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Rev Fr Abbot Michael Lensing

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Rev Fr Abbot Michael Lensing

Abbot Michael Lensing
IV Abbot of Subiaco Abbey

On Friday Morning December 30, 1988, at approximately 8:30 a.m., our father in Christ, retired Abbot Michael Lensing, fourth abbot of Subiaco Abbey, died peacefully in the Lord. For the past eighteen years since he had been diagnosed as suffering from Parkinson Disease, Father Michael continued valiantly his fight against gradually deteriorating physical health. Annointed shortly before his death by Abbot Raphael DeSalvo, and supported by the prayers of his fellow monks, Father Michael, after 72 years, finally met his Lord face to face.

In baptism William, he was born January 11, 1916 in Scranton, Arkansas, a small town of German Catholics located about 10 miles northeast of the Abbey. His father was Casper; his mother Anna (Heim).

Father Michael attended St. Ignatius school in Scranton; for high school he attended Subiaco Academy. He continued in Subiaco's college and seminary and in 1933 became a novice in the monastery. First profession followed on September 16, 1934; solemn profession three years later. On June 3, 1939 he was ordained priest in Little Rock by the late Bishop John B. Morris.

For four years following his ordination he taught in our Academy. He was then appointed Novice Master and Instructor of Clerics in 1943, a responsibility he held until 1953.

After the late Abbot Paul Nahlen founded "The Abbey Message", Father Michael was its first long-term editor, a position he held from 1940-1957. During this same period he served as Secretary of the Subiaco Alumni Association.

Arkansans of the 40's and 50's remember Father Michael as a supporter of rural life and a worker for social justice. From 1945 to 1948 he was Director of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference. In his home state he served as advisor of the Logan County Farmers Cooperative Association and was a member of the Advisory Council of the Arkansas Extension Society. He was also active in the local efforts to obtain rural electrification for Arkansas farm communities. He was instrumental in the formation of the Credit Union of Logan County.

Many Catholic adults of the Arkansas River Valley knew Father Michael as a persistent worker in the Subiaco Deanery and its Study Clubs in the early 1940's.

Father Michael believed that the monastic community of Subiaco should use its gifts to help the civic community develop. He worked toward this end. By constant encouragement Father Michael inspirited many civic leaders to push for the development of the Arkansas River Valley, especially through the navigation efforts of the river.

A man of vision, he knew the price the forerunner must pay. He promoted racial integration and worked for fair housing for the poor. This allied him with Dorothy Day, Friendship House and other national social justice movements of that time. He was an early supporter of the Liturgical Movement, working with and bringing Subiaco Abbey some of the leaders in that movement in the U.S.

As a young man he was an outstanding high school athlete at Subiaco Academy in football, basketball and baseball. He loved fishing and hunting.

His years as abbot were marked by great physical expansion of the Abbey. The brick and mortar work most dear to him was the completion of the Abbey Church of St. Benedict in 1959. His promotion of the retreat movement saw the completion of Coury House in 1963. In response to the appeal of Pope John XXIII and through his leadership the Abbey established missions in both Nigeria and Belize.

In his personal life as a monk and abbot, Father Michael stands out as a quiet and effective leader. He preached faith; he lived that same faith. He will always be remembered as a kind man with a sense of humor. A classmate characterized him as a "man of energy and vision". He applied his kindness and energy to a creative vision for people's growth.

The Rosary/Wake Service will be conducted in St. Benedict's Church at the Abbey on Tuesday, January 3, 1989 at 7:00 p.m. The Mass of Christian Burial will be in St. Benedict's Church on Wednesday, January 4, 1989 at 2:00 p.m. with burial in the abbey cemetery.

We ask the monks of our federation to join us in praying for repose of the soul of Father Michael and to offer the customary suffrages.


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4th (IV) Abbot of Subiaco Abbey


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  • Created by: Barbara Lensing
  • Added: 2 Aug 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 55806670
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Rev Fr Abbot Michael Lensing (11 Jan 1916–30 Dec 1988), Find A Grave Memorial no. 55806670, citing Subiaco Abbey Cemetery, Subiaco, Logan County, Arkansas, USA ; Maintained by Barbara Lensing (contributor 47198153) .