thank you, Fr. Martin, for your good and faithful service!

Fr. Victor Schinstock, OSB


Br. Elias Zaczkiewicz, OSB | 25 years professed


In this 150th-anniversary year of the foundation of Conception Abbey, we also joyfully celebrate the 25th jubilee of the monastic profession of our Br. Elias Zaczkiewicz. A native of Corry, Pennsylvania, Br. Elias entered the novitiate of Conception Abbey in 1997, professed first vows in 1998 and solemn vows in 2001. A man of many talents, Brother Elias has generously served the community over this quarter century in many capacities: Abbey Center for Prayer and Ministry and Assistant Guestmaster, instructor in the ESL program, seminary chaplain and manager of the Abbey Gift Shop. Currently, Br. Elias serves Conception Seminary College as Director of the Diaconate Formation program, Director of International Students, Chair of the Theology Department, academic advisor and theology instructor. He also does many behind-the-scene tasks within the monastery as Almoner, Vestiarius and faithful compiler of the weekly readings for the Liturgy of the Hours.

Br. Elias says “The most important thing God has done for me in the monastic life was give me a sense of purpose. Before I was a monk, I merely existed—floating through life. Now I have the mission to praise God, to pray for the needs of the world, and to be a witness to the heavenly kingdom.”

Br. Michael Marcotte, OSB


Fr. Reginald Sander, OSB | 60 years ordained


Before passing in September, Fr. Reginald Sander celebrated 60 years as a priest in May 2023. A full account of his life and service to the Church can be found on page 23 of this issue of Tower Topics.

Posted in ,