Father Fr. Cletus Miller, OSB
Community: Saint Meinrad
Date of Birth:08/17/1918
First Profession: 08/07/1939
Date of Death: 08/25/2016
View Funeral Homily
On August 25, 2016, Father Cletus Miller, O.S.B., monk and priest of Saint Meinrad Archabbey, died peacefully in the Lord after a period of declining health. He was a jubilarian both of profession and of priesthood and, at 98 years, was senior in age in the Swiss-American Congregation.
Father Cletus was born in Evansville, Indiana, on August 17, 1918, the fourth of six children to John William and Emma Matilda (Lindenshmidt) Miller. He was given the name Elmer Matthew at his baptism. After completing his elementary education at Saint Benedict's Parish School in Evansville, he entered the minor seminary at Saint Meinrad in 1933.
Father Cletus was invested as a novice of Saint Meinrad on August 6, 1938, professed his simple vows on August 7, 1939, and his solemn vows on February 4, 1943. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 30, 1944. After his ordination, he served briefly as the assistant athletic director for the seminary.
In February 1945, Father Cletus began his first assignment in the missions, serving as prefect at Immaculate Conception Mission in Stephan, South Dakota. He moved on to Saint Michael Mission in Saint Michael, North Dakota, for five years before becoming, in 1950, a founding member of the Blue Cloud community at Marvin, SD. In 1953 Father Cletus began a 10-year period of service at Saint Paul Mission in Marty, SD, where he worked as prefect and as a field missionary.
In 1963, Father Cletus returned to Blue Cloud Abbey, where over the next five years he served as brother instructor, vestiarius, house prefect, guest master and assistant infirmarian. In 1968, he returned to Saint Paul Mission in Marty as shop supervisor, before again returning to Blue Cloud a short time later and resuming his duties there as guest master. In 1971, he was appointed the superior at Stephan and remained there for six years until returning to Blue Cloud in 1977.
In 1981, Father Cletus accepted an assignment to Blue Cloud's Resurrection Priory in Guatemala, where he served faithfully for the next 28 years. He was chaplain for the cloistered Carmelite nuns in Coban, helped with parochial work, was a beloved confessor for many of the clergy in the Coban area, and served as treasurer for the community. A fall occasioned his return to Blue Cloud in 2009.
Father Cletus readily admitted that the closing of Blue Cloud Abbey in 2012 was an emotional event for him. Nevertheless, he always thought of Saint Meinrad as his "alma mater," and had a definite allegiance to our house. He said that when the decision to close Blue Cloud was made, he knew without hesitation that he wanted to come back to Saint Meinrad.
In November 2012, Father Cletus began a period of probation for transfer of stability to Saint Meinrad. Ordinarily, a period such as this would last a year but, given Father Cletus's age - and that he originally professed his vows for and was a capitular of Saint Meinrad - the Saint Meinrad Chapter approved Archabbot Justin DuVall's request that the period be shortened to one month. Father Cletus's transfer of stability back to Saint Meinrad became official on December 5, 2012.
Father Cletus returned to Saint Meinrad shortly after his 94th birthday. He was somewhat concerned he would not be able to contribute anything to the common life at Saint Meinrad, but quickly tackled that anxiety by volunteering for and performing simple but necessary community tasks, such as washing the refectory tables several times a day. His faithfulness to Eucharist, the Divine Office, and the common meal and recreation was admirable. He was not a man of many words with us, but his keen wit was regularly offered and appreciated.
Father Cletus had celebrated with the community his 98th birthday the very week before his death. He was in the 77th year of his monastic profession and the 72nd of his priesthood.
The Office of the Dead will be prayed at 7 p.m. on Sunday, August 28, in the Archabbey Church. The Funeral Liturgy will be celebrated at 10 a.m. on Monday, August 29, in the Archabbey Church. Burial will follow in the Archabbey Cemetery. For the repose of his soul, three Masses will be offered by each monk of the Archabbey. The customary suffrages are recommended to all monks of our Congregation.