Rev. Father Alphonsus (Robert) La Chapelle

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    - Bob & Dawn Scholeck
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December 25, 2008

The Rev. Father Alphonsus (Robert) La Chapelle, O. Cist., 85, died on Christmas Day at Seton Manor, Orwigsburg. He was a Cistercian Monk at St. Mary's Priory, New Ringgold.

Born in Omaha, Neb., in 1923, he was a son of Laurence and Helen Moore La Chapelle. He was the eldest of three brothers and had three sisters.

After graduation from the Jesuit Creighton Preparatory School, he worked for Union Pacific Railway Co. Early in World War II, he joined the Merchant Marine Service and was trained as purser and pharmacist. He stayed on for several post-war years.

Father entered the Cistercian Order at St. Joseph's Abbey, Spencer, Mass., in 1958. He made his solemn vows there in 1964. He moved to Spring Bank Abbey, Oconomowoc, Wis., in 1966, and was later one of the founding fathers of St. Mary's Priory, New Ringgold, in 1967. He was ordained to the priesthood by the late Most Rev. Joseph McShea, bishop of Allentown.

At Seton Hall University, he received his master's in theology. After Reformed and Renaissance studies at Princeton, he gained his Th.M. degree from the same institution. At the Dominican Theologate, River Forest, Ill., he qualified for the Certificate of Christian Spirituality. He trained in clinical pastoral education at Allentown State Hospital and did advanced pastoral studies and work at the Hamburg Center.

Father Alphonsus was a USCC pastoral associate and a certified member of the National Association of Catholic Chaplains.

After a major stroke in 2000, Father Alphonsus resided at Holy Family Manor, Bethlehem. He returned to his monastery in 2002. Since his second serious stroke, in late 2002, he resided at Seton Manor.

Surviving are his sister, Joan Enos, Santa Clara, Calif.; and a brother and sister-in-law, Laurence and Jackie La Chapelle, Dundee, Ore.

Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, Jan. 5, at St. Ambrose Roman Catholic Church, Schuylkill Haven. Bishop Thomas Welsh, D.D., will be the principle celebrant, with the Very Rev. Luke Anderson, O. Cist, and the Rev. Hugh Montague, O. Cist., as concelebrants. The Very Rev. Anderson will be the homilist. Relatives and friends are invited to call from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 4, at Hamilton Funeral Home Inc., Orwigsburg, and from 10 until 11 a.m. Monday, Jan. 5, at St. Ambrose Roman Catholic Church Chapel prior to the services. Interment will be in St. Patrick Calvary Cemetery, Pottsville. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Seton Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 1000 Seton Drive, Orwigsburg, PA 17961.

Published in Republican & Herald on Dec. 29, 2008