Novecosky celebrates 50th anniversary
By Paul Paproski, OSB
MUENSTER, Sask. — When Rev. Rudolph Novecosky, OSB, celebrated his first mass at his home parish of St. Scholastica, Burr, in June 1962, he asked everyone to pray for him as he began his priesthood. The prayers of his family, friends and parishioners have sustained him during the past 50 years in his vocation as a priest and Benedictine monk.
Appreciation for his work was shown at a 50th anniversary celebration
June 3 at his former parish of St. Ann’s in Annaheim, Sask. More
than 275 people gathered for mass and a program in his honour. A family
gathering was held at St. Peter’s Abbey later that day.
Growing up in Burr, Sask., Novecosky attended a one-room school until
Grade 9 and then St. Peter’s High School for Grades 10 to 12. He took one
year of liberal arts at St. Peter’s College and then decided to join
the Benedictines. The next six years were spent in the seminary at St.
John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minn.
Novecosky entered St. Peter’s Abbey in 1955, two years before
the abbey began a large building campaign. He learned a lot about construction,
helping to build St. Scholastica convent, now a residence, in 1957;
the college annex (the present library) in 1958; Severin Hall (student
residence) and gymnasium in 1959, the monastery building in 1962 and
arena in 1965.
Following ordination in June 1962, Novecosky was appointed assistant to Rev. John Hable of Assumption Parish at Marysburg, and St. Bernard and Holy Trinity at Pilger. He was appointed prefect of St. Peter’s High School and college from 1963 to 1972. He worked as a high school teacher, giving instruction in geometry, algebra, trigonometry, Latin, agriculture, geology and appreciation of English literature. He also served as sports director at St. Peter’s High School, coaching hockey, volleyball, basketball and track and field.
Parish work has always been a joy for Novecosky who, in 1972, began assisting Rev. Werner Renneberg, OSB, in the parishes at St. Gregor and Muenster. Novecosky became pastor of St. Gregory Parish in St. Gregor in 1979 and then St. Ann’s at Annaheim in 1987. He served as prior and sub-prior at St. Peter’s Abbey, novice master and work co-ordinator for the novices and juniors. Between 1987 and 2008 he was the pastor for the two parishes at either Annaheim and St. Gregor, or Annaheim and Naicam, retiring in 2008 to St. Peter’s Abbey. Since moving to the abbey Novecosky has served as prior, novice master/formation director and treasurer of St. Peter’s Abbey.
“I have always liked parish work,” he remarked. “The people have always been supportive, very affirming.”
Novecosky suffered a life-changing moment in November 1977 when he was injured in the back with a shotgun while hunting. He was with his brother Tony, Rev. Florian Renneberg, OSB, and Rev. Edward Benning, OSB, at the time. They had spotted ducks on a stubble field about 10 miles north of Carmel. Novecosky placed decoys in a slough and quickly left when he saw the ducks returning. He ran with his loaded shotgun, forgetting that he had failed to put on the safety catch. As he ran his little finger hit the trigger and the gun went off and shot in the air. The gun recoiled out of his hand and fell behind him, going off a second time, shooting him in the back.
During his convalescence in Royal University Hospital, Novecosky experienced the powerful awareness of God’s presence. After six and one half months he was well enough to return to the abbey. He went through long periods of pain and depression. Surgery in 1987 relieved him of most of his pain. He is able to walk short distances using crutches, which enabled him to return to parish work a year and a half after leaving the hospital. It is a humbling experience to be dependent on others, he said.