Aelred Tegels, OSB
April 6, 1922 - March 17, 2003
April 6, 1922 - March 17, 2003
Born in Sedan, Minnesota, April 6, 1922, the second of four sons of John Anton and Veronica O'Connor Tegels, young Hilary spent his childhood and early adolescence on a farm near Osakis. Upon completion of his elementary education in the Osakis public schools, he continued his education in Saint John's Preparatory School and in the University.
Entering the novitiate of Saint John's Abbey in 1942, he professed monastic vows the following year. He graduated from college in 1945 and, upon completion of his seminary studies, was ordained a priest in 1948. He studied church history at Fordham University in summer sessions from 1948 through 1950.
Father Aelred served as an instructor in Saint John's University, teaching courses in Latin, history and religious studies. In the spring of 1951, newly elected Abbot Baldwin Dworschak OSB gave permission for him to volunteer for service as a chaplain in the US Air Force. Father Aelred served at bases in the US and Japan until the fall of 1955 when he retired as captain.
After his retirement from the Air Force, Father Aelred continued graduate studies in Belgium and Paris. He obtained a Licentiate in historical sciences from the University of Louvain in 1958 and the Certificate from the Institut Superieur de Liturgie in 1960.
Beginning in 1960, Father Aelred taught liturgy and church history in the seminary. From 1967 through 1969 he taught at the University of Notre Dame during the spring and summer sessions. He served as Dean of our Graduate School of Theology from 1969 to 1973.
In 1965 he was named editor of Worship and collaborated with the late Father Michael Marx OSB in that capacity until 1986. In his column, the "Chronicle," Father Aelred commented regularly, and with panache, on the progress of liturgical reform. In January 1988 the North American Academy of Liturgy honored Father Aelred, "of salty wit and sharp historical sense," with the prestigious Berakah Award for his work on Worship magazine.
Calling on his profound knowledge and reverence for tradition, Father Aelred guided the creation of the present form of the Liturgy of the Hours at Saint John's that has served the monks and their guests well for over 30 years. Although he did not agree with the concept of ritual concelebration and the rubrics that accompany it, he concelebrated in monastic communities where it was the practice.
While continuing to teach in the seminary and graduate school part-time, Father Aelred served as pastor of St. John's Parish in Hugo, Minn., from 1976 to 1982 and at St. Benedict's Parish in Avon from 1982 to 1983. From 1986 to 1991 he was pastor of St. Mary's Mission on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota.
In the fall of 1991 he returned to Europe to become the Field Director for Operations of the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library. From 1992 until 1999 he described and oversaw the microfilming of German collections of pre-1600 manuscripts in Bremen, Erfurt, Jena, Weimar, Sigmaringen, Beuron and Pommersfelden; and the Swiss Benedictine collections in Einsiedeln, Engelberg and Sarnen. At the end of Father Aelred's tenure he was instrumental in forging a new form of technical collaboration between the Royal Library of Sweden and HMML. Characteristically, he had taught himself to read Swedish.
Acutely sensitive and rather shy, Father Aelred extended a gentle and respectful courtesy to friend and acquaintance. He did not suffer fools gladly, but he amused his hearers with a sotto voce wit that deftly punctured pretension and brilliantly exposed sham. Always an avid reader, he devoured the best foreign and domestic journals that kept him alert to and informed about world politics and current trends in church and society. Father Aelred mastered a succession of sophisticated computer programs in his work for HMML.
He embodied his fervent love of the liturgy by faithful attendance at celebrations of the Eucharist and the Hours, and he served unstintingly on numerous abbey committees that dealt with our common worship. He died at the Abbey shortly before afternoon Mass in St. Raphael Hall after prayerful visits by monks and family on the Feast of Saint Patrick, March 17, 2003.
Father Aelred is survived by his older sister, Julia Didier, and his younger brother, Joseph, both of Osakis.
The Liturgy of Christian Burial was celebrated for Father Aelred at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, 20 March, in Saint John's Abbey Church with burial in the abbey cemetery.