Marianist Brother Francis A. “Frank” Deibel has 100 buddies on his e-mail list, and every day he sends his Catholic contacts readings on the lives of the saints and a meditation called “Moments With Mary.”
At 101 years old, he’s not afraid of technology.
“I like e-mailing,” he said. “It’s a real blessing.”
He’s been using the Internet since 1990 as a way to connect with a global world and to collect photos, especially of the Blessed Mother. He also likes attending daily Mass and taking his “trusty walker” to visit some of the other priests and brothers at Mercy Siena Gardens, a retirement complex in Dayton, Ohio.
Brother Frank, a member of the Society of Mary, took his vows on Aug. 15, 1926, the feast of the Assumption.
“I wanted my soul to be saved,” he said about his vocation. “So I thought this would be a good way to do that. I want to see God forever.”
Brother Frank originally planned to be a priest with the Marianists, an international religious order that, among other work, sponsors the University of Dayton.
“I took all the priestly classes in college, but I did not become a priest,” he told OSV in an e-mail interview. “But as a brother, I taught high school [Latin and English] from 1929 to 1952 in Cleveland and in Cincinnati.”
He went to work at the University of Dayton library in 1953 and stayed for 48 years. Always eager to learn, he took additional classes at UD, where he first started to use a computer — the kind that was a jumble of wires and took up three rooms.
For men who are considering vocations, Brother Frank advised, “Think about and pray about how important it is to spread God’s kingdom.”
And for everyone: “Keep on holding hands with Jesus, Mary and Joseph. I say that a lot.”
Monk Served as Model For Many Generations
Benedictine Father Flavian Yelinko was so ill in 1978 that he left St. John Church in Summerhill, Pa., and returned to St. Vincent Archabbey near Latrobe.
“They thought he was heading toward death,” said Benedictine Father Patrick Cronauer, then an altar server for Father Yelinko.
The illness ended 43 years of pastoral assignments, but, after recovering, Father Flavian became the monastery archivist and served in various chaplaincies. He later lived in the ambulatory infirmary and remained active until recently when he fell and broke his pelvis.
He died two weeks later, on Feb. 18, 2010, the feast of St. Flavian.
At 103, he was the oldest monk in St. Vincent history, and had attended the funerals of every archabbot except Boniface Wimmer, who founded the monastery and college in 1847.
“He indirectly had an influence on my decision to become a priest,” said Father Cronauer, 54, the homilist at the funeral.
As formation director for monks in simple profession of vows, Father Cronauer saw the impact he had on young men.
“They saw in him a figure representing the monastic tradition, its endurance and its perseverance, and therefore a model to seek the following,” he said. “He was everything a good monk is. He was dedicated to the Lord, and he lived through all the changes in the Church and never lost his balance. Through his faith and commitment, he never lost sight of the fact that he was always at the service of the Lord and his people.”
Father Yelinko came to St. Vincent in 1920, at age 14, was ordained in 1930 and built the first college library from shelves and books that were dumped on a floor. Until the fall, he used a walker to attend Mass and prayers, and despite severe deafness, welcomed company.
“In his waning years, many young monks went to sit with him, and assisted him in any way they could,” Father Cronauer said. “In those last days, several were eager to be with him in our community tradition of death watch and pray with him, and pray for him, as he was preparing to meet the Lord.”