Father William was born, raised and educated in the Boston area in Massachusetts. His mother was born and raised in County Kerry and his father was a Quaker from Pennsylvania.
Ordained in 1958, after 8 years in St. John's Seminary, he was incardinated into the Diocese of Yakima, Washington. where he worked on an Indian Reservation and with Mexican traveling workers for 6 years. In 1963 he entered the Trappists at St. Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts, where he served in the guest house for 15 years, taught Scripture, liturgy and patristics; served as subprior, prior and dean of the junior professed monks.
In 1979 he was transferred to a daughter house, St. Benedicts Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado, where he served as Prior, vocation director, novice master, and teacher of theology and scripture. He spent 3 years in Israel where he studied scripture and taught at the Center for Biblical Studies in Jerusalem and at the Trappist Monastery of Latroun. He also did graduate studies at Seattle University, Harvard Divinity School, and Boston University.
In 1974 he originated the workshop on Contemplative Meditation (later known as Centering Prayer) which he now teaches worldwide along with workshops on Forgiveness, the Enneagram, Sacred Scriptures, and Prayer. He leaves the monastery only 4 times each year to do this lest he lose his own monastic orientation while sharing it with others.
The impact of interfaith at Saint Martin's
In 1974, Father William Meninger found a dusty little book in the abbey library, The Cloud of Unknowing. As he read it he was delighted to discover that this anonymous 14th century book presented contemplative meditation as a teachable, spiritual process enabling the ordinary person to enter and receive a direct experience of union with God. This form of meditation, recently known as 'Centering Prayer' (from a text of Thomas Merton), was the subject of discussion at Saint Martin’s 2014 Benedictine Lecture Series.