Father Arthur Schmit
Born: Port Washington, Wisconsin, September 23, 1930
Professed: July 11, 1951
Ordained: June 2, 1957
Died: March 8, 2014
We request prayers for our deceased confrere, Father Arthur Schmit, who died Saturday morning, March 8, 2014 in St. Joseph Nursing Home, Lacon, IL, where he had been a patient since January 10, when his congestive heart failure and complications therefrom began to require hospice care.
Father Arthur was born in Port Washington, WI on September 23, 1930, but during his early childhood the family moved to Peoria, IL, where he grew up together with a younger brother and two sisters. His mother, Gertrude Dunst Schmit, had come from Danzig on the Baltic Sea, now Gdansk in Poland, but at that time a German city, whereas his father, Gustave Schmit, had immigrated to the United States from Luxemburg.
His early education was at the hands of the Benedictine sisters, then from Nauvoo, who staffed the grade school of St. Boniface Parish in Peoria (now St. Ann’s), and he attended high school at Spalding Institute, then staffed by monks from St. Bede, from which he graduated in 1948. He then came to the junior college seminary at St. Bede, earned the associate degree two years later, and was then accepted for admission to St. Bede Abbey, together with eight other candidates, the largest class our community has ever had and the first to make their novitiate in their home abbey..
During the following year he made his novitiate at St. Bede and at its conclusion made simple profession of vows on July 11, 1951. He then spent two years at St. John’s University, Collegeville, MN in order to complete his college studies, and received a BA degree in philosophy in 1953.
For the next four years he studied theology in preparation for the priesthood at the St. Bede School of Theology, and during this time also gained some teaching experience in our academy. He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop William Cousins in the Peoria cathedral on June 2, 1957.
After some further teaching in our academy and serving as prefect of boarding students in our minor seminary, Father Arthur was assigned to graduate studies, first in modern languages at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and then in educational administration at the Catholic University of America, obtaining a master’s degree in each of these areas. He then returned to the abbey and served as chief executive officer (then still called rector) of St. Bede Junior College and Academy from 1963 to 1970.
Though he no longer worked in school administration after this time, he continued to teach modern languages for more than fifty years. During this time he was the sole teacher of French to successive generations of students, and he also taught German when needed in this capacity. To maintain his language skills he did further study at the Universities of Dijon, Salzburg, and Strasbourg during the summers of 1971, 1972, and 1980, respectively. Although confined to a wheel chair for the last decade of his life because of some physical injuries, he finally retired from teaching only in 2011.
He also served the academy as moderator of the student government from its inception in the 1960’s until 2007, in which capacity he organized many student trips to participate in conventions, to help the poor in Appalachia, and to enjoy skiing in Wisconsin, and numerous educational excursions to Europe for both students and adults. He also had a long history as perennial moderator of the men’s club of the academy, a position that he continued to fill up until his admission to the nursing home in January.
Father Arthur had also become knowledgeable about beekeeping and served as the decades-long director of our apiary, annually providing honey for the monastic community and some for sale, although he eventually needed help with the physical labor. For many years, until his mobility was impaired, he also provided priestly service at the abbey and weekend assistance in parishes. He had served in the1970’s on the Peoria diocesan board of conciliation and arbitration.
In addition to the monastic community of St. Bede, Father Arthur is survived by his sister, Mrs. Rosalie Cavanaugh of Monmouth, IL and her husband James. His brother Jerome and his sister Elizabeth Perrine preceded him in death.
We are grateful for the suffrages that you will offer for our deceased confrere, and we promise faithful remembrance of your deceased.
Abbot Philip Davey, O.S.B. and community