In the late afternoon of the feast of St. Benedict, Br. Anthony (Patrick) Shaughnessy, OSB, died peacefully at St. Joseph Nursing Home in Lacon, Illinois. He was 84.
The youngest of six children, Br. Anthony was born on March 6, 1931 in Birmingham, Michigan to William C. and Agnes Shaughnessy and was baptized under the patronage of St. Patrick. He attended Saint Mary’s High School in Royal Oak, Michigan, where he played center and nose guard for the football team. It was there that he met his future wife, Margaret Anne Gignac who was a cheerleader. They were married in 1952. He graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Detroit. He had a full career in management and quality control operations with several large engineering firms, working in Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and Kansas before moving in Davenport, Iowa where he retired. He was married for 45 years and had 10 children. His wife passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack in 1997.
Though he always had a full-time job, Patrick was very active in religious studies and served in many lay capacities in his home parishes. After the death of his wife, Patrick first learned about the Benedictine way of life during a retreat, and continued his spiritual development under the guidance of Sr. Audrey Cleary, OSB of St. Mary’s Monastery, Rock Island. After much consideration and prayer, he sought the blessing of his children as he began the transition into monastic life, taking the name Anthony. He professed first vows on February 9, 2001. His children were present as he took his final vows on July 11, 2004. His family visited Saint Bede often and enjoyed coming to know their patriarch in his new role as a Benedictine monk.
Br. Anthony worked diligently at whatever task he was assigned, whether in the apple orchard, where he served for a time as operations manager, as assistant sacristan, supplies manager, or as director of abbey housekeeping, a job at which he especially excelled. He designed and built custom magazine racks for the reading room, supervised the installation of many new windows in the monastery building, and did a thorough energy study which resulted in a significant reduction in costs. Upon the death of Fr. Sebastian in 2006, he served for a time as prior and junior master.
As his health would permit, Br. Anthony continued working on various maintenance projects until July of 2014, when injuries sustained from a fall required time in a rehab center. Other injuries as well as complications arising from congestive heart failure necessitated his moving to St. Joseph’s Nursing Home in Lacon, Illinois in January of 2015. His children and various community members were frequent visitors, which he appreciated and cherished. He especially enjoyed being taken into town for coffee and a piece of pie at his favorite cafe, in spite of having increasing difficulty in swallowing. He bore with his suffering with the assistance of staff member Sr. Michael, with whom he developed a deep spiritual bond.
Br. Anthony took great delight in researching and chronicling the genealogy of both sides of the family, a task which he continued even as his health began to fail. He left his children several volumes of family history, as well as collections of his own spiritual reflections. He even prepared one such collection in which he commented on the prayers and readings which he had selected for his funeral.
He was preceded in death by his parents, three brothers and two sisters, and his son-in-law Rick Kunz. He is survived by his children Jan Kunz, Maureen (Michael) Wallace, Sandy (Dennis) Pajewski, Kathy (David) Griffin, Kevin (Debra) Shaughnessy, Marie (Todd) Harrington, Paul (Molly)Shaughnessy, Karen (Jeff) Garrison, Dan (Sara) Shaughnessy, and Amy (Brian) Fontenot. He had thirty-one grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.
Memorial gifts may be directed to Saint Bede.