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Brother Francis was ‘eternal optimist’

Brother Francis Schmitz, OSB, who had many roles as a monk at Mount Michael Benedictine School and Abbey near Elkhorn, died July 25. He was 89.

 A funeral Mass was celebrated July 31 at the David “DJ” Sokol Memorial Chapel on the Mount Michael campus with interment at the Abbey cemetery. 

Brother Francis was among the group of men who made up the first novitiate class of Mount Michael Abbey in 1961. He professed his first vows as a Benedictine monk in 1962 and final vows in 1965.

“His outstanding characteristic is he was an eternal optimist,” said Abbot Michael Liebl. “He used to have a saying that ‘it's darkest before dawn,’ and he applied that often to our athletic teams. But I think he lived by that philosophy in his own life too.”

In addition to never missing monastic prayer or Mass, his loyal support over the years for Mount Michael sporting events was obvious to many. Initially a meat cutter in the school kitchen, Brother Francis later worked extensively as the school’s director of intramural sports, athletic equipment manager and athletic director. He also maintained the grounds and established the former Christmas Tree Farm in the 1980s. 

Brother Francis was preceded in death by his parents, Benedict and Lillian Schmitz; brothers, Percy Stanosheck, Benedict “Dick” Schmitz, Ralph Schmitz and Leonard “Lenny” Schmitz; and sisters, Lucille Apple, Mary Lillian Borin and Edith Bittner. He is survived by the community of Mount Michael Abbey; nieces, nephews and numerous cousins.

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