Father Joachim Benedict Scweitzer

Father Joachim Benedict Scweitzer

AGE: 87 • Morristown

The community of St. Mary's Abbey mourns the death of Father Joachim Benedict Scweitzer on Tuesday, April 30, 2013 after a long illness. Gently, as he had lived, Father Joachim entered eternal life with the Lord at age eighty-seven, in the fifty-ninth year of monastic profession and the fifty-fifth of priesthood. Benedict Joseph Scweitzer, Jr. was born on 30 March 1926 in the town of Monroe, Orange County, New York, the first of five children of Ellen Frances Koonz and Benedict Joseph Schweitzer, Sr. He was baptized at Sacred Heart Church in Monroe, his mother's home parish. The family then resided in Hackettstown, New Jersey but later moved to Wharton, New Jersey. Benedict attended St. Mary's School in Wharton and Bayley High School in Morristown, New Jersey, from which he graduated in 1943. While at Bayley, Benedict began a life-defining friendship with the Benedictine monks at the nearby St. Mary's Monastery, Delbarton. Following graduation from high school, Benedict entered St. Peter's College in Jersey City, but, after one year, with the nation embroiled in the Second World War, he enlisted in the United States Navy. He served for more than two years as a radio operator at several naval bases and aboard the USS Hanover, an attack transport ship. Following his honorable discharged in June of 1946 he resumed studies at St. Peter's, and earned the Bachelor of Science degree in 1949. In 1950, at the onset of the Korean War, Benedict was called once again to serve. He later recalled that while on board a destroyer, lying in a bunk directly beneath an incessantly firing five inch cannon, he began to hear a louder call to a life of Benedictine peace. Following his discharge from the Navy, Benedict followed that call to St. Mary's Monastery in Morristown. He entered the monastic novitiate at St. Benedict's Abbey in Atchison, Kansas, taking the name of Joachim in religious life, and made his first vows there on 11 July 1954. Solemn perpetual vows followed at St. Mary's Abbey in Morristown on 13 July 1957. The abbey's junior monks were all assigned responsibilities in and about the monastery. Father Joachim was designated monastery beekeeper. On one occasion Joachim's encounter with resentful bees landed him in the hospital, but undaunted he became a highly knowledgeable and enthusiastic apiarist. He was an active member of the New Jersey and Morris County Beekeepers Associations whose meetings he enjoyed hosting at the abbey. Other associations to which Father Joachim was faithful were the St. Peter's College Alumni Association, national and state associations of science teachers, and the Knights of Columbus.

Father Joachim completed theological studies at St. Mary's School of Theology and was ordained to the priesthood on 31 May 1958 at St. John's Cathedral in Paterson, New Jersey. He celebrated his first solemn Mass at St. Mary's Church in Wharton the following day. Parish and educational work followed at St. Joseph's Church in Maplewood, New Jersey, Sacred Heart Churches in Wilmington, Delaware and Elizabeth, New Jersey, at St. Benedict's Preparatory School in Newark and at Delbarton School in Morristown. In 1964 Father Joachim earned the Master's degree in Science Education at New York University. At the abbey in Morristown, Father Joachim also served as monastery infirmarian and as chaplain to the Sisters of Christian Charity in Mendham. He was director of the Oblates of St. Mary's Abbey for almost thirty years. At the same time, Father Joachim was exemplary in his fidelity to monastic prayer. As he aged, Father Joachim shed some of these responsibilities, but not his kind and generous spirit. He became the volunteer chauffer to the Morris County YMCA swimming pool for a group of handicapped people. In recent years, the advancing effects of Alzheimer's disease brought Father Joachim to the Abbey Health Care Center and to the devoted care of its nurses. His kindness, gentle wit, patience and peace in difficult circumstances, were an inspiration to all who visited or cared for him during these long years.

Father Joachim was predeceased by his parents and brother, Ellis, and is survived by brothers, Eugene of Far Hills, New Jersey, Hugh, of Hartford Connecticut; by his sister, Annette Stanley, of Saranac Lake, New York; by the brothers of his monastic community, and by the many friends whose lives he enriched.

The body of Father Joachim will be received at the Abbey Church at 4:30 PM on Wednesday, May 1, 2013; the Office of the Dead will be sung at 7:15 PM on Thursday, May 2, 2013 and the Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Friday, May 3, 2013 at 3:30 PM followed by interment in the Abbey Cemetery. Viewing is Wednesday, May 1, 2013 from 7-9 PM; Thursday, May 2, 2013, 2-4; 7-9PM. Arrangements are entrusted to S.J. Priola Parsippany Funeral Service, Lake Hiawatha. For further information please see www.parsippanyfuneral.com In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the St Mary's Abbey Infirmary Fund.


Funeral Home

S.J. Priola Parsippany Funeral Service
60 North Beverwyck Rd. Lake Hiawatha, NJ 07034
(973) 335-4700

Published in Daily Record on May 1, 2013