Father Barnabas Gillespie, OSB
Community: Saint Meinrad
Date of Birth:04/13/1947
First Profession: 08/24/1973
Date of Death: 07/28/2017
Shortly after midnight on July 28, 2017, Father Barnabas Gillespie, O.S.B., monk and priest of Saint Meinrad Archabbey, suffered a heart attack just outside his monastery cell. Attempts to revive him began immediately, but were unsuccessful.
Father Barnabas was born in Cincinnati, OH, on April 13, 1947, the first of four boys to George David and Lucille Virginia (Kennedy) Gillespie, and was given the name Michael David at his baptism. After completing his elementary education at Saint Boniface School in Cincinnati, he attended Saint Francis High School Seminary in that city. He took his college freshman year at Duns Scotus College, Cincinnati, before transferring to the University of Cincinnati.
Father Barnabas entered our novitiate in 1972. He professed his simple vows on August 24, 1973, and then completed his senior year in our college, graduating the following year with a Bachelor of Arts in history. During his years in the juniorate, he responded to various needs of the community, serving as assistant manager of the Guest House, working in the Development Office, editing the monastery's Community Bulletin, and overseeing the physical condition of the monastery as house prefect.
During this time, he also pursued studies in our Seminary and School of Theology. Father Barnabas professed solemn vows on August 24, 1977. Completing seminary in 1980, he received a Master of Divinity from our School of Theology and was ordained to the priesthood on April 27. Immediately following his ordination, he was appointed guest master of the monastery, a position he held for two years.
In 1982, Father Barnabas was given his first parish assignment and served as associate pastor at St. Benedict Parish, Evansville, IN, for four years. He then returned to the hill and, over the next 10 years, worked in departments such as Mail and Duplicating Services, and held at various times such diverse positions as retreat director, liturgical master of ceremonies, refectorian, house prefect, and director of the vestry.
Father Barnabas returned to parish ministry in 1996, serving for one year as administrator of the churches of St. Augustine, Leopold, IN, and St. Mark, Perry County, IN, and then for one year as associate pastor of Guardian Angels Parish in Cincinnati. In 1998 he began a 14-year assignment as pastor of the parishes of St. Michael, Cannelton, IN, and St. Pius, Troy, IN. He returned to the hill in 2012, ministering as a spiritual director in our seminary and assisting in the seminary's liturgical practicum program.
Father Barnabas established many relationships during his 14 years of parish work in Tell City and Cannelton, relationships he assiduously maintained. He delighted in visiting former parishioners at the hospital or the nursing homes, and often accepted invitations to preside at the funerals of those for whom he had been pastor. Father Barnabas especially enjoyed serving as chaplain to the Tell City Chapter of the Knights of Columbus, a ministry he offered from 2012 until his death.
Father Barnabas was a cantor and member of the monastic schola.He also devoted much time and energy to the upkeep of the monastery's infirmary chapel. Life in the monastery has its share of unexpected demands, and on many occasions Father Barnabas cheerfully and generously pinch hit when the assignment of a confrere was suddenly vacated.
An avid reader, Father Barnabas especially enjoyed novels set in medieval times. He readily acknowledged his love of travel and often made an extra effort to visit the gravesites of America's presidents and other locations of historical interest.
Father Barnabas was seldom in the best of health, but his death in the early morning hours of July 28 was unexpected. May God grant him a place at the heavenly liturgy, for which he had such a deep and abiding love during his monastic and priestly life.
Father Barnabas was a jubilarian both of profession and priesthood. He died at the age of 70, in the 43rd year of his monastic profession and the 37th year of priesthood.
The Office of the Dead will be prayed at 7 p.m. CT on Wednesday, August 2, in the Archabbey Church. The funeral liturgy will be celebrated at 10 a.m. CT on Thursday, August 3, in the Archabbey Church. Burial will follow in the Archabbey Cemetery.