Fr. Wilfred Retires October 27, 2015 By Collegeville Institute Leave a Comment At the board dinner in September, Collegeville Institute staff honored Fr. Wilfred Theisen, OSB, for his 40 years of service as the Saint John’s Abbey/Collegeville Institute liaison. Former Collegeville Institute executive director Patrick Henry shared a video tribute, and Elisa Schneider presented Fr. Wilfred with a custom-embroidered SJU athletic jacket which reads, “Coach Theisen, Collegeville Institute.” We offer these stories below, originally printed in Inside the Institute, as a way to remember and honor Fr. Wilfred for his service. Anybody who has been around Saint John’s Abbey or University campus, the Collegeville Institute, or a Johnnie athletic event for any real length of time knows Fr. Wilfred Theisen, OSB. How can one not? He’s affable, lovable, and hospitable. He’s congenial, kind, and charming. He’s witty, noisy, and fun-loving. And he’s a straight shooter. Have a question about Johnnie football players? Wilfred knows who’s playing well, who’s hurt, and who’s expected to have a great season. Wondering about where the Catholic Church stands on women’s ordination? Wilfred will tell you. Curious about the architecture of the Abbey Church? Wilfred will relate details about it’s construction from his first-person witness and experience. Wilfred is retiring from his position as Saint John’s Abbey/Collegeville Institute liaison, a position he has held for, well, forever (40 years). He is one of Saint John’s great story-tellers, so to turn the tables, we share below three Wilfred stories for you to enjoy, all from former Collegeville Institute scholars and residents. “Thank you for your years of service. We remember when we were in residence during my sabbatical leave, you returned from a trip to England where you were for several weeks. You reported that your trip was ‘to check out a footnote.’ We have remembered that with fondness and have used your statement ourselves from time to time.” — Ted Stoneberg, Spring 1994 “On my arrival at the Collegeville Institute, Wilfred asked me if I needed anything. ‘As a matter of fact, I do,’ I said. ‘I am going to play the part of a Jesuit priest next summer and I need a photo of me in costume by tomorrow.’ Wilfred said, ‘Here take my habit,’ and before I knew it he got out of his habit, rolled it up, handed it to me, and said, ‘A Jesuit wouldn’t need the scapular, would he?’ Speed like that doesn’t come from mere talent nor simply from practice, but only from a big heart.” — Shelly Matthews and George Frein (2004/05, Spring 2015) “During my first residency, Wilfred asked if I’d like to attend a Johnnie basketball game with him. I went. I had heard about his love of Johnnie sports, but I wasn’t expecting what I saw – or more accurately, heard – him do at this game. Just about every time the Johnnies brought the ball down the court, Wilfred would pound – and I mean really pound – the bleachers with his hand, while at the same time bellowing in a loud voice ‘Go, Johnnies! Go Johnnies!’ So I’m sitting next to this cassocked monk, whom I didn’t really know all that well at the time, in a noisy basketball arena, on a vibrating bleacher seat, with the sound of ‘Go, Johnnies’ ringing in my ear, not really sure if this was typical or if I needed to say something to someone. Seven years later, when I returned, this time with my wife, I told her that one thing we absolutely had to do during our stay was to attend a Johnnie basketball game with Wilfred. I hinted to her that she would be in for a unique spectating experience. We went. Wilfred did not disappoint!” — Dave and Lauren Matz (Fall 2004, Fall 2011) Like this post? Subscribe to have new posts sent to you by email the same day they are posted.