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In Memoriam ~ Fr. Simeon James Thole, OSB ’53

Fr. Simeon Thole, OSB ’53

James Thole was born on April 21, 1935, and grew up in Moorhead, Minnesota, the second oldest of four children to Otto and Margaret (Acheson) Thole. His father was a bookkeeper for the local power company and his mother was a homemaker. James attended Saint Joseph’s Parochial School (1941-1949).

James enrolled at Saint John’s Preparatory School (1949-1953) where he participated in dramatics and worked on the school newspaper. Immediately following graduation, he entered Saint John’s University and two years later in 1955 entered the novitiate of Saint John’s Abbey, receiving the religious name of Simeon. He made his first profession as a Benedictine monk in 1956. He continued his education at Saint John’s University, graduating with a B.A. degree in 1958 with a major in philosophy and classics. Priesthood studies followed culminating an ordination to the priesthood in 1962.

Father Simeon taught English and Religion at Saint John’s Preparatory School (1962-1978). During the summers, he took graduate courses at Marquette University, Milwaukee, and earned an M.A. i

n English (1965).

Father Simeon spent a sabbatical year, 1977, in Tucson, Arizona, perhaps dedicated mostly to his writing. In addition to authoring two books on prayer and parental ministry, he wrote a novel in which the main character was called Peter Prep.

Father Simeon served as chaplain to the Sisters of Mount Saint Benedict Monastery, Crookston, from 1978-1991 as well as an instructor in English and Religion at Mount Saint Benedict High School.

After five years as pastor of Saint John the Baptist Parish, Collegeville (1991-1996), he was appointed administrator for six years at Saint Leo’s Abbey (Florida).

Returning to Saint John’s in 2002, Father Simeon served as a spiritual director, giving conferences for the Benedictine Day of Prayer (2006-2016), secretary for the Senior Council (2003 to his death) and celebrated Sunday Mass at Saint Benedict’s Monastery, Saint Joseph and Saint Paul’s Monastery, Saint Paul.

Father Simon died on July 19 in the retirement center of Saint John’s Abbey. He is survived by his sister, Theresa Barrett, and his brother, Brother Otto Thole, OSB, and the community at Saint John’s.

The monks, family and friends will receive the body of Father Simeon on July 24 at 7:00 p.m. at evening prayer and will celebrate the Mass of Christian Burial in Saint John’s Abbey and University Church o

n July 25 at 10:30 a.m. with interment in Saint John’s Cemetery following the service.

The services will be live-streamed (