This web site is a memorial to those individuals who were passionate about the reform of the
Roman Catholic liturgy as set forth in Sacrosanctum Concilium (the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy)
and who now, in eternal life, worship the God whom they served in this life.

Cletus Madsen

Cletus Madsen
December 1, 1905 - July 16, 2002

Music is so vital to our spiritual life that Saint Augustine wrote, “The one who sings, prays twice.” And while he is recognized for his contributions to liturgical music, Monsignor Cletus Madsen enriched Saint Ambrose University in so many other ways over nine decades—as an academy and college student, faculty member, chaplain, administrator, and board member.

Born December 1, 1905, in Burlington, Iowa, Cletus graduated from Saint Ambrose Academy in 1924 and from Saint Ambrose College in 1928. He received a licentiate in sacred theology from the North American College in Rome and was ordained to the priesthood in 1931.

In 1932, he began seven decades of nearly continuous service to Saint Ambrose University when he was appointed to the music faculty. “His influence in the liturgical movement and in building the status of Catholic music educators is etched in the history of those movements in this country,” says Father Ed Dunn, theology professor and former student and colleague of Msgr. Madsen.

Msgr. Madsen chaired both the music and fine arts departments until 1965, and served as chaplain of students from 1962 to 1965. In 1970 he was appointed a trustee of the college and to the board of directors in 1976.

After serving as pastor of Saint Wencelaus Parish, Iowa City, he returned to Saint Ambrose University at the age of 76 as assistant to the president in 1981 and remained in that position until 1998.

He received numerous accolades from Saint Ambrose, most notably an honorary doctorate in 1982, and in 1979 Madsen Hall in the Galvin Fine Arts Center was named in his honor.

Yet once a music teacher, always a music teacher. “Whenever we would put together an alumni band for homecoming,” says Bob Bosco '59, “Msgr. Madsen always loved conducting 'Ambrosian Oaks.'”

Msgr. Madsen died on July 16, 2002.

Tribute prepared by Saint Ambrose University and published in the Spring 2003 issue of Scene, a magazine of Saint Ambrose University.