Mount Michael Abbot Theodore Wolff served in numerous ways
June 10, 2023
Abbot Theodore Wolff led the monks at Mount Michael Benedictine Abbey in Elkhorn from 1989 to 2007.
But before and after those years, he served in many other ways during his nearly 75 years of religious life: as a student, priest, business manager, director of vocations, oblate director, novice master, laybrother director, parish pastor, instructor, camp leader, bus driver, calligrapher and spiritual adviser.
For a Benedictine with a vow of stability to one home, he at least figuratively covered a lot of ground.
Abbot Theodore died June 7 at New Cassel Retirement Center in Omaha after a brief time in hospice. He was 94.
A vigil service was to be held June 11 at 7 p.m. in the David “D.J.” Sokol Memorial Chapel on the Mount Michael campus, 22520 Mount Michael Road.
A Mass of Christian burial was scheduled for 10 a.m. on June 12 at St. Vincent de Paul Church, 14330 Eagle Run Drive in Omaha.
Burial will be at the abbey’s cemetery.
“Abbot Theodore grew up in the shadows of Omaha’s Saint Cecilia Cathedral,” one of 10 children born to Joseph and Loretto (Walsh) Wolf Sr., according to a written tribute.
Abbot Theodore entered the novitiate of Immaculate Conception Abbey in Conception, Missouri, in 1948. He professed his first vows in 1949 and made his solemn perpetual vows three years later.
He was ordained a priest in 1954 and served numerous roles at the Missouri abbey, including assistant business manager, director of vocations, oblate director, assistant novice master of monks destined for the priesthood, laybrother director and as pastor of parishes in Springfield and Ravenwood, Missouri.
Fifteen years after his entry into religious life, Abbot Theodore was assigned to Mount Michael and, with other monks, transferred his vow of stability from Conception to the new abbey, according to the written tribute.
He became dean and teacher at the former St. John Vianney Seminary, a precursor to Mount Michael Benedictine School. Over the years, he taught art, theology, Latin and Spanish.
He also served as the abbey’s vocations director, helped at summer camps with arts and crafts, horse riding and as a bus driver. He also taught theology at Boys Town for a year.
In 1970 he was appointed prior at Mount Michael, continuing teaching and serving as novice master and business manager.
In 1989 he was elected as the second abbot at Mount Michael.
In retirement, Abbot Theodore found more time for calligraphy. Throughout the abbey and school, examples of his work can be found in ink, wood and ceramics. He also collaborated on greeting cards and prints.
He was preceded in death by his parents and family members Vincent “Jerry” Wolff, Joseph Wolff Jr., Dominican Sister Mary Wolf, Theresa Wolff, Elaine Filkins, Margaret Schonebaum, Dominican Sister Loretto Wolff, John Wolff and Robert Wolff.
Survivors include the abbey community; brother F. Patrick (Silvia) Wolff; sisters-in-law Delores Wolff and Joyce Wolff; as well as many nieces, nephews, extended family members and friends.
Memorials were directed to Mount Michael Abbey.