Dies Natalis of Father Lukas Etlin, O.S.B.

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A Friend in Heaven

Today, December 16th, is the dies natalis (heavenly birthday) of the Servant of God, Father Lukas Etlin, O.S.B., a monk of Conception Abbey. I made a novena to Father Lukas last month beginning on November 16th. On the evening of December 8th, feast of the Immaculate Conception, I was given a picture of Father Lukas. I slipped it into the pocket of my habit before driving home. Less than fifteen minutes later I was the astonished and grateful surviver of a terrible automobile crash. No bumps, bruises, scratches, aches, or pains.

From Switzerland to Missouri

Father Lukas was born Alfred Etlin, on February 25, 1864 in Sarnen, the capital of Canton Obwalden in the foothills of the Swiss Alps. In 1886 young Alfred left the natural beauty of his homeland for the new monastery founded by Abbot Frowin Conrad in Conception, Missouri. Clothed in the Benedictine habit, Alfred became Frater Lukas. He made monastic profession on November 13, 1887 and was ordained a priest on the feast of the Assumption, August 15, 1891. He offered his First Mass at the Benedictine Convent of Perpetual Adoration in Clyde, Missouri on the Feast of Saint Bernard, August 20, 1891.

Artist

After his ordination, Father Lukas, a gifted artist, was assigned to continue his collaboration in the decoration of the abbey church. Some of the magnificent frescoes that still adorn the basilica of Conception Abbey are the work of Father Lukas.

Chaplain

On March 17, 1892, Father Lukas named chaplain to the Benedictine Sisters at Clyde, Missouri. For some time he walked two miles each way to offer daily Mass at the convent. After being caught in dangerous snow storm, Abbot Frowin and the Mother Prioress of Clyde decided that Father Lukas should reside at the convent.

Apostle of the Eucharist

It was there that Father Lukas grew in his already burning love for the Heart of Jesus, for the Most Holy Eucharist, and for the Mother of God, and began to share the fruits of his contemplation He was instrumental in persuading the Sisters at Clyde to embrace a more monastic way of life with primacy given to the worthy celebration of the Divine Office and to perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. In May 1905 he launched his printing apostolate with the publication of Tabernacle and Purgatory. Its aim was clear: "that the knowledge of the Most Holy Eucharist may be increased and the love toward It enkindled more and more in the hearts of the faithful." Father Lukas' personal life was marked by long periods of Eucharistic adoration, both by day and by night.

Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary

In his office, Father Lukas worked in the presence of an almost lifesize painting of Our Lady holding the Child Jesus, Who is pointing to His Heart. Often Father Lukas would pray aloud, addressing the Mother of God. He would kneel before her image to ask for guidance, and kiss it with tender devotion.

One-Man Relief Program

With the onset of World War I, Father Lukas became the Apostle of Charity. Alarmed by the famine that afflicted Europe after the armistice in 1918, he launched a one-man relief program, and distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars, solicited from among his American readers of Tabernacle and Purgatory, to monasteries, convents, seminaries, orphanages, and schools. He called his program, Caritas.. By his death in December 1927, Father Lukas had collected and disbursed over two million dollars to institutions in thirty-two countries, including Russia and China.

Priest-Adorer

In his spiritual conferences to the Benedictine Sisters at Clyde, Father Lukas insisted on the Most Holy Eucharist as the heart of the Christian and monastic life. This was the fruit of his own experience. He invited them to enter into the mystery of the Holy Sacrifice by offering themselves to the Father, per ipsum, et cum ipso, et in ipso -- through Christ, with Him, and in Him. The perpetual adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament was, for Father Lukas, intrinsically linked to the Holy Sacrifice. He was, before all else, a faithful priest-adorer of Christ present in the Sacrament of His Love.

Zeal for the Liturgy

Gifted with a refined artistic sensibility, Father Lukas made himself the zealous promoter of Gregorian Chant in the liturgy. He saw to it that the Sisters at Clyde were well prepared to sing the Mass and Divine Office with dignity and beauty.

Death on a Highway

On December 16, 1927, Father Lukas offered Mass at the convent in Clyde, and at 8:30 a.m. taught a religion class to the girls of St. Joseph's Academy. Among other things, he said to them:

We must at all times be ready to die. We should not wish to live even a single day longer than God wills. Should death overtake us in an automobile, also then we should accept it with resignation to the will of God.

Eight hours later, Father Lukas lay dead at the side of the highway in Stanberry, Missouri, the victim of an automobile accident. At the moment of the crash, he was heard to cry out, "O Jesus, Jesus!" When help came, Father Lukas was already dead, with a piece of his rosary held fast in his hand.

Father Lukas, An Intercessor

Since his death, Father Lukas has obtained numerous graces and favours for those who have recourse to his intercession. For further information write to:

Father Denis Dougherty, O.S.B.
Saint Joseph Church
1115 N. Campbell Avenue
Springfield, MO 65802

or to:

The Reverend Father Vice-Postulator
Cause of Father Lukas Etlin, O.S.B.
Conception Abbey,
P.O. Box 501
37174 State Highway VV
Conception, MO 64433

10 Comments

Is there an official cause on the books for Dom Lukas? There seems not to be.

Paul:

How so? 'There seems not to be' - if there is a 'Vice-Postulator'?

Rev. Louis Meyer O.S.B. of
Conception Abbey
Conception, MO 64433
was vice postulator as of August 18 1972
can any one tell me something more recent?

Since his death, Father Lukas has obtained numerous graces and favours for those who have recourse to his intercession. For further information write to:

Father Denis Dougherty, O.S.B.
Saint Joseph Church
1115 N. Campbell Avenue
Springfield, MO 65802

or to:

The Reverend Father Vice-Postulator
Cause of Father Lukas Etlin, O.S.B.
Conception Abbey,
P.O. Box 501
37174 State Highway VV
Conception, MO 64433

I had a similar accident some years ago, not as bad as Fr. Kirby's though. I felt asleep while driving for a few seconds (driving at 70 mph) and my suv spinned out of control and ended in a ditch. I felt blessed that I was not hit by any car and that strangely didn't go across the the 4 lane HWY driving from Saint Louis,MO. I know that I came out unhurt by God's grace.

When I read Fr. Kirby's story I was very surprised. As I indeed spent some time during two retreats at the Conception Abbey, where Father Etlin was buried. I remembered spending some time praying by his grave!!! I remembered also being touched by reading His only Eucharistic Adoration book left at the convent. I brought it back home as the nun gladly have me their last and only copy!!! I truly felt that Fr. Etlin was a saint and still feel so. I asked the benedictine nuns about why he was not canonized yet, they told me because it was because of lack of money, after they stop running the printing shop. The convent is a very beautiful one. The mosaic ceiling inside of the chapel, depicting the stages of the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was designed by Fr. Etlin himself. It is amazing how it was so well done, I thought that it was painted, but it was a mosaic. I thought that only a saint could have such designed such a beautiful chapel, with the Spirit of God. I truly hope that the church will canonized Fr. Etlin. I wish more people knew about him. You can buy his book on Eucharistic Adoration online. God bless you all.

Mary

I have to make a correction to my previous comment. I in fact went on the two retreats at the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, Clyde MO. The convent is close to Conception Abbey. Father Etlin is buried on the convent grounds in Clyde, MO. I did also visit the Conception Abbey. The chapel I was talking about is in Clyde, MO at the convent.

I am so glad to find this info. about the author of Tabernacle and Purgatory. I have only 2 1957 copies of the publication from my late mother. I would love to find more issues of this original magazine. My Catholic Prayer group absolutely love it!
God bless you, Father Mark!

The last I read his cause was inactive - that was in a book called Modern Saints copyrighted 1983 -- do you have any more recent news about the current status of Fr. Lukas' cause?

Dear Jennifer,

The Cause of Father Lukas is still active. A monk of Conception is in charge of promoting it. You may want to write to:

Conception Abbey
37174 State Highway Vv
Conception, MO 64433

Thanks Father Mark -- My son attends Conception - I love the artwork in the Basilica - especially the Immaculate Conception in the apse of the church that Father Lukas painted.

What impresses me most about Father Lukas is the impact he had on the priesthood - the seminarian scholarship program he started helped 2800 men become priests ...including 3 cardinals, 5 archbishops, 11 bishops, 9 auxiliary bishops and 14 abbots.

Attendance at Conception is thriving - 116 seminarians from twenty dioceses and three religious communities - I think Fr Lukas would be pleased.

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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