Monk Profiles: Fr. Peter Weigand
On October 14th, 1941, I was born in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, a small farming community – population 10,000. The city was famous for having the largest sawmills in the United States during the Weyerhaeuser lumber days and for its notable Jacob Leinenkugel’s Beer. I attended Island Street Public School until I entered St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School in the 6th grade. Then after four years at McDonell Catholic High School, I went off to St. Mary’s College in Winona, Minnesota, to study Biology.
In the fall of 1963, I transferred to the University of Wisconsin at Madison where, by chance, I met Bishop William O'Connor on a street corner. He started our conversation by saying, “You look perplexed, would you like to talk?” Once in the rectory, I told him that for years, I had thought of becoming a priest, but I had no Latin whatsoever, and my parents were not supportive of the idea. He asked me how old I was, and I replied that I was 20. “When will you be 21?” he asked. “October,” I replied. At that, he said: “I have just the place for you.”
Soon I was off to the Benedictine abbey at Benet Lake, Wisconsin, where the monks ran a Latin Program for belated vocations. I never knew Benedictines existed, but I instantly felt at home. Once there, I met Fr. Michael Ducey, OSB, a former prior at St. Anselm’s, who taught Theology. That April, Abbot Alban Boultwood, OSB, from St. Anselm’s gave the community retreat at Benet Lake, and after talking to him, he invited me to come to Washington to see what an urban monastery was like. I arrived in 98-degree heat in June of 1964. (At that time, there was no air-conditioning in the older buildings or in the chapel.)
After completing my novitiate, I began my Philosophy studies at Catholic University, followed by Theology. I was ordained in June of 1970. I started teaching Biology in 1968 at the Abbey School, where I had many jobs – full-time teacher; appointed Second Master under Fr. Michael and had that job for 17 years; then in 1992, appointed Headmaster by Abbot Aidan, again I held that job for 17 years; now I am President of the Abbey School.
In addition to my school jobs, I was appointed monastic Grounds Master in 1966, and I was chaplain to St. Gertrude’s School from 1970 until it closed in 1990. After earning a Master’s Degree in Teaching Science (Biology) in 1970, I went on to study Geology at George Washington University, and Native American Studies at Catholic University with additional courses at the Smithsonian. In field work, I had two summers at Chesterfield Inlet in the Canadian Central Arctic living among the Inuit, and one summer with the aborigines in Kalumburu, Australia. I co-founded the National Capitol Cactus and Succulent Society, which has met in our school every 3rd Sunday of the month for more than 45 years.
I celebrated my 50th anniversary of Vows in February of 2016, never having a moment’s doubt that all of this is God’s will.