July 17, 2015

Former Benedictine monk, Father Noah Casey was known for ministry of spiritual direction, prayer, liturgy and hospitality

By Sean Gallagher

Father Noah J. CaseyFather Noah J. Casey, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Indianapolis, died of cancer on July 10 at his home in Indianapolis. He was 66.

The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on July 16 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin was the principal celebrant. Father Clyde Crews, a priest of the Archdiocese of Louisville, Ky., was the homilist.

Burial followed in the priests’ circle at Calvary Cemetery in Indianapolis.

Father Patrick Beidelman said his vocation to the priesthood was in part shaped by Father Casey, who was his cousin.

“He always just lit up a room,” said Father Beidelman, 42. “He always brought joy to wherever we crossed paths. Both he and my other cousins who were priests always seemed so happy in the life that they lived, which I’m sure was part of what planted a seed early for me that made the priesthood so appealing.”

Father Beidelman, who serves as executive director of the archdiocesan Secretariat for Spiritual Life and Worship, said his cousin also helped form in him a great love for the Church’s liturgy.

“In a sense, he put flesh on the bones of the Church’s prayer for me and showed how our worship of God could compel us to give ourselves more completely to it,” said Father Beidelman, who is also pastor-rector of SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. “He helped me to be authentic in my relationship with God, and especially how I express that in the context of prayer and liturgy.”

Father Casey’s appreciation for prayer and liturgy was in part formed during the 35 years he spent as a Benedictine monk of Saint Meinrad Archabbey in St. Meinrad.

Benedictine Archabbot Justin DuVall said that Father Casey also embodied the monastic value of hospitality.

In 1969, Archabbot Justin came to Saint Meinrad as a freshman at the college seminary it operated at the time. One of the first people he met was Father Casey, at the time an upperclassman still known by his baptismal name of Joseph.

“Obviously, he was much thinner at that time,” said Archabbot Justin with a laugh, “with dark hair and a beard, but the same sort of piercing blue eyes and the same very gentle welcoming manner that never met a stranger.

“That was 46 years ago, but in my mind it could have been 46 minutes ago. The image is so vivid to me. When you’re new and someone is kind and welcoming, it leaves an impression.”

Father Casey applied his value of hospitality during the last year of his life when he helped bring the members of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish and the former St. Bernadette Parish together as one faith community. St. Bernadette was closed last November as a part of the Connected in the Spirit planning process.

In a 2014 interview with The Criterion, Bob Eha, a former parish council president at St. Bernadette, appreciated how Father Casey, who had grown up in Our Lady of Lourdes Parish and later lived at St. Bernadette, showed great care in bringing the two faith communities together.

“He is a game changer as far as getting people [together], because he is well known by the people,” said Eha.

Over the course of Father Casey’s nearly 40 years of priestly life and ministry, he was also well known for his ministry of spiritual direction. He served on the spiritual formation staff at the former Saint Meinrad College from 1976-95, and as director of ministry to priests for the archdiocese from 1995-2003.

Archabbot Justin said that Father Casey formed many deep relationships with college seminarians.

“He touched any number of lives,” Archabbot Justin said. “I know a lot of those guys … stayed in touch with him. It wasn’t just something he did and, on graduation day, was over. I think, for a number of them, his influence on them was something that lasted a lifetime.”

Msgr. Frederick Easton, adjunct vicar judicial for the archdiocese, received spiritual direction from Father Casey for many years and described him as “a man of a contemplative spirit” who was “a good listener—an active listener.”

“One always came away with something to ponder and reflect upon,” Msgr. Easton said.

Joseph Anthony Casey was born on Jan. 11, 1949, in Indianapolis to Joseph and Marie Casey. He was baptized at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on Jan. 23, 1949.

Father Casey attended grade school at the former SS. Peter and Paul School and Our Lady of Lourdes School, both in Indianapolis. He graduated in 1967 from the former Latin School in Indianapolis, the archdiocese’s high school seminary at the time.

He enrolled at the former Saint Meinrad College in St. Meinrad as an archdiocesan seminarian and graduated in 1971.

In that same year, Father Casey entered the novitiate of Saint Meinrad Archabbey in St. Meinrad. He professed temporary vows in 1972, and was given Noah as a religious name at the time. He kept that name after later becoming a priest of the archdiocese. Father Casey professed solemn vows in 1975.

He received priestly formation at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology, graduating from it in 1976 with a master’s of divinity degree. He was ordained a priest on May 2, 1976, at the Archabbey Church of Our Lady of Einsiedeln in St. Meinrad.

He later earned a master’s degree in religious studies in 1978 at Indiana University in Bloomington and a doctor of ministry degree in spiritual direction in 1981 from the Weston School of Theology in Cambridge, Mass.

As a monk of Saint Meinrad Archabbey, Father Casey served as the associate director of spiritual formation at St. Meinrad College from 1976-82 and as director of spiritual formation from 1982-95.

During the 1980s, Father Casey also periodically ministered at St. Boniface Parish in Fulda and in parishes in Texas and Montana.

From 1995-2003, he served as director of ministry to priests in the archdiocese while living at the former St. Bernadette Parish in Indianapolis.

Beginning in 2003, he was named administrator of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis and later served as its pastor until 2008.

In 2007, Father Casey became a priest of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis through a process known as incardination.

He served as pastor of St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis from 2008-11 and rector of SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral from 2011-14.

Father Casey also ministered as spiritual director of the archdiocese’s deacon formation program from 2011-14.

In 2012, he authored a book titled From Death to Life: A Walk with Christ through the Easter Season.

Father Casey began his last ministry assignment on July 2, 2014, when he became pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes and the former St. Bernadette parishes, both in Indianapolis, and chaplain coordinator of Father Thomas Scecina Memorial High School in Indianapolis.

Memorial gifts may be made to the newly created “Reverend Noah J. Casey Endowment for the Ministry of Spiritual Direction,” managed by the archdiocesan Catholic Community Foundation (CCF). Contributions should be made payable to CCF f/b/o Reverend Noah J. Casey Endowment, and mailed to: 1400 North Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46202. Online gifts may be given at www.archindy.org/ccf/LeavingALegacy. For more information, contact Ellen Brunner at ebrunner@archindy.org or call her at 317-236-1482 or at 800-382-9836, ext. 1482.

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