Msgr. Richard Schuler, RIP… 89th birthday

Today would have been the 89th birthday of Msgr. Richard Schuler, pastor and musician. 

He labored in the dark years after the Council to keep sound liturgy alive, promote proper sacred music, foster vocations to the priesthood, and hold the line against both heresy and stupidity.

In this Year of the Priest, would you take a moment to pray for the repose of the soul of Msgr. Schuler? 

Many people in places far and wide indirectly owe a lot to his work, though they might not have ever known him in life.

And… an interesting tidbit.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. TNCath says:

    I had the opportunity to attend Mass at St. Agnes only once when he was pastor. In addition to the beauty and reverence of the Mass, I remember the parish to be a very active, friendly, and happy place. What I always wondered was how in the world Msgr. Schuler was able to keep such a great thing going for as long as he did without criticism or sabotage from archdiocesan officials and/or the archbishop at the time. Msgr. Schuler must have had lots of friends in high places.

  2. Tim Ferguson says:

    Msgr. Schuler did have friends in high places (which didn’t shield him from regular criticism from the chancery or attempts at sabotage), but he also had friends in “low” places. One of my favorite memories of the few months I lived at St. Agnes was the afternoon that Monsignor knocked on my door and asked if I was doing anything important. I said no, and he said, I’d like you to come with me for a bit.

    We drove to a pretty decrepit-looking apartment building and walked up a couple flights of stairs. On the way he had explained to me that the woman we were going to see was agoraphobic. she had contacted him several months ago, saying that, though she seldom left her apartment, she did a lot of reading. In the course of her reading, she had become convinced of the truth of the Catholic Church. She wanted to be baptized. He met with her several times, instructing her in the faith until he was convinced she was ready for baptism. He set up a date and time and waited for her in the Church, but she failed to show up. When he called her, she said that she couldn’t bring herself to leave the apartment that day – her anxieties were just too severe. So, he told her he’d be over to visit the next week – that is what we were doing.

    When we got to her apartment, he introduced me, and she welcomed us in. He spoke with her at length, in the most pastoral way I had ever witnessed. When she said that she was second-guessing her decision to become Catholic, because she wasn’t sure that she could make it to Mass on Sundays, owing to her psychosis, he reassured her that no one is bound to the impossible, and if it was truly impossible for her to make it to Mass, she was not under that obligation. He encouraged her to continue in counseling and medication, and to make every effort to come to Mass.
    He also cautioned her about the ways in which Satan would use her mental condition to prevent her from joining the Church. In the end, he convinced her to be baptized.

    He baptized her then and there in the kitchen sink, using the ritual in Latin at her request, with me as her godfather, confirmed her and gave her her first Holy Communion from the pyx in his pocket. We stayed with her for awhile after that, chatting – the glow on her face was amazing. As we were leaving, the bells from St. Agnes were ringing in the distance. He told her that she should remember, everytime she hears the bells ringing, she should know that she has a parish praying for her – and that she now has an obligation to pray for her parish, and especially her pastor (with that trademark twinkle in his eye).

    I saw her once or twice after that at Mass, always in the back, by herself. I didnt get her address, and can’t even remember her name, but I pray for her often.

    After that experience, anytime someone would speak of Msgr. Schuler as cold-hearted and reactionary – “Msgr. Rigid J. Schuler” – I would laugh and say, you have no idea what you are talking about.

  3. ssoldie says:

    I remember calling him numerous times when I needed advice on Church teachings. He was always right on.

  4. Random Friar says:

    Tim: beautiful story!

    Prayers offered up for his soul.

  5. irishgirl says:

    Yes, Tim, that’s a beautiful story-a truly pastoral priest Msgr. Schuler was!

    Offered up an Ave for his soul.

    Nice photo, too….

  6. Agnes says:

    Such a beautiful picture. I came into the Church 12 years ago and I remember trying to figure out “where I fit” in the parish and what being a Catholic was all about. I decided to rub elbows with some kind old ladies in the Altar & Rosary Society and learned much from them. But there were times where the squabbling got so ridiculous and I would look at Msgr. and he would look at me with a spark in his eye, and some hilarious remark would come out of one or both of us that would put the church hall in an uproar. I was thus trained in the art of snarkiness.

    The old ladies doted on him. “Oh. Msgr, would like another cup of coffee? Another powdered donut?” It didn’t bother him – in fact, he would beam. I remember being astonished. “Oh for pete’s sake, they treat him like a rock star!” My old friend quickly explained.”No no no, you don’t understand. He married us to our husbands, baptized our children and gave them Holy Communion, raised our sons to be priests, and buried our husbands! What else are we supposed to do?”

    If that’s clericalism, oh well. We loved Richard very much. Pray for us, Msgr. Schuler, as we pray for you.

  7. jppelt says:

    Msgr Schuler was my escape while attending Carleton College. Little did I know how much he would influence me. I will never forget his masses, their beauty, their reverence and how they always inspired my thoughts and actions towards God.

    One thing that I do not see mentioned is that he is one of the best confessors I’ve ever had the privilege of visiting. He would really engage, ask pointed questions and offer advice whether scriptural, practical or spiritual – rarely done these days. You left the confessional feeling especially refreshed and close to Our Lord.

    Besides all the seminarians he nurtured at St Agnes, he nurtured a great many more itinerant vocations – young men who visited or lived in MN for short periods of time.

    May his memory live forever.

    Peace and Grace,

  8. Flambeaux says:

    I did not ever have the pleasure of meeting or knowing him. But the fruit that has clearly resulted from his labor in his corner of the vineyard during difficult seasons incline me favorably towards him.

    I shall certainly offer prayers for the repose of his soul.

    Thank you for the reminder, Fr.Z.

  9. JosephMary says:

    Today is also the 9th anniversary of the death of Fr. John Hardon SJ–that Eucharistic giant of a priest.

  10. Andy Milam says:

    Fr. Zuhlsdorf,

    I prayed for him this morning. It is still hard to believe that he’s gone. He was such an inspirtation to so many.

    Your post does him well. Thanks for keeping his memory fresh for all to know. I miss him.


  11. Beautiful story, T. Ferguson.
    I had the wonderful opportunity of staying at the rectory of St. Agnes while Msgr. Schuler was pastor (as the guest of T. Ferguson!), being able to talk with him at table and really being given so much in such a short amount of time; he gave me the book (I can’t remember its name, darnnit, that told the story of the Liturgical Movement in this country) and I am so grateful for that experience and the wonderful example he was for so many. May he rest in peace!

  12. Andy Milam says:

    Cum Angelis Canare? Is that the book you’re thinking about?

  13. Andy Milam: Yes, that is one of them. The other was an orange covered book that I somehow lost in my travels to CT in teaching at a seminary. Can’t remember that one. Thanks!

  14. Andy Milam says:

    CAC is the orange covered book. Just an FYI….

  15. Andy Milam says:

    You’re welcome.

    I lived with the Monsignor for over two years….I’ve got several copies of the book. It is a fantastic read…..especially if you are a music/liturgically minded Catholic.

  16. Mark Pavlak says:

    Hundreds of times I served/attended Mass with Msgr. If I was the lector during our school chapel Mass, he would always ask me if I understood the words or if I needed help pronouncing any of them. Usually I would need help pronouncing names of people (e.g. Elimelech, Zabbud, et al the great Hebrew names). He then would point to words in my reading and ask what they meant – usually I was able to answer them. But I remember one time he pointed to the word “the” and asked me what it meant…. I had no answer. He just smiled and laughed.

    I also helped my mom with coffee and donuts after Mass usually about once a month for several years. We always set aside a box of donuts for the priests at the rectory. I would buzz the back door of the rectory when delivering the goodies and Monsignor’s face would light up; he knew why I was there. Often times he would re-heat the donuts in the microwave. He told me that he called the microwave “the Resurrection machine” because it brought his food back to life. His dry humor killed me every time.

    Charming, witty, brilliant, holy, and, to me, like a grandpa, the great Monsignor was a model for the young and old alike. It was an honor just that he knew my name.

  17. JWMartell says:

    As a sometime visitor both to St. Agnes and your blog, I wasn’t aware of any connection, but it doesn’t surprise me in the least. The parish website still hosts or has links to several of Msgr. Schuler’s writings at . The one that really struck me (particularly having been born over a decade after the new Mass and English translation) is the one titled “How can you have a Latin Mass?”, which was written in 1976, that was (it seems to me) his effort at clearing up the confusion surrounding Vatican II and the new Mass, which seem to have sprung up immediately.

  18. Agnes says:

    It has been fun to reminisce. Fr. Erickson’s homily noted his birthday as a special day for our parish. St. Agnes, thanks to his legacy, is world renowned for its excellent music and liturgy “done well”. I’m sure the folks of St. Agnes will continue to honor his memory in the truly beautiful worship of God.

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