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Father Adrian Harmening

Being raised in a small mining town in south-western Pennsylvania, Connellsville, where over 90% of the population was Roman Catholic of different ethnic nationalities, my faith was nurtured through a strong Catholic family background.

I was educated by the Benedictine Nuns of Pittsburgh, PA and influenced by the Benedictine Fathers of St. Vincent’s Archabbey of Latrobe, PA, who occasionally supplied priests in our local parish for Sunday Mass. St. Vincent’s was 30 miles from where I lived and I used to go up there every summer for lay retreats when I was in High School.

From this background one can see why I might have wanted to be a priest in educational and parish work using The Rule of St. Benedict and the principles of St. John Bosco, the 19th Century educator and priest.

After graduating from Immaculate Conception High School in 1943 in the midst of World War II, I entered the Navy where I served with the U.S. Navy Armed Guard — a military branch that was responsible for protecting U.S. and Allied surface vessels from attack by enemy planes, ships and submarines. About one year later, in April of 1945 until May of 1946, I was engaged in the Okinawa Campaign.

Upon discharge I started my seminary training at St. Vincent’s Benedictine College where I became acquainted with the Benedictine monastic way of life. Now I was free to pursue my dream, my true calling. All I ever wanted from the time I could walk was to be a priest. Upon finishing my seminary training there and at Belmont Abbey College in 1955, I was ordained to the Catholic priesthood.

My first assignment as a Benedictine monk was at Benedictine High School (Benedictine College Preparatory) in Richmond, Virginia in 1955. Over the course of 60 years, I have served in the capacity of Disciplinarian, Principal, Advancement Director and Chaplain.

During my many years as a monk, I have been called upon to take on other duties, included founding Pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church (Extra-Ordinary Rite) in Richmond where I served as Pastor for twenty years, Catholic Chaplain for the Boy Scouts in Virginia for twenty-eight years, and Chaplain for Knights of Columbus Councils 12525 and 395, and the Navy League Richmond Council.

Mary Mother of the Church Abbey fulfills my desires of seeking God and I have found joy in training young cadets in seeking their own call and life’s commitments. This is the age when they are forming, when we can have the most impact upon their lives. It has been a privilege to be a part of their journey as they mature into men of discipline, virtue, and service to the world. My mission has always been to make saints of each and every one of the boys by example and sharing the simple teachings of Benedictine spirituality.

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