|Death Claims Pioneer Monk.
Vol. 14, No. 9, Abbey Chronicle, 26 November 1947, 1, 3.
A life devoted to God’s service was brought to a close when Rev. Augustine Fox, O.S.B., died at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Dickinson, N. Dak., Saturday, Nov. 8, at 2:20 p.m.
John Peter Fox was born April 7, 1875, in Weinsheim, Trier. While he was still a boy, his father and mother immigrated to this country and made their home in the state of Washington. After he had finished his high school education in that state, his parents sent him to Conception Abbey in Missouri for his college years. It was there that he met Prior Vincent Wehrle, head of the new Benedictine foundation in North Dakota, St. Gall’s Priory located at Devils Lake. From the Prior he learned of the pressing need for missioners among the settlers in North Dakota. The appeal of this stirring work was strong for him, and he volunteered to become a member of St. Gall’s. On April 4, 1897, he was invested as a novice at St. Gall’s and then sent back to Conception Abbey for his novitiate. The young religious, now called Fr. Augustine, after completing his novitiate, took simple vows on July 16, 1898.
He professed his Solemn Vows at Einsiedeln in Switzerland, where Prior Wehrle had sent him to complete his philosophical and theological studies. At that famous, old abbey he was also ordained on August 10, 1901, and five days later offered his first solemn high Mass in the Gnaden Kapelle.
Returning to America, shortly afterwards, he was named prefect of the school of St. Gall’s. This appointment lasted from Oct. 1, 1901, to Jan. 5, 1902. During this time he was also prior of the Community there.
In 1902 Fr. Augustine first began the work that was to be his life’s calling, pastoral duties among the people of North Dakota. His first parish was at Crary, N. Dak., where he built a church which was destroyed by fire in 1930. In 1903 he was transferred to St. Joseph’s parish in Devils Lake. During his nine year residence there as pastor he built the church and parish house.
Fr. Augustine was moved in 1912 to Crown Butte as pastor. A year later another change found him pastor of St. Anthony’s and at St. Anthony, N. Dak. He remained there until 1919.
A new phase of work began for him in 1919. At that time he was named rector of St. Mary’s College at Richardton. During his administration as rector he gained many friends among the student body and others who came in contact with him.
For 1 year in 1924-25, he taught history at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota. Upon his return to North Dakota in 1925 he became pastor of SS. Peter and Paul Church at Karlsruhe. Although he remained there only two years, he was able to build another church and parish house in that short time.
In 1927 he received an appointment that was to last for twenty years. As pastor of SS. Peter and Paul in Strasburg, he encouraged many Catholic activities that made his parish prominent in the State.
Early in 1947, ill health forced Fr. Augustine to give up active pastoral work. On March 25 he returned to the Abbey to recuperate. During the seven months since his retirement his physical condition at times seemed to have improved, but early this month a blood clot in his left leg caused gangrene infection. He was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital on Nov. 4. His changes of recovery were lessened when he suffered several strokes in quick succession. A final stroke on Saturday, Nov. 8, proved fatal.
Funeral services for Fr. Augustine took place in the Abbey Church Wednesday, Nov. 12. The Office of the Dead, beginning at 9:30 a.m., was followed by a Solemn Requiem Mass celebrated by Father Prior in the absence of Father Abbot. Deacon of the Mass was Father Florian, and Father James was subdeacon. After the Mass Father Thomas delivered the funeral sermon.
Present for the services Wednesday morning were 38 Benedictine Fathers, including 17 Fathers in parishes; the Rt. Rev. Msrg. Joseph Raith and 22 priests of the Bismarck dioceses; the Clerics and Brothers of the Community; the student body, and a large group of Father Augustine’s friends and former parishioners.
His body now rests in the Abbey cemetery with the other deceased of this monastery, for he is buried beside the grave of Rev. Adalbert Kraft, who died in 1941.