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Fr. Robert Morhous

February 11, 2016
Lake Placid News

Father Robert Morhous, O.C.S.O., 83, of St. Joseph's Abbey, Spencer, Massachusetts, passed away peacefully in the abbey's infirmary on the morning of Jan. 28, 2016.

Born George Reid Morhous in Albany on Sept. 10, 1932, he was the son of Francis E. and Frances V. (Smith) Morhous. He was named for his grandfathers, Reid Morhous of AuSable Forks and George Adirondack Smith of the Smith family of Wilmington and Springfield, Massachusetts.

Fr. Robert was raised in Springfield, Massachusetts, where he attended Holy Name Elementary School and Cathedral High School, graduating in 1950. A talented artist, he brought creativity to his many endeavors in life. His art training included tutoring from his cousin and artist the late Averil Conwell of Lake Placid. He spent summers living with family in Wilmington while exploring, collaborating and fly fishing. He worked for Arto Monaco in Upper Jay and with cousins at Shea's Market in Lake Placid. He treasured his seasons working with the celebrated crew at Santa's Workshop in North Pole, New York, from 1949 to 1954.

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Fr. Robert graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1954. On Sept. 11, 1954, he entered St. Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts. He pronounced his solemn vows in 1959 and was ordained a priest later that same year. His seminary training was conducted both at St. Joseph's Abbey and at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (the Angelicum) in Rome, Italy. He also received a degree in liturgy from Notre Dame University in Indiana.

Fr. Robert became the second ordained priest in the family, following his uncle, the Rev. Fr. William H. Smith of the Springfield, Massachusetts, diocese, with whom he had a close bond.

Over the span of his 61 years in monastic life as a Trappist monk, Fr. Robert faithfully served St. Joseph's Abbey in very many capacities. He was sub-master of the choir novices, porter, cellarer, guest master, retreat master, shepherd of the abbey flock of sheep, farm manager, director of The Holy Rood Guild and director of Trappist Preserves. He was in charge of the abbey conservation and woodland management program, and he designed and coordinated the substantial renovation and addition to the abbey infirmary. He was honored to wear Badge No. 5 as a member of the Spencer Abbey Fire Department.

In the years directly following Vatican Council II, he was the abbey's director of liturgy, translating and adapting liturgical texts from Latin into English. He dedicated his life to prayer and the humility of hard work and study in supporting his community. His spirit, love, wit and compassion are remembered by all who knew him.

In addition to his monastic brothers, he is survived by several cousins and many faithful friends.

His family wishes to thank the monastic brothers and lay staff at St. Joseph's Abbey infirmary and Gentiva Hospice Care for the dedicated care they gave him in his final days.

With gratitude for the gift of his presence among us, the monks commend Fr. Robert's soul to your prayers.

Fr. Robert was celebrated amongst many of his religious and lay family and friends at a Funeral Mass at St. Joseph's Abbey on Feb. 1, with burial that day aside his brethren in the abbey cemetery.

Donations in remembrance of Fr. Robert may be directed to St. Joseph's Abbey, 167 N. Spencer Road, Spencer, MA 01562.



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