Six monks celebrate jubilees of profession
July 29, 2013
The Benedictine monks at Saint Meinrad Archabbey,
St. Meinrad, IN, celebrated jubilees of monastic profession for six
of their confreres on July 28, 2013. Honored for his 70-year
jubilee was Fr. Richard Hindel. Also honored were Fr. Damian
Schmelz, Fr. Columba Kelly and Fr. Mel Patton, celebrating 60 years
of monastic profession; and Fr. Noël Mueller and Fr. Ephrem Carr,
Fr. Richard is a native of Indianapolis, IN. He
professed his vows on August 6, 1943, and was ordained a priest on
May 27, 1947. He had a long career as a teacher and administrator
in Saint Meinrad's high school and college seminary. He earned a
master's degree in biology in 1961 from The Catholic University of
He served as subprior (third in leadership) in the monastery
from 1955-63. Other assignments included serving as kitchen master
and as superintendent of buildings and maintenance, receiving
national prominence for his involvement in the National Executive
Housekeepers Association Inc. He also served two years as dean of
students and four years as vice rector at Saint Meinrad School of
From 1987 to 2007, he served as a pastor or administrator of
several parishes in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, including St.
John Parish, Starlight; St. Isidore Parish, Bristow; St.
Bartholomew Parish, Columbus; and St. John the Evangelist Parish,
Indianapolis. He now resides in the monastery infirmary.
Fr. Damian is a native of Georgetown, IN. He
professed his monastic vows on July 31, 1953, and was ordained a
priest on May 3, 1958. After earning a bachelor's degree in
theology from Saint Meinrad and The Catholic University of America,
he studied at Purdue University, earning a master's in plant
ecology in 1964 and a PhD in that field in 1969.
Fr. Damian taught biology at Saint Meinrad's high school and
college for nearly 40 years. He also served as academic dean,
provost and vice rector of the college and was a member of the
school's Board of Trustees.
In addition, he served on the Indiana Natural Resources
Commission from 1975-2008. He is known for his research on Indiana
old-growth forests and his work as chair of a committee assigned to
study controlled deer hunts in Brown County State Park. He is an
inaugural member of the Indiana Conservation Hall of Fame and the
recipient of the Lifetime Conservation Achievement Award.
In 2010, a 77-acre addition to Donaldson's Woods Nature Preserve
at Spring Mill State Park was dedicated in his honor. He has served
as pastor of St. Henry Parish in St. Henry, IN, since 2001.
Fr. Columba, a native of Williamsburg, IA,
professed his monastic vows on July 31, 1953, and was ordained to
the priesthood July 5, 1958. He then studied in Rome, earning a
licentiate in sacred theology from Sant' Anselmo in 1959 and a
doctorate from the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music in
Fr. Columba was the Archabbey choirmaster for many years,
beginning in 1964. During that time, he began composing
English-language chants based on the principles used to create the
original Gregorian Chant repertory. That same year, he began
teaching in the Saint Meinrad schools. Fr. Columba served as prior
(second in leadership) of the monastery from 1978-84.
He taught summer sessions at the St. Joseph College Liturgical
Music Program in Rensselear, IN, from 1964-72. He has led numerous
workshops on chant throughout the United States, at the Abbey of
Solesmes in France and for Benedictine communities in
In addition to composing, he gives workshops and publishes
extensively in scholarly journals. He also has written two books on
chant. He is an adjunct faculty member at Saint Meinrad Seminary
and School of Theology.
Fr. Mel made his first profession of vows on
July 31, 1953, and was ordained to the priesthood on September 22,
1956. He is a native of Fairview Village (now Fairview Park), OH.
He earned his bachelor's degree from John Carroll University, a
Master of Divinity from Saint Meinrad School of Theology and did
post-graduate work at Marquette University.
Prior to coming to Saint Meinrad, Fr. Mel served in the Army
from 1944-46, where he received the Purple Heart and the Bronze
Star. He taught Latin, English, music and journalism at Saint
Meinrad's high school and college. He was also an organist for the
monastic community for many years.
He has been director of retreats and director of public
relations at Saint Meinrad and served as a chaplain at Fort Knox,
KY, for many years.
After his career as a teacher, he was the chaplain for Holy
Angels Convent in Jonesboro, AR, and, later, the infirmary chaplain
at Sacred Heart Monastery in Yankton, SD. He now resides in the
Fr. Ephrem, a native of Toledo, OH, professed
his monastic vows on August 15, 1963, and was ordained a priest on
September 24, 1967. He received a licentiate in Eastern Church
studies in 1970 from the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome. In
1978, he received his doctorate in theology from Sant' Anselmo in
In addition to teaching at Saint Meinrad from 1970-78 and
1981-87, he served as academic dean of the School of Theology for
six years. He also served as subprior (third in leadership) of the
monastery from 1978-86.
Fr. Ephrem was on the faculty at Pontifical Athenaeum
Sant'Anselmo from 1986-2013, where he taught courses in Oriental
liturgy, Oriental monasticism and Syriac. He is also the author and
editor of many scholarly articles and books. From 2008-12, he
served as president of the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy in
Fr. Noël is a native of Louisville, KY, and he
professed his monastic vows on August 15, 1963. He was ordained a
priest on September 22, 1968.
From 1969 to 1980, he served at Saint Meinrad's mission in
Huaraz, Peru, teaching English and religion and serving as
coordinator of both the Office of Liturgy and Marriage Encounter in
the Diocese of Huaraz, as well as other duties.
He earned a master's degree in English literature from the
University of Louisville in 1985 and taught for 13 years at Saint
Meinrad College. He has also served as monastery guest master, and
as associate director of continuing education and associate dean
for housing and food services for the School of Theology.
Currently, he serves as the secretary to the archabbot and as a
spiritual director and retreat director.
Photo: From left are Benedictine monks Fr.
Columba Kelly, Fr. Ephrem Carr, Fr. Noël Mueller, Fr. Mel Patton
and Fr. Damian Schmelz. Fr. Richard Hindel was unavailable for the