22 February, 2019 - Br. Patrick Hart passes into God's care




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Br. Patrick meeting Pope Saint Paul VI in 1968

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Br. Patrick Hart passed to God’s care early this morning, the 22nd of February, 2019. He was 93 years old and had been in vows for 64 years. 

Br. Patrick was born on the 14th of June, 1925, near Green Bay, Wisconsin and grew up on a farm there. He joined the Holy Cross brothers at Notre Dame in 1947. While at Notre Dame, he read Thomas Merton’s book, The Seven Storey Mountain, and when his class made a trip to Gethsemani in 1951, he stayed here, officially entering on the 16th of June, 1951. He entered the choir novitiate, but after a year asked to be transferred to the laybrothers. In 1956, while still a Junior professed, he was sent on the foundation to New Clairvaux, Vina, in California. After a little more than a year there, he returned to Gethsemani and was assigned as full-time secretary to Dom James Fox. He had an interest in Celtic spirituality and went to Rome in 1966 to pursue studies and to work at the Generalate there.


When Dom Flavian Burns was elected abbot in 1968, Br. Patrick was recalled to Gethsemani in order to be secretary to Thomas Merton, who had asked for him specifically. While continuing to be secretary to Dom Flavian, then Dom Timothy Kelly, Dom Damien Thompson, and finally Dom Elias Dietz, Br. Patrick worked for years as Thomas Merton’s literary executor, editing many posthumous works and contributing to such large projects as the publication of Merton’s journals and letters. He also served as the book review editor for the journal Cistercian Studies Quarterly for many years.

Surely one of the reasons why Br. Patrick served with such distinction under such a variety of abbots was his gentle and flexible nature. He never had a bad word to say about anyone. He was universally kind and generous with his attention and time. Our community is surely the poorer for his passing, but we now have another intercessor in heaven.



Br. Patrick as a lay brother circa 1955

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