August 5, 2016

Benedictine monks celebrate jubilees at Saint Meinrad

Criterion staff report

The Benedictine monks at Saint Meinrad Archabbey in St. Meinrad celebrated the 60th priesthood ordination jubilee of Benedictine Father Mel Patton and the 50th priesthood ordination jubilees of Benedictine Father John McMullen and Benedictine Father Warren Heitz on May 29.

Father Mel Patton, a native of Fairview Village (now Fairview Park), Ohio, made his first profession of vows on July 31, 1953, and was ordained to the priesthood on Sept. 22, 1956. He earned his bachelor’s degree from John Carroll University in Cleveland, a master of divinity from Saint Meinrad School of Theology, and did post-graduate work at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wis.

Prior to coming to Saint Meinrad, Father Mel served in the Army from 1944-46, where he received the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.

At Saint Meinrad, he taught Latin, English, music and journalism at the former Saint Meinrad High School and College. He was also organist for the monastic community for many years. He served as director of retreats and director of public relations at Saint Meinrad and as a chaplain at Fort Knox in Kentucky for many years.

After his career as a teacher, he ministered as the chaplain for Holy Angels Convent in Jonesboro, Ark., and later as the infirmary chaplain at Sacred Heart Monastery in Yankton, S.D. He currently resides in the monastery infirmary.

Father John McMullen is a native of Vincennes, Ind. He became a monk of the former Blue Cloud Abbey in Marvin, S.D., on Aug. 1, 1960, and made his first profession of vows on Aug. 15, 1961.

He studied at the former Saint Meinrad High School and Saint Meinrad College from 1955-60, completing his undergraduate studies at Blue Cloud Abbey. He studied theology at St. Bede Abbey in Peru, Ill., and was ordained a priest on May 29, 1966. He did graduate studies at The Catholic University of America in Washington from 1967-69. He holds a master’s degree in library science.

As a monk of Blue Cloud, he served in various assignments, including 40 years as the abbey librarian. He also ministered in area parishes and as the abbey treasurer. He served the Native Americans at St. Ann’s Indian Mission in Belcourt, N.D., for three years. When Blue Cloud Abbey closed in 2013, Father John transferred to Saint Meinrad Archabbey.

Newly elected Benedictine Archabbot Kurt Stasiak recently appointed Father John to serve as prior (second in authority) of Saint Meinrad Archabbey. He also ministers as an adjunct priest at St. Meinrad Parish in St. Meinrad and St. Boniface Parish in Fulda, and as a commuting chaplain for Monastery Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand, Ind.

Father Warren Heitz is a native of Huntingburg, Ind., coming to Saint Meinrad as a high school student in 1954. He completed high school, college and theology studies at Saint Meinrad. He joined the monastery in 1960, and made his first profession of vows on Aug. 15, 1961. He was ordained a priest on May 1, 1966.

He also studied at the University of Notre Dame in northern Indiana, earning a master’s degree in institutional administration in 1972. Father Warren has served in a variety of assignments, including assistant business manager, purchasing agent, director of corporate services, director of alumni relations, and parish assistance.

He currently serves as the editor of the Ordo for the Swiss-American Benedictine Congregation. †

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