Cover photo for Fr. Odilo Burkhardt's Obituary
Fr. Odilo Burkhardt Profile Photo
1918 Fr. 2012

Fr. Odilo Burkhardt

May 4, 1918 — December 30, 2012

On December 30, 2012 at 8:15am, our confrere and a founding member of Blue Cloud Abbey, Father Odilo Burkhardt, died peacefully at St William's Care Center in Milbank, South Dakota. He had been a resident there since September 2010, suffering from Alzheimer's disease. At the time of his death he was the oldest member of Blue Cloud Abbey and of the Swiss American Benedictine Congregation.

Father Odilo was born Arthur George Burkhardt on May 4, 1918, in Indianapolis, Indiana, to Arthur and Lillian (Chabloz) Burkhardt. He grew up there and, after his mother's death in 1924, at St Vincent's Orphanage, Vincennes, Indiana, spending the summers with his grandparents in Indianapolis. As a young man he worked as a professional photographer, a talent he exercised for the rest of his life.

Father Odilo professed his monastic vows at St Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana on August 10, 1945 and was ordained a priest on May 30, 1950. He was assigned to Blue Cloud Abbey in 1952, having studied at the Catholic University of America for two years in preparation for a teaching career at the newly founded abbey, which studies he regularly renewed at various workshops and by a year's sabbatical in Paris France in later life. He transferred his monastic vows to Blue Cloud Abbey on March 21, 1954.

His monastic career at Blue Cloud Abbey was quite varied. He faithfully and carefully carried out a number of assignments. He was, at various times, photographer, teacher, retreatmaster, pastor, ecumenist, missionary, archivist, librarian, subprior, director of clerics and studies, and treasurer (which job he often said was "not my cup of tea"). His "cup of tea" was more to design the windows of the abbey church rather than to arrange to pay for them. He was known as "Padre Arturo" during his missionary career in Guatemala, where he accomplished many apostolic works.

Places which were enriched by his humble and dignified presence were: Resurrection Priory in Coban, Guatemala; St Joseph Parish, Devils Lake, ND; St Lawrence Parish, Milbank, SD St Mary's Parish, Wilmot, SD; St Meinrad Archabbey; St William's Care Center; and Blue Cloud Abbey, his monastic home.

When Blue Cloud Abbey was closed August 5, 2012, his comment was: "What a shame, but God's will be done". In one of his lucid moments he asked where various confreres were transferring their monastic vows. His comment was: "Perhaps I should remain here". He remained at St William's Care Center until he left us to be with the Lord.

His parents and brothers, Francis and Edward died before him, also Sister Mary Clothilde, his sister, a member of the Monastery of the Immaculate Conception of Ferdinand, Indiana. He is survived by his sister, Mary Doyle, of Indianapolis, Indiana, and many nieces and nephews. He is also survived by his fellow monks now scattered in various monasteries in this country and Guatemala.

We ask the members of the Swiss American Benedictine Congregation and all other Benedictines to remember Fr Odilo in their prayers for the deceased. A funeral Mass will be held in the chapel at St William's Home. This will be followed later by the Funeral with Burial at St Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana. May he rest in peace, joy, and dignity, as he lived.

Abbot Denis Quinkert, OSB, and the monks of Blue Cloud Abbey

Visitation

St. William's Chapel
100 9th Street South
Milbank, SD 57252

Monday, December 31, 2012
9:00 AM - 10:00 AM

Service

St. William's Chapel
100 9th Street South
Milbank, SD 57252

Monday, December 31, 2012
10:00 AM

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