Benedictine monk and educator Father Nicholas Rausch dies
Wednesday, August 6, 2003
Lacey, Wash. - Father Nicholas Rausch, Order of Saint
Benedict, for many years an educator at Saint Martin’s High School and
College, died Aug. 5, 2003, of a heart attack. He was 74.
vigil service will be at 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 10, at Saint Martin’s Abbey
Church, 5300 Pacific Ave., Lacey. The Mass of Christian Burial will be
celebrated for him at 10 a.m. Monday, Aug. 11, also at the church.
Burial will follow at Saint Martin’s Abbey Cemetery.
Members of the Saint Martin’s College community join
Saint Martin’s Abbey, where Father Nicholas was subprior, in honoring
his life and many accomplishments.
“One of his favorite writers, the Blessed Columba
Marmion, said ‘I became a monk because God had revealed to me the beauty
and greatness of obedience’,” noted Abbot Neal Roth, O.S.B. “Father
Nicholas was a faithful, obedient monk and I will miss him.”
Father Nicholas was born Bernard Rausch on Nov. 29,
1928, on a farm near Rupert, Idaho. He was the oldest of six children
and the only son of Marie Theresa Henscheid and Charles Simon Rausch. A
strong family tradition of service to the Catholic Church led Father
Nicholas toward a desire early in life to become a priest. Three of his
sisters joined the Benedictine convent at Oregon’s Mount Angel, and
several cousins joined religious orders. After earning his diploma from
Rupert High School in 1947, he was convinced to attend Saint Martin’s
College by his cousin, now-retired Abbot Conrad Rausch, O.S.B. After two
years of college, he was invested as a novice monk on July 11, 1949 and
professed his first vows as a Benedictine monk on July 11, 1950. He made
his lifetime solemn vows at Saint Martin’s Abbey on July 11, 1953.
Father Nicholas finished his degree in philosophy with
minors in English and Latin in 1952. He often joked they were the only
subjects he never taught at the high school. Following four years of
theological study at Oregon’s Mount Angel Seminary, he was ordained to
the priesthood on May 19, 1956, at St. James Cathedral, Seattle. In
1957, he earned a bachelor of education degree from Seattle University.
Determined to be a good teacher and to teach whatever
was needed, he began teaching at Saint Martin’s High School in 1957. His
broad talents and willingness led to a diverse career as an educator. He
taught agriculture, beginning and advanced algebra, geometry, religion,
typing, general science, mechanical drawing, calligraphy and driver’s
education. He excelled as a debate teacher, a talent he attributed to
his initial inexperience with the subject. He set up a mentoring system
in which a seasoned group of state-ranked debate students helped their
inexperienced peers learn forensics skills. In 18 years of teaching, his
teams went to state all but one year. He considered debate his favorite
subject, and often judged debate meets in the state.
At night, he served as a dormitory prefect at the high
school, and at times, as a counselor. He also drove a school bus, taking
students to area athletic competitions.
In 1974, the same year the high school was closed, he
suffered a heart attack. When he recovered, he taught briefly at the
College, and later served as a student loan officer, assistant in the
bursar’s office and as college treasurer. His pastoral duties included
serving at several churches in Western Washington on weekends and holy
days and as parochial vicar at Sacred Heart Parish. From 1975 to 1984,
he also was chaplain of the Washington State Corrections Center in
Besides serving as subprior, his monastic duties have
included service as director of brothers and Socius of novices.
He was a talented calligrapher, often creating memorable Christmas cards
for family and friends. He also enjoyed watercolor painting, golf,
crossword puzzles and music. Although he considered himself an amateur,
his musical talents spanned from the harmonicas and steel guitars he’d
learned to play as a boy to ukulele, mandolin, bloc flute and cello. For
many years, he was a member of the Knights of Columbus and served as
chaplain to the organization’s Lacey council.
In 1993, he was honored by students and alumni of
Saint Martin’s College and High School at Homecoming.
He once said the one accomplishment that had brought
him greatest fulfillment was becoming a Benedictine monk and priest.
“I would never change it,” he said. “It’s been busy -
it’s not the kind of life to make big headlines, and what I do are not
big jobs - but somebody has to do them.”
Father Nicholas is survived by his sisters Mrs.
Gertrude Stuart and her husband Ernest, of Rupert, Idaho; Dorothy,
Christine and Regina Rausch, all members of the Benedictine Order; his
cousin and fellow monk, Abbot Conrad Rausch, O.S.B., Saint Martin’s
Abbey; and numerous nieces and nephews and cousins.
Memorial gifts can be sent to Saint Martin’s Father
Nicholas Rausch Scholarship Fund or to Saint Martin’s Abbey, 5300
Pacific Ave. S.E., Lacey, Wash.
The Abbey asks members of the American Cassinese
Congregation of monks to join them in offering the appointed suffrages
and requests the prayers of others for Father Nicholas’ eternal joy.
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