ASSUMPTION ABBEY

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RICHARDTON, ND 58652


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Assumption Abbey
Richardton, ND


 Abbot Patrick (Donald) Moore, OSB, 73, died August 9, 2012 in a head-on collision south of Belfield, ND.

 Abbot Patrick was born in Devils Lake, ND, June 20, 1939, to Lawrence and Susan (Tiechrow) Moore.  He was second youngest of seven children.

 He entered Assumption Abbey in 1959, and professed Solemn Vows on July 11, 1963. After graduating from St. John’s University, Collegeville, MN, with a Bachelor of Arts degree, he completed seminary studies at Assumption Abbey, Richardton, ND, and was ordained to the priesthood on June 9, 1966.

 During summers of 1965 - 1968, Abbot Patrick studied French at Georgetown University, at the University of Montreal and at Middlebury School of French, with a year in Paris.  In 1975, Abbot Patrick earned a Master of Arts degree in counseling from the University of North Dakota.  During the Summer of 1975, he was at New Orleans, LA, studying communications.  He then became Director of the Communication Centre at Assumption Abbey.



 In September 1977, he became Assistant Pastor of Sacred Heart Church, Glen Ullin, ND, and part-time teacher at the University of Mary, Bismarck, ND.  Abbot Patrick attended the chaplaincy preparation program at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Washington, DC, 1978 – 1979.  He was named as chaplain  to St. Alexius Medical Center, Bismarck, ND, September 1, 1979. He continued in this position until he was elected seventh abbot of Assumption Abbey. From April 6 through August 1, 1995, he served as Administrator of St. Ann’s Church, Hebron, ND.

 On May 28, 2004, at the then required age of 65, Abbot Patrick resigned as abbot. The President of the American Cassinese Congregation of Benedictine Monasteries asked him to serve as Administrator of Mary Mother of the Church Abbey, Richmond, VA.  Abbot Patrick served in that capacity until June 30, 2009.  While at Richmond, he also served as part-time chaplain to a veterans hospital.

 After his return to North Dakota Abbot Patrick was appointed, on August 5, 2009, pastor of St. Mary’s Church, New England, and St. Elizabeth’s Church, Lefor, ND.  He served in this capacity until his death.

 Abbot Patrick is survived by five brothers:  Jerry Moore, Santa Ana, CA, Louis (Jeannie) Moore, Billings, MT, Tom (Judy) Moore, El Cajon, CA, Duane (Vonnie) Moore, Wadena, MN, Mark (Nancy) Moore, Madison, WI, and one sister, Barbara (Jim) Webster.

 A rosary and vigil were  held at St. Mary's Church, New England, ND, Monday, August 13, at 7:00 pm.  On Tuesday, August 14, 10:30 am a Mass of Christian Burial was held with Bishop David Kagan presiding. Another vigil was held at Assumption Abbey on August 14, 7:00 pm.  After the Mass for the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, August 15, 10:30 am, final rites were celebrated with burial at Assumption Abbey Cemetery.

 Abbot Patrick was a high-energy person.  He mixed easily with people and was generous with his time.  He was neat with everything in its place in his office and personal space.

 Each monk of our Abbey will offer three Holy Masses for the repose of his soul.  Each member of the Congregation is asked to remember him in his monthly Mass for the deceased of the Congregation.


MAY HE REST IN PEACE


Abbot Brian and Community


EULOGY:  Abbot Patrick Moore, osb
 (1939-2012)

Moore family—brothers and sister & their spouses, nieces and nephews, his dear aunt-godmother; Abbot Brian & members of the Assumption Abbey monastic community; Fr. Adrian & Bro. Nolte from Mary Mother of God Abbey, Richmond, VA; parishioners of St. Mary’s, New England & St. Elizabeth’s, Lefor; friends all of our beloved Abbot Patrick:


It is most fitting that we meet in this Abbey Church where Patrick Moore made vows as a Benedictine monk, was ordained deacon and then priest, was blessed abbot, and whose renovation became a personal crusade of his just over a decade ago.  In this place he spent many an hour with his brother monks; his bass voice can, I believe, still be heard echoing in its arches.

But before any of these took place a little Donald Moore was born to Lawrence and Susan Moore on June 20, 1939, a special gift to them and to his five siblings: Jerry, Louis, Tom, Duane, and Barbara.  The siblings would be joined by another several years later—Mark—to complete the seven children of Lawrence and Susan.

Donald was born in Devils Lake, the place of origin of this community in 1893 under its founder Vincent Wehrle.  The young Fr. Vincent relocated the community to Richardton in 1899 at the request of Bishop Shanley.  At the centenary in 1999, the by-then-Abbot Patrick, with characteristic rhetorical flourish, spoke of the move as an:  “… exodus of our community from the place of the Devil to the Promised Land….”


The backstory

But I’m getting way ahead of myself.  Little Donald Moore, this second youngest of the seven, had a club foot at birth.  Corrective surgery was done on him as an infant; his mother later reminded him how he’d bang his little cast to get attention.  Some say as abbot of Assumption Abbey he perfected the skill by putting his foot down forcefully when he felt it necessary.

Junior college at the Abbey, monastic novitiate and then profession with the name “Patrick,” a Bachelor of Arts from St. John's University in 1962, seminary studies again at the Abbey before ordination.  All pretty routine.  Except for one thing.  At St. John’s, along with a philosophy major, he picked up a French minor.   

Why French?  “Moore” is not French; and he had German-Russian bloodlines on his mother’s side. Well, French was the only foreign language that fit his schedule.  Whatever the reason, thus began a love affair with everything French.  Patrick became a confirmed Francophile.  Studies in the language led him to universities around the world:  Georgetown, Montreal, Middlebury in Vermont, and the Sorbonne in Paris.  

During a year at the latter he seized the opportunity to travel to the Soviet Union, and sent back regular reports on the excursion, some still memorable 40 years later.  Let a summary of one episode suffice:  Into his baggage he had slipped contraband!  Yes, Patrick the revolutionary.  The item in question:  a Bible.  It was a much sought-after item and he left it behind, claiming, even then, that he had done his personal bit for the conversion of Russia by smuggling in that Bible.  

When his program was over, he did teach French, first at Assumption College and then at the University of Mary, where he also served as chaplain for three years, once Assumption College had closed in 1971.   While never again did he teach French, the French élan never was far from what he did.

In addition to teaching and chaplaincy work, he picked up a degree in Guidance and Counseling from UND.  He padded his résumé further as a pastor in Glen Ullin before clinical pastoral education (cpe) at St. Elizabeth’s psychiatric hospital, in Washington, D.C. (1978-1979).  This was undertaken in preparation for his appointment as chaplain at St. Alexius Medical Center, Bismarck.  Back in ND, he became a pastoral presence to the sick and a teacher for those refining their own clinical pastoral experience.   During it all, his booming bass also became a mainstay in the Bismarck Civic Chorus.   He relished every moment of it.  

All this in two decades.   He later said about his first years as a monk:  “I was very peripatetic in those days!”


An abbatial surprise

Then, in December 1988, the community chose him to be its abbot.  He mused that maybe it was his training at St. Elizabeth’s Mental Hospital that indicated that there was a fit!   At the time of the election as abbot, however, he was quite surprised: “The community had never elected me to anything before, not even the Senior Council.”   Yet the monks knew something about what they were getting; at the election chapter one clearly said, “He does not suffer fools gladly.”

In June 1997 after a visit to the Abbey, Cy Buser, a student here in the 1940s, wrote Fr. Denis:  “… never before did I experience the warmth and friendliness I experienced on this visit to the Abbey.  To me it was a real ‘homecoming.’  … I told Peg that, when … electing an Abbot the monks pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance and after meeting Abbot Patrick, I hope they know their prayers were answered.”

This Francophile brought a joie de vivre to the project of being abbot. He gave the place his stamp, fostering a certain je ne sais quoi ambience.  The sense of care refined by the decade at St. Alexius served him well.   He never lost his panache; his leadership style was “you don’t have to eat a whole egg to know it’s rotten.”  Or as the French would say, “Le style c’est l’homme”: the style and the man are one.

  Patrick tackled the job with verve. A revision of the Abbey’s Book of Customs was soon undertaken.  Within a few years, with a nod to new technologies, a section on cyberspace was added.  He was not, like some, fearful of computers in monasteries.  He saw them as the instruments they were — like cars or TV or telephones — whose use would be governed by the principles of monastic stewardship of time and resources.


Bricks and Mortar

He championed two brick-and-mortar projects that left their imprint on our community.  In 1999 we constructed a walkway from monastery to refectory; this gift to ourselves celebrated our centenary in Richardton.  And how we appreciated it.   The most telling comment came some time later from one of the elder monks:  “Why didn’t we do this years ago?”

The other project we enjoy at the moment:  this Abbey Church.  Efforts at renovation since the 1970s had floundered for one reason or other, checkmated by well-meaning but fearful faithful.  Patrick threw his full weight behind the project and the long-discussed renewal of the space moved from talking to strategizing. The impasse was broken.   Plans were drawn up, compromises made, a successful fund-raising campaign executed, contractors engaged, painters and carpenters and electricians employed.  

For 14 months—from November 2000 to December 2001—this space was the scene of tractors and scaffolding, whirring saws and hammers, stencils and cans of paint.  Many monks made it part of their daily routine to check the progress.  Patrick wrote 100s of thank-you notes.  When, at Christmas 2001, we celebrated with fanfare the “re-taking” of the restored space, no one was more pleased than he.

Threading the rhetorical needle

Nevertheless, to dwell on the bricks would miss the bigger picture.  Patrick’s love of language and words kept us on our toes.   Signature phrases peppered his homilies and conferences: “as well it should” … “be that as it may”  … “so to speak” … “as it were” … “veritable compendium”  … “to mention a few of the 1000s I could” …  “if I may” and his favorite “par excellence.”

He prided himself on an affinity for alliteration and treated us to heaping servings.  Herewith a sampling:   dollops of dull detail … different, diverse, and difficult (people) ... fish for folks … frenzied, frantic frazzle … gooey gobs of gossip—and those are just a few of the “Ds,” “Fs,” and “Gs.”  This word buff with an eye for the arcane, after the wedding-at-Cana gospel, also gave us “wine, wedding, and whoopee.” Of his stock spiels one stood out: the “I have never missed morning prayer” speech, which more than one monk heard.

In April 1998, welcoming our new bishop Paul A. Zipfel in the Abbey’s name, he showed his resourcefulness in another language: “Since your initials, P-A-Z, spell ‘peace’ in Spanish, we suspect your shepherding will be peaceful.”    At more than one homily closing our annual retreat he challenged us with: “We’re not perfect yet”!  When giving Brother Michael his name at profession, his “Be an Everyman Monk!” was a call to all of us.   Brother Michael was the last of eight who have become part of the Benedictine fraternity during his watch; seven of them are here—James, Nicholas, Anthony, Jacob, Benedict, Aelred, and Michael—and one, Pierre, now a monk at St. Peter’s Abbey in his native Canada.




The Care of a Pastor

Patrick showed the care of a father, looking forward to the annual Lenten visits to the monks’ rooms or at the residences of the monks on mission.  When I was in Bismarck at the University, he often stopped by—not because he had to but because he genuinely enjoyed a visit.  Most of the monks have stories of card games—cribbage, bridge, pinochle—in which Patrick, who hated losing with a passion, threw himself into the fray.  He thrived on repartee, even banter.  Once at the card table after being congratulated on a brilliant play he remarked, “I am the quintessence of humility!  (pause) Said in jest, of course!”  Of course.  

One example that kills two birds with one stone, so to speak:   On occasion his brothers and nephews came to the abbey for a couple days of hunting— Jerry, the boys, you know who you are.  Patrick enjoyed your visits immensely, but he had no use for the hunting.  Once Fr. Odo (with wink to those around him) said, “You should go hunting with them.”  Patrick shot back:  “…it’s the most inane thing I can think of—traipsing after some birds!”  

 He fed off of contact with others. His sociability led to participation on many boards, among them the University of Mary, St. John’s School of Theology • Seminary, the Presbyteral Council of the Diocese of Bismarck, and the ND Catholic Conference.  

With the passing of years, Abbot Patrick grew into the job.  Shortly after election as abbot, he wrote a letter ordering my return from Colombia to assume a stateside assignment.  I thanked him for the flattering rationale and proceeded to give a dozen reasons why our foundation in Bogotá should not have monks uprooted.  He replied graciously, thanking me for the reasons—“all very good ones indeed” —ending with the biggest word in the English language:  BUT.  So I came—and it was a great move.   In 1996, when I was away at a month-long conference, by telephone he asked if I would consent to be the prior at the monastery.  Surprised I was but then too I said I would gladly assume the task, adding, “Thanks for ‘asking’ me if I would.” His response: “I’ve learned a lot about being an abbot in seven years.”

Abbot Patrick could get so carried away with ideas that his arms would flail, especially during homilies.  He exuded enthusiasm, whose Greek origin— “en theos”—means “in God” or “God-driven.”  He called the monks to that same enthusiasm.  He could put things in perspective with a simple remark, did not hold a grudge—though that did not mean that things did not irritate him.  He was not shy about speaking up!

He also loved working with plants and zealously tended the courtyard.  The flowers and trees thrived under his care.  But he was no St. Francis, we all knew, when it came to some living things.  At the top of his hate list:  Boxelder bugs.  


New directions

When Abbot Patrick reached 65, he was required to tender his resignation according to the constitutions of the American-Cassinese Congregation of Benedictines, though he was eligible for re-election for ten years—or even more.  He, however, thought that after 15½ years at the helm—longer than all but one of the abbots at our abbey—it was time for another to exercise this service.  

That did not mean he was ready to ride off into the sunset.  “Retirement” was one of the few words he did not know the meaning of.  After ten weeks in a Wyoming parish and several months of sabbatical in California, he was installed in Virginia as administrator of Mary Mother of the Church Abbey.  In Virginia, he guided the monks as they agonized over the decision to move their school.   Once when I was on vacation in D.C., Patrick made the trip up from Richmond and together we “did” the city, a place that had changed dramatically since his cpe days in the late ’70s.

Five years later, back in North Dakota, he took up the assignment of pastor of St. Mary’s, New England, and St. Elizabeth’s, Lefor, with accustomed intensity.  For the next three years, by means of his weekly trek to the Abbey, we got to know the people there quite well.  Above all, we got to know how much he loved them.  He soon was speaking farming and ranching like a native—as well as dressing up as a hippie or the local hayseed for parish celebrations.  He savored the days in this new phase. The penchant for French words was still there, but he had the “common touch” and his parishioners knew they had a treasure. There was something cheerfully vernacular about him.


A life interrupted

And then that fateful night.  His last meal was with one of his many friends, a meal complemented with French fries and French dressing—could we expect anything else?—and followed by a quintessentially North Dakota chokecherry ice cream.  Then, in what should have been a routine drive home, came a scene of crashing metal and twisted steel.

On August 10, 2012, on the way to Morning Prayer the monks were greeted by Abbot Brian’s note:  "Fr. Patrick Moore died last night as the result of a two-car head-on collision south of Belfield."   I, for one, remember nothing from Morning Prayer.  Nor from the next several hours.  I walked around like a zombie.  Shocked.  I pondered the trip to Blue Cloud Abbey just the week before in which Abbot Brian, Fr. Warren, Abbot Patrick, and I had joined the community there in solidarity as they formalized their closing.  That quality time was our last together.

Patrick was not an average anything—neither an average man, nor an average monk, nor an average North Dakotan.  He certainly was not ready for retirement. Someone commented in these days:  “I can’t imagine Patrick being patient about growing old!”  Now he won’t have to be.  But that doesn’t mean we don’t miss him.  In fact, we miss him a whole lot.  His departure has left a hole in our chests.  

Jerry, Louis, Tom, Duane, Barbara, and Mark: thank you for sharing your brother.  He was a very dear brother to us also.  One thing we are sure of: Assumption Abbey has become a much better place because he was with us.  Many people have become better people because his life touched theirs.


As to you, Patrick, I feel robbed:

You owe us another 1000 pinochle games

And several 100 hours more of good stories.

Au revoir, mon ami.  Goodbye, my friend.   Until we meet again.









Eulogy for Abbot Patrick Moore, osb

Wake service on 14 August 2012

Assumption Abbey, Richardton, ND

Valerian Odermann, osb


But before any of these took place a little Donald Moore was born to Lawrence and Susan Moore on June 20, 1939, a special gift to them and to his five siblings: Jerry, Louis, Tom, Duane, and Barbara.  The siblings would be joined by another several years later—Mark—to complete the seven children of Lawrence and Susan.

Donald was born in Devils Lake, the place of origin of this community in 1893 under its founder Vincent Wehrle.  The young Fr. Vincent relocated the community to Richardton in 1899 at the request of Bishop Shanley.  At the centenary in 1999, the by-then-Abbot Patrick, with characteristic rhetorical flourish, spoke of the move as an:  “… exodus of our community from the place of the Devil to the Promised Land….”

The backstory

But I’m getting way ahead of myself.  Little Donald Moore, this second youngest of the seven, had a club foot at birth.  Corrective surgery was done on him as an infant; his mother later reminded him how he’d bang his little cast to get attention.  Some say as abbot of Assumption Abbey he perfected the skill by putting his foot down forcefully when he felt it necessary.

Junior college at the Abbey, monastic novitiate and then profession with the name “Patrick,” a Bachelor of Arts from St. John's University in 1962, seminary studies again at the Abbey before ordination.  All pretty routine.  Except for one thing.  At St. John’s, along with a philosophy major, he picked up a French minor.   

Why French?  “Moore” is not French; and he had German-Russian bloodlines on his mother’s side. Well, French was the only foreign language that fit his schedule.  Whatever the reason, thus began a love affair with everything French.  Patrick became a confirmed Francophile.  Studies in the language led him to universities around the world:  Georgetown, Montreal, Middlebury in Vermont, and the Sorbonne in Paris.  

During a year at the latter he seized the opportunity to travel to the Soviet Union, and sent back regular reports on the excursion, some still memorable 40 years later.  Let a summary of one episode suffice:  Into his baggage he had slipped contraband!  Yes, Patrick the revolutionary.  The item in question:  a Bible.  It was a much sought-after item and he left it behind, claiming, even then, that he had done his personal bit for the conversion of Russia by smuggling in that Bible.  

When his program was over, he did teach French, first at Assumption College and then at the University of Mary, where he also served as chaplain for three years, once Assumption College had closed in 1971.   While never again did he teach French, the French élan never was far from what he did.

In addition to teaching and chaplaincy work, he picked up a degree in Guidance and Counseling from UND.  He padded his résumé further as a pastor in Glen Ullin before clinical pastoral education (cpe) at St. Elizabeth’s psychiatric hospital, in Washington, D.C. (1978-1979).  This was undertaken in preparation for his appointment as chaplain at St. Alexius Medical Center, Bismarck.  Back in ND, he became a pastoral presence to the sick and a teacher for those refining their own clinical pastoral experience.   During it all, his booming bass also became a mainstay in the Bismarck Civic Chorus.   He relished every moment of it.  

All this in two decades.   He later said about his first years as a monk:  “I was very peripatetic in those days!”

An abbatial surprise

Then, in December 1988, the community chose him to be its abbot.  He mused that maybe it was his training at St. Elizabeth’s Mental Hospital that indicated that there was a fit!   At the time of the election as abbot, however, he was quite surprised: “The community had never elected me to anything before, not even the Senior Council.”   Yet the monks knew something about what they were getting; at the election chapter one clearly said, “He does not suffer fools gladly.”

In June 1997 after a visit to the Abbey, Cy Buser, a student here in the 1940s, wrote Fr. Denis:  “… never before did I experience the warmth and friendliness I experienced on this visit to the Abbey.  To me it was a real ‘homecoming.’  … I told Peg that, when … electing an Abbot the monks pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance and after meeting Abbot Patrick, I hope they know their prayers were answered.”

This Francophile brought a joie de vivre to the project of being abbot. He gave the place his stamp, fostering a certain je ne sais quoi ambience.  The sense of care refined by the decade at St. Alexius served him well.   He never lost his panache; his leadership style was “you don’t have to eat a whole egg to know it’s rotten.”  Or as the French would say, “Le style c’est l’homme”: the style and the man are one.

  Patrick tackled the job with verve. A revision of the Abbey’s Book of Customs was soon undertaken.  Within a few years, with a nod to new technologies, a section on cyberspace was added.  He was not, like some, fearful of computers in monasteries.  He saw them as the instruments they were — like cars or TV or telephones — whose use would be governed by the principles of monastic stewardship of time and resources.

Bricks and Mortar

He championed two brick-and-mortar projects that left their imprint on our community.  In 1999 we constructed a walkway from monastery to refectory; this gift to ourselves celebrated our centenary in Richardton.  And how we appreciated it.   The most telling comment came some time later from one of the elder monks:  “Why didn’t we do this years ago?”

The other project we enjoy at the moment:  this Abbey Church.  Efforts at renovation since the 1970s had floundered for one reason or other, checkmated by well-meaning but fearful faithful.  Patrick threw his full weight behind the project and the long-discussed renewal of the space moved from talking to strategizing. The impasse was broken.   Plans were drawn up, compromises made, a successful fund-raising campaign executed, contractors engaged, painters and carpenters and electricians employed.  

For 14 months—from November 2000 to December 2001—this space was the scene of tractors and scaffolding, whirring saws and hammers, stencils and cans of paint.  Many monks made it part of their daily routine to check the progress.  Patrick wrote 100s of thank-you notes.  When, at Christmas 2001, we celebrated with fanfare the “re-taking” of the restored space, no one was more pleased than he.

Threading the rhetorical needle

Nevertheless, to dwell on the bricks would miss the bigger picture.  Patrick’s love of language and words kept us on our toes.   Signature phrases peppered his homilies and conferences: “as well it should” … “be that as it may”  … “so to speak” … “as it were” … “veritable compendium”  … “to mention a few of the 1000s I could” …  “if I may” and his favorite “par excellence.”

He prided himself on an affinity for alliteration and treated us to heaping servings.  Herewith a sampling:   dollops of dull detail … different, diverse, and difficult (people) ... fish for folks … frenzied, frantic frazzle … gooey gobs of gossip—and those are just a few of the “Ds,” “Fs,” and “Gs.”  This word buff with an eye for the arcane, after the wedding-at-Cana gospel, also gave us “wine, wedding, and whoopee.” Of his stock spiels one stood out: the “I have never missed morning prayer” speech, which more than one monk heard.

In April 1998, welcoming our new bishop Paul A. Zipfel in the Abbey’s name, he showed his resourcefulness in another language: “Since your initials, P-A-Z, spell ‘peace’ in Spanish, we suspect your shepherding will be peaceful.”    At more than one homily closing our annual retreat he challenged us with: “We’re not perfect yet”!  When giving Brother Michael his name at profession, his “Be an Everyman Monk!” was a call to all of us.   Brother Michael was the last of eight who have become part of the Benedictine fraternity during his watch; seven of them are here—James, Nicholas, Anthony, Jacob, Benedict, Aelred, and Michael—and one, Pierre, now a monk at St. Peter’s Abbey in his native Canada.


The Care of a Pastor

Patrick showed the care of a father, looking forward to the annual Lenten visits to the monks’ rooms or at the residences of the monks on mission.  When I was in Bismarck at the University, he often stopped by—not because he had to but because he genuinely enjoyed a visit.  Most of the monks have stories of card games—cribbage, bridge, pinochle—in which Patrick, who hated losing with a passion, threw himself into the fray.  He thrived on repartee, even banter.  Once at the card table after being congratulated on a brilliant play he remarked, “I am the quintessence of humility!  (pause) Said in jest, of course!”  Of course.  

One example that kills two birds with one stone, so to speak:   On occasion his brothers and nephews came to the abbey for a couple days of hunting— Jerry, the boys, you know who you are.  Patrick enjoyed your visits immensely, but he had no use for the hunting.  Once Fr. Odo (with wink to those around him) said, “You should go hunting with them.”  Patrick shot back:  “…it’s the most inane thing I can think of—traipsing after some birds!”  

 He fed off of contact with others. His sociability led to participation on many boards, among them the University of Mary, St. John’s School of Theology • Seminary, the Presbyteral Council of the Diocese of Bismarck, and the ND Catholic Conference.  

With the passing of years, Abbot Patrick grew into the job.  Shortly after election as abbot, he wrote a letter ordering my return from Colombia to assume a stateside assignment.  I thanked him for the flattering rationale and proceeded to give a dozen reasons why our foundation in Bogotá should not have monks uprooted.  He replied graciously, thanking me for the reasons—“all very good ones indeed” —ending with the biggest word in the English language:  BUT.  So I came—and it was a great move.   In 1996, when I was away at a month-long conference, by telephone he asked if I would consent to be the prior at the monastery.  Surprised I was but then too I said I would gladly assume the task, adding, “Thanks for ‘asking’ me if I would.” His response: “I’ve learned a lot about being an abbot in seven years.”

Abbot Patrick could get so carried away with ideas that his arms would flail, especially during homilies.  He exuded enthusiasm, whose Greek origin— “en theos”—means “in God” or “God-driven.”  He called the monks to that same enthusiasm.  He could put things in perspective with a simple remark, did not hold a grudge—though that did not mean that things did not irritate him.  He was not shy about speaking up!

He also loved working with plants and zealously tended the courtyard.  The flowers and trees thrived under his care.  But he was no St. Francis, we all knew, when it came to some living things.  At the top of his hate list:  Boxelder bugs.  

New directions

When Abbot Patrick reached 65, he was required to tender his resignation according to the constitutions of the American-Cassinese Congregation of Benedictines, though he was eligible for re-election for ten years—or even more.  He, however, thought that after 15½ years at the helm—longer than all but one of the abbots at our abbey—it was time for another to exercise this service.  

That did not mean he was ready to ride off into the sunset.  “Retirement” was one of the few words he did not know the meaning of.  After ten weeks in a Wyoming parish and several months of sabbatical in California, he was installed in Virginia as administrator of Mary Mother of the Church Abbey.  In Virginia, he guided the monks as they agonized over the decision to move their school.   Once when I was on vacation in D.C., Patrick made the trip up from Richmond and together we “did” the city, a place that had changed dramatically since his cpe days in the late ’70s.

Five years later, back in North Dakota, he took up the assignment of pastor of St. Mary’s, New England, and St. Elizabeth’s, Lefor, with accustomed intensity.  For the next three years, by means of his weekly trek to the Abbey, we got to know the people there quite well.  Above all, we got to know how much he loved them.  He soon was speaking farming and ranching like a native—as well as dressing up as a hippie or the local hayseed for parish celebrations.  He savored the days in this new phase. The penchant for French words was still there, but he had the “common touch” and his parishioners knew they had a treasure. There was something cheerfully vernacular about him.


A life interrupted

And then that fateful night.  His last meal was with one of his many friends, a meal complemented with French fries and French dressing—could we expect anything else?—and followed by a quintessentially North Dakota chokecherry ice cream.  Then, in what should have been a routine drive home, came a scene of crashing metal and twisted steel.

On August 10, 2012, on the way to Morning Prayer the monks were greeted by Abbot Brian’s note:  "Fr. Patrick Moore died last night as the result of a two-car head-on collision south of Belfield."   I, for one, remember nothing from Morning Prayer.  Nor from the next several hours.  I walked around like a zombie.  Shocked.  I pondered the trip to Blue Cloud Abbey just the week before in which Abbot Brian, Fr. Warren, Abbot Patrick, and I had joined the community there in solidarity as they formalized their closing.  That quality time was our last together.

Patrick was not an average anything—neither an average man, nor an average monk, nor an average North Dakotan.  He certainly was not ready for retirement. Someone commented in these days:  “I can’t imagine Patrick being patient about growing old!”  Now he won’t have to be.  But that doesn’t mean we don’t miss him.  In fact, we miss him a whole lot.  His departure has left a hole in our chests.  

Jerry, Louis, Tom, Duane, Barbara, and Mark: thank you for sharing your brother.  He was a very dear brother to us also.  One thing we are sure of: Assumption Abbey has become a much better place because he was with us.  Many people have become better people because his life touched theirs.


As to you, Patrick, I feel robbed:

You owe us another 1000 pinochle games

And several 100 hours more of good stories.

Au revoir, mon ami.  Goodbye, my friend.   Until we meet again.



Eulogy for Abbot Patrick Moore, osb

Wake service on 14 August 2012

Assumption Abbey, Richardton, ND

Valerian Odermann, osb

Patrick Moore,   1939-2012

by Terrence Kardong

Fr. Patrick Moore was killed in a car wreck on Thursday night, August 9. He had spent the whole day participating in a meeting of the monks, so his sudden death was a shock to us all, to say the least. Tt was another reminder to “Keep death daily before your eyes” (RB 4.47).

Donald Moore was born at Devils Lake, ND, in a parish served by the monks at that time. He was one of six brothers (and one sister); he played tuba in the local band and was a swimmer and a Boy Scout. Indeed, he once saved the life of my brother who was drowning in the Abbey lake. Don came to Richardton for junior college in 1957 and entered the novitiate in 1959.

After completing his philosophical studies at St. John’s, Collegeville, in 1962, Fr. Patrick did his seminary work at Assumption Abbey. Ordination came in 1966, and then he earned a Master’s Degree in French from Middlebury College in Vermont in 1968. This study also involved a year at the Sorbonne in Paris, which he greatly relished. He managed to visit Moscow and Prague and various other exotic places during that time. He was a great traveler.

After his return to Richardton, Fr. Patrick was a dorm resident in Assumption College. When the college closed, he moved to Bismarck, where he became chaplain of the University of Mary. But since the college did not need another French teacher, Fr. Pat took a job as a chaplain at St. Alexius Hospital, Bismarck. He would remain in that role for about 10 years, and during that same period he did training at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington. He also took a Master’s Degree in counseling at the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, in 1975.

Fr. Patrick’s life changed abruptly in 1988, when he was elected the seventh Abbot of Assumption Abbey by his confreres. He would remain in the abbot’s office until the mandatory retirement age of 65 (2004). His previous work did not particularly prepare him for this demanding role, but perhaps the same could be said of every abbot. Probably the high point of his long abbacy was the renovation of the Abbey Church.  He was not in the forefront of this project, but he chose the men who were. And more crucially, he was the one who decided that compromise was needed to resolve the impasse that had afflicted that project for many years.

Given his background in languages and in music, it is not surprising that Abbot Patrick promoted the fine arts. When the community celebrated its centennial in 1993, he commissioned sculptor Raymond Rogers of Mott to do a bronze statue “St. Benedict of the Great Plains,” which now stands in the east garden of the monastery. In 2001, he again commissioned the now-deceased Rogers to do a larger bronze statue of St. Michael the Archangel for the vestibule of the Abbey Church. When it came to beauty, Patrick was all for it.

Another one of Abbot Patrick’s passions was the Liturgy, which he wanted celebrated with punctilious care. He once reprimanded me for not allowing a full minute of silence after the reading when I was president of the Divine Office. He told me I should begin counting that minute after I returned to my choir stall, not when I left the lectern. Never mind that it was only about ten feet from the latter to the former. One full minute meant one full minute.

After his long stint as abbot in Richardton, Patrick would have been justified in demanding a rest, but Abbot President Timothy Kelly persuaded him to go to Richmond, VA, to serve as administrator of Mary Mother of the Church Abbey. That community was working through some serious personnel and finance issues in those days, so Abbot Patrick was presented with a stiff challenge. We would like to think that his “training” at Richardton stood him well in Richmond. At any rate, when he came back to North Dakota he was still not looking for a soft life. He moved right into the role of a parish priest at New England and Lefor, and seemed to flourish in it. He was by no means worn out when his life ended so abruptly.

When one searches around for some key characteristics that marked Patrick Moore’s personality and life, the word loyalty comes to mind. If he was anything, he was a loyal member of the Catholic Church and of Assumption Abbey. He was asked by his superiors and confreres to do many hard things in his life, and he did not hesitate to make the necessary (and sometimes painful) adjustments.. He went from education to health care to monastic leader to parish priest without pleading discomfort. Whatever the Church needed, whatever the community needed, that’s what he was more than willing to do, or at least give it a good try.

Another aspect of Patrick’s personality was enthusiasm. He seemed to regard life as an adventure to be savored rather than a burden to be endured. One time when we were both young graduate students in Washington, D.C., a group of us went out to a Japanese restaurant. I remember being somewhat apprehensive (this was about 1965, before we became cosmopolitan), but Patrick was not. When the waitress brought a cart with raw fish to our table, Patrick immediately tore into it. He exclaimed to the waitress: “This is delicious!” but the waitress smiled and said: “Is better cooked!” as she prepared the stove.

According to Fr. Miles Taras of Belfield, who was with Fr. Patrick on the night before he died, his last hours were spent the way he would have wanted it. The two of them attended the musical at Medora, ND, and before that, they had a leisurely steak dinner at Buffalo Gap. For Patrick, this was living: a convivial meal with friends, perhaps a French wine, and most important, fellowship in Christ Jesus.   

Two funerals were held for Abbot Patrick. On August 14, Bishop Kagan presided at the Mass of Christian Burial held at New England. On August 15, Abbot Brian was the celebrant at a second Mass (of the Assumption) that took place at the Abbey. Large crowds attended both events.


Fr. Patrick started out his long monastic career as a French teacher in our school. Here he is shown intoning to his class one of those wonderful French verbs that he loved to pronounce. Notice that he also had an abundance of hair at that time.


In this (posed) picture, Abbot Patrick gathers in his office with a group of monks. Whether as the superior or as a simple monk, Patrick seemed to be happiest in the midst of the confreres. He also loved beauty, having his office redecorated before he would move in!