September 24, 2007

An Obituary for Abbot Claude, O.S.B.

The following is my adaptation of the text that appears on my monastery's website,

On September 17, 2007, the monastery tolled the bell for Abbot Claude Ehringer, O.S.B., who persevered in his monastic commitment for 77 years, and was 60 days short of his 99th birthday. He was an ordained priest for 73 years. Abbot Claude Ehringer was born Charles Perrette Ehringer, to John Ehringer and Margaret Perrette on November 16, 1908, in Jeffersonville, Indiana. He was the second child of five born to this family.

In 1922 he entered St. Meinrad Preparatory School, Indiana, at the age of thirteen years, to undergo formation for the priesthood. He graduated from St. Meinrad Preparatory school in 1927 with 25 other young men— men whose names he would remember with fondness even up to the last years of his life. He entered St. Meinrad College in 1927. In 1929 he would accept his calling to the Benedictine life at St. Meinrad Abbey. Among his class of novices for St. Meinrad, 1929-1930, he was with other monks who would eventually come to California in 1958 to begin a new monastery, St. Charles Priory, which became Prince of Peace Abbey in 1983. These monks were Fr. Rudolph Siedling, O.S.B., Fr. Bernardine Shine, O.S.B., and Fr. Cornelius Waldo, O.S.B.

On August 6, 1930, he professed his temporary vows. He professed his solemn perpetual vows in 1933, and was ordained to the Diaconate on December 23, 1933. On May 22, 1934, he was ordained to the Priesthood. He fondly remembered the men ordained with him, and on his desk in his cell was a remembrance card of those who were ordained with him. On May 27, 1934, he offered his First Mass at his home parish of St. Augustine in Jeffersonville, Indiana. At the time of his death was one of the oldest living members of this parish by church records. His fondness for his parish was well known and he always would offer Mass at the parish when he was in the area.

From 1934 to 1948 Fr. Claude was Assistant Novice Master of the Benedictine clerical students at St. Meinrad. He was also involved in conducting retreats. In 1948, he was appointed Novice Master and Superior of the non-clerical Brothers at St. Meinrad. In 1961 he was assigned to St. Charles Priory at Oceanside, California. Again, he would be heavily involved in retreat work, as St. Charles was becoming a popular retreat center. Fr. Claude would succeed Fr. Rudolph Siedling, O.S.B., the founding prior of the Oceanside Priory on August 26, 1965. Fr. Prior Claude would hold this position of religious superior of the Priory through the dependent and independent years of the Priory's existence. In 1983, the Priory became Prince of Peace Abbey, and Fr. Claude was elected its first abbot of the abbey at the age of 75. He would serve in this capacity until his resignation on August 20, 1994. He always remarked, he never retired but only resigned. This was evident from all the good work that he performed after his resignation. He was a well-respected spiritual mentor to many people and a well-beloved Oblate Director. Membership in the Oblate (“lay Benedictine”) program increased greatly under his leadership.

In his latter years of ill health, he was always positive and never complained. He was always faithful to the Divine Office, and was always the first monk to enter the church early in the morning. He faithfully kept a holy hour every afternoon. He was a most community-minded monk, and would be at all community functions unless ill health prevented him.

When his father was seriously ill he wrote a letter from St. Meinrad providing hope for his father who had just received the Sacrament of Extreme Unction (now called the Anointing of the Sick): "God by granting you the graces of this Sacrament is so preparing you to share with my dear mother in heaven the joys that will one day will be that of our whole family when we are all again together in heaven." His brothers, Edgar and Cornelius, and his sisters, Frances and Margaret, preceded him in death. Nephews and nieces, Mary Sifferlen, Mary Voigt, Kevin Ehringer, Joan Smith, Marsha Underwood, Mary Lynn Jerrell, Charles Voigt, Jim Oeffinger, Dennis Ehringer, and Bobby Ehringer survive him, along with many grandnephews & nieces and great-grandnephews & nieces.

The wake for Abbot Claude will take place in the abbey church on September 26 at 7:00 P.M., and the Funeral Mass will take place on September 27 at 11:00 A.M., with burial immediately after in the abbey cemetery. A reception for the public will follow the burial.

For the repose of his soul three Masses will be offered by each priest of the monastery. The customary suffrages of charity are recommended to all the monks of the Swiss-American Benedictine Congregation.

Abbot Charles and the Monks of Prince of Peace Abbey
Oceanside, California


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