Tower Topics - Spring 2016
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Fr. Timothy Enters Eternal Rest
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At 9:10 p.m. on Wednesday, 2 March 2016, our beloved confrere, Father Timothy Schoen, O.S.B., passed unexpectedly into eternity. Earlier in the evening, Father Timothy had informed our Infirmary staff that he was having difficulty breathing. He was taken by ambulance to the emergency room of the Mosaic Life Center in St. Joseph, MO, where efforts to ameliorate his situation proved unavailing. In recent years Father Timothy had suffered from numerous health-related issues, but his condition, though serious, was not seen as immediately life-threatening. But the Lord of the Harvest, who chooses for us the moment we enter earthly life and the moment we depart from it, had determined that the time had come to end the earthly travails of his good servant. When the Master’s call came, Father Timothy was most certainly ready to respond with joy and alacrity.
Frank Anthony Schoen was born in Kansas City, MO, on 4 July 1940, the son of Frank J. and Helen (Immenschuh) Schoen. He was baptized one month later at Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Kansas City and placed under the patronage of Saint Francis. From his early years, Frank displayed a remarkable aptitude for music; at the age of five he took up the piano, moving on to the organ at age 13. His brief flirtation with childhood sports ended abruptly when he broke two fingers making, as he later described it, a “clumsy catch.” Thereafter, at the insistence of his instructors, both his attention and his devotion were given to music.
But music was not the sole object of the young Frank’s attentive devotion. Even as a grade-schooler, he began to recognize the stirrings of an interior inclination to religious devotion as well. The sense of a call to manifest this dedication to God in priestly service gradually emerged, and from that time onward his purpose never wavered. He attended St. John’s Seminary High School in Kansas City, and from there advanced to Conception Seminary College. After earning a Bachelor’s degree in 1961, Frank was sent to study theology at the North American College in Rome, where his matriculation coincided with the most significant ecclesiastical event of the age: the convention of the Second Vatican Council. As a seminarian in Rome Frank thus had an opportunity to observe first-hand some of the events that would come to shape the Church he was preparing to serve. Having completed his seminary studies with a Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology, he was ordained to the priesthood on 16 December 1964.
However, the young Father Frank soon discovered that discernment of his own religious vocation had by no means ended. While a college student at Conception, he had been able to cultivate his personal appreciation for the intimate connection between music and liturgy. His years of work and study among the monks had awakened in him the further recognition that his spiritual life was strongly inclined to contemplation as well as to liturgical prayer. As a pastor, fewer opportunities to engage this facet of his spiritual life were available to him. He eventually found his way to the Shantivanam House of Prayer in Easton, KS, where, under the direction of fellow Conception-alumnus Father Ed Hays, he began a series of monthly contemplative retreats. It was at this time that Father Frank determined to return to Conception Abbey, this time as a postulant seeking entry into the monastic community.
Upon completion of his monastic novitiate, Father Frank professed first monastic vows on 7 September 1985, receiving the name Timothy. His work in the community was, naturally enough, largely focused on music. He was among the principal organists of the abbey from that time onward, and taught classes in voice, piano and organ in the seminary college. He was given the opportunity for further studies, obtaining a master’s degree in Liturgical Music from Saint John’s University, Collegeville MN, in 1996. He was particularly adept at choosing musical pieces perfectly suited to the occasion; few were unmoved by his triumphal performance of Charles-Marie Widor’s famous toccata to accompany the recessional of many an Easter Sunday Vigil Mass, after which spontaneous applause never failed to break forth from his energized hearers.
Father Timothy’s works and interests were not limited to music and liturgy. He served the community in many other capacities as well, from refectorian to porter to assistant choirmaster. He was an avid gardener, and for many years his carefully cultivated African violets graced many sunlit windowsills and tabletops in our monastery common rooms. He was also a great lover of poetry; his homilies were rendered thoughtful and beautiful by frequent allusions to Eliot, Yeats, and especially Auden, whose meditations on the Church’s liturgical life found singular resonance in Father Timothy’s own spiritual pondering. Perhaps more importantly, Father Timothy was also a popular spiritual director, both within the monastic and seminary communities and beyond. He ultimately found that taking up the mantle of monasticism had only enriched his profound dedication to pastoral service in the care of souls.
As both musician and liturgist, Father Timothy was an avowed perfectionist. This personal quality had been the occasion of some dissatisfaction as a pastor in his rural Missouri parishes, where practical concerns often necessarily outweighed aesthetic ideals. As a monk, Father Timothy had greater occasion to exercise his delight in beauty and precision in performance, but he continued to bear his own perfectionism as something of a burden—a burden which his confreres will admit having shared. Yet it too became an occasion for grace, giving Father Timothy an opportunity to cultivate the virtue of patience in a special way. This virtue he was further called upon to exercise in his later years, as diminishing health and mobility took their toll on his ability to live up to his own ideals in the performance of his monastic and priestly duties. His unexpected death, in the heart of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, allows us to reflect on the mercy of God in Father Timothy’s life, as he most certainly reflected on it himself. May he now enjoy the true perfection of the Heavenly Liturgy, where among the choirs of angels and saints he sings the praises of the merciful God whom he served with such dedication as both priest and monk.
Father Timothy is survived by his sister and brother-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Paul B. (Mary Ann) Seibold, Jr., of Gladstone, MO; by his niece, Mrs. Brad (Karen) Evans of Lee's Summit, MO; by his nephew Mr. Paul J. Seibold, also of Gladstone, MO; and by his monastic confreres.
Vespers of the Faithful Departed were prayed at 7:15 p.m. on Friday, 4 March 2016, and Mass of Christian Burial celebrated at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, 5 March 2016. We commend our beloved confrere to your prayerful remembrance. May he rest in eternal peace!
Aerial Video from the Abbey
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The monks of Conception Abbey used a drone with video camera to capture these stunning shots of campus. Even during late January and early February the campus reflects God's beauty.
Please pray for vocations.
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A behind-the-scenes look at the preparations and celebration of Christmas at Conception Abbey.
Monks Give Thanks
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Novice Eric Becomes Brother Luke
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After spending one year in the novitiate, where he discerned and tested his vocation to monastic life, Novice Eric professed first vows in the presence of family, friends, and his monastic brothers. It was a powerful ceremony as Abbot Gregory bestowed upon Novice Eric the name "Luke", under the patronage of the Evangelist St. Luke. Novice Eric was welcomed as one of the community and is now known as Brother Luke. Brother Luke was appointed as the Director of Admissions and Student Activities in Conception Seminary College.
Forming Future Priests
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The monks of Conception Abbey discuss their mission in forming future priests, a task they have been involved in since 1886.
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The Year of Consecrated Life
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Pope Francis has declared 2015 to be The Year of Consecrated Life, which begins with the first Sunday of Advent. The monks of Conception Abbey will continue offering heartfelt prayers for the needs of the Church and the world. We also ask you to join us in praying specifically for vocations to Conception Abbey, to ensure our growth in numbers and in holiness. During this special year, we entrust the cause of vocations to the Master of the Harvest, conscious that it is the grace of the Holy Spirit that stirs the hearts of young people to be courageous and follow Christ and the path that He has prepared for them.
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Conception Abbey hosted the Tri-C Celebration (the communities of Conception, Conception Junction, and Clyde) on Sunday, September 28. It started with the annual Lollipop Parade at 12:30pm, traveling from the St. John Paul II Recreation Center to the Basilica Parking Lot.
The "100 year after" Community picture was taken in front of the Abbey Basilica at 1:00pm. The 1914 picture featured 403 people sitting and standing on the north side of the Abbey Basilica. The picture taken on September 28, 2014 was to commemorate this original picture and celebrate those who helped make the Tri-C area what it is today.
Two Men Enter the Novitiate
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Eric Kral and Joseph Fussner entered the novitiate today in a ceremony this afternoon in the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Members of the community gathered for this joyful occasion, chanting verses of Psalm 84 as Br. Bernard, the Novicemaster, led the two novices-to-be to the altar, where they made their petition.