Brother Andrew Raple, O.S.B., monk of St. Gregory’s Abbey, entered eternal life on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. He was 90 years old and had completed 69 years of monastic profession. He was the senior member of the Abbey.
Br. Andrew was born on Nov. 5, 1930, one of eight children of George and Barbara (Plutz) Raple of Andale, Kansas. He was baptized at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Andale on Nov. 30, 1930. He graduated from Andale High School in 1949 and began studies at St. Gregory’s College later that year. There he discerned his vocation as a Benedictine Brother, consecrating his life to serve God through prayer and manual labor. He entered the novitiate at St. Gregory’s Abbey in 1950, professed first vows as a monk on July 2, 1951, and perpetual vows in 1954.
Br. Andrew served at various times on the Abbey farm and as a bookbinder, beekeeper, butcher and baker. In 1957, Br. Andrew became Shawnee’s first official weatherman, monitoring a weather station sponsored by the Shawnee Chamber of Commerce and installed on the Abbey grounds. He faithfully reported to authorities and news outlets the local daily weather conditions of temperature, wind velocity, precipitation and barometric pressure, until automated equipment was installed in 1994.
Br. Andrew began his long tenure of service in the kitchen at St. Gregory’s in 1951. He later enrolled at Oklahoma State University School of Technical Training, completing a degree in Institutional, Restaurant and Hotel Baking in 1963. Eventually he became manager for the food service program for St. Gregory’s Abbey, High School, College and University, serving until his retirement in 1999. Generations of students at St. Gregory’s looked forward to the fresh loaves of bread and dinner rolls he baked, and many other treats he prepared on special occasions and for students returning late at night from off-campus events. He served as a mentor for many, especially for students who worked under his direction in the cafeteria. In 1999 he received the St. Gregory’s University Legacy Award in recognition for his positive impact on generations of students.
Brother Andrew began working in the Abbey greenhouse in 1968, and became a master cultivator of its many beautiful plants, which he enjoyed sharing with others. A member of the American Orchid Society, he cultivated over 300 varieties of orchids and cared for over 200 rose plants. Each year he provided hundreds of poinsettias and lilies for the Abbey Church and other area churches at Christmas and Easter. He often prepared beautiful arrangements for special events at the Abbey, school and the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art.
Among his other interests were camping, raising whitetail deer rescued by the Oklahoma Wildlife Department, and caring for a variety of other animals. He enjoyed woodworking, making beautiful items as varied as “intarsia” mosaics, jigsaw puzzles for children, and highly intricate wooden crosses, clocks and wall ornaments crafted with a scroll saw.
Br. Andrew died peacefully on Nov. 17, strengthened by the sacraments of the Church, the presence of members of the monastic community, and greetings from many friends and alumni.
Public viewing will be available in The Conference Center at St. Gregory’s Abbey on Saturday, Nov. 21, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and on Sunday, Nov. 22, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Visitors are asked to wear face coverings and to maintain appropriate social distancing. Due to the high risk of COVID-19 infection, the monastery regretfully is able to accommodate visitors only at these times.
Mass of Christian Burial will be at St. Gregory’s Abbey at 2 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 23, with interment following in the Abbey Cemetery. To maintain safety protocols, attendance at the Funeral Mass will be limited to family members and members of the clergy. Live-stream coverage of the funeral Mass will be available at www.facebook.com/Cooper-Funeral-Home.
In lieu of flowers, gifts may be contributed to the Brother Andrew Raple, OSB, Memorial Fund at St. Gregory’s Abbey, 1900 W. MacArthur, Shawnee OK 74804, and online at www.monksok.org.
Posted online on November 20, 2020