Funeral Mass held at St. Bede for Fr. Stephen Souse, OSB

PERU ? A funeral Mass was celebrated Tuesday, July 27, at St. Bede Abbey Church for Father Stephen Souse, OSB, 93, the registrar at St. Bede Academy since 1950 and the eldest member of the monastic community.

Father Stephen, a former teacher who throughout most of his 67 years as a Benedictine priest assisted at local parishes on weekends, died at the monastery on Thursday, July 22, 2010.

Abbot Claude Peifer, OSB, was principal celebrant at the funeral liturgy.

Born in Peoria on Nov. 7, 1916, to Tony and Mary (Michael) John, Father Stephen was raised in the Maronite rite. He entered St. Bede Abbey after two years of college. After a year of novitiate training in the monastic life at St. Vincent Archabbey, Latrboe, Pa., he made his first profession of vows on July 2, 1937. During that year he received canonical permission to transfer from the Maronite rite to the Latin Rite.

He received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from St. Bede College in 1939, and after theology studies was ordained to the priesthood on June 13, 1943. Father Stephen then pursued graduate studies in Scripture at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where he earned a licentiate in sacred theology in 1945.

Father Stephen taught Scripture at St. Bede Abbey School of Theology from 1945 to 1946 and again from 1951 to 1957. He was the school secretary and typing teacher at Spalding Institute in Peoria from 1947 to 1950.

Father Stephen was the Benedictine monastic community’s barber for seven decades, and was St. Bede’s custodian of Mass stipends since 1968. He was also active in St. Bede Abbey Press and as an indoor horticulturist.

He was preceded in death by his parents; a brother, Fayze Souse; and two sisters, Sister Angelina Souse, SHF, and Sister Olivia Souse, SHF, all of Lebanon, and by another sister, Martha (Souse) Hendricks of Fort Madiston, Iowa.

In addition to his Benedictine confreres, he is surived by one brother, Joseph Tony, and one sister, Elizabeth (Souse) Sears, both of Peoria, as well as by three nephews and four nieces.

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