Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church


Six monks celebrate jubilees of profession

July 29, 2013

Pic _news _2013_Profession JubileeThe 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, 50 years.

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 America.

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 Theology.

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 1963.

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 Australia.

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 monastery infirmary.

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 Rome.

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 Rome.

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 photo.