Father Bede Ernsdorff, O.S.B.

“I had great mentors at Saint Martin’s who challenged, pushed and encouraged me, like Fr. Bede, who was the reason for my success as a chemist,” George A. Parker ’71, Ph.D.

Father Bede Ernsdorff, O.S.B. (1909 – 1982)

Saints live with heart

Fr. Bede Ernsdorff, O.S.B. served as the head of the Saint Martin’s chemistry department from 1938 to 1975 and as the chair of the chemistry department until 1982. Fr. John C. Scott, O.S.B., former president of Saint Martin’s College and professor of history, wrote in “This Place Called Saint Martin’s, 1895-1995” that Fr. Bede was a “sterling teacher and trusted counselor, [who] was active in every aspect of the Abbey’s spiritual and liturgical work.”

Fr. Bede completed his novitiate in Lacey around 1932 and was sent to Saint Benedict’s College (now Benedictine College) in Atchison, Kansas, where he earned bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and in theology and philosophy. Fr. Bede also took summer graduate courses in chemistry at the University of Michigan and completed his master’s degree in chemistry in 1936. He returned to the Abbey, was ordained in 1938, and joined the College’s faculty. During World War II, when the College’s enrollment decreased, Fr. Bede matriculated at Stanford University as a DuPont Fellow and received his doctorate in chemistry in 1946. Besides his work as a teacher, he also served as dean of the College and took on various leadership roles within the Abbey.

John Ishii, Ph.D., president of Saint Martin’s from 1980 – 1984, spoke about Fr. Bede in February 1982. “Father Bede Ernsdorff, O.S.B., epitomized in his life what we are trying to establish—what Saint Martin’s, both as an educational institution and a religious community, is all about. In one way or another, Father Bede touched all our lives. Many of our alumni are, today, prominent in the fields of medicine and science because of his dedication as monk and teacher.”

George A. Parker ’71, Ph.D., a member of the Saint Martin’s Board of Trustees and a recipient of a Distinguished Alumni Award, remembers Fr. Bede fondly. “I had great mentors at Saint Martin’s who challenged, pushed and encouraged me, like Fr. Bede, who was the reason for my success as a chemist.”

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