Benedictine Father Eugene McReynolds taught high school students, helped people overcome addictions
August 10, 2021
Benedictine Father Eugene McReynolds helped change lives – as a priest who offered grace and healing through the sacraments, as an educator, a certified alcohol and drug counselor, a retreat leader and chaplain.
He was tireless in ministry and remained committed to daily monastic life with the Benedictines of Mount Michael Abbey in Elkhorn, according to a written tribute from his community.
Father Eugene died Aug. 5 in his room at the abbey. He had recently turned 79.
A vigil service is set for 7 p.m. Aug. 13 at St. Patrick Church in Elkhorn. A funeral Mass will be held at 1 p.m. Aug. 14 at the church, with burial at Mount Michael Abbey Cemetery.
Born Clinton Andrew McReynolds Jr. in Kansas City, Missouri, Father Eugene’s family moved to Omaha, where he graduated from St. Philip Neri School and the former Sacred Heart High School.
He studied at St. John Vianney Seminary, located where Mount Michael Benedictine School now stands, and at Immaculate Conception Seminary in Conception, Missouri, earning a master’s degree in religious education in 1970. He was ordained that same year.
Father Eugene served as a residential dean at Mount Michael and taught religion, driver’s education and business classes.
In 1974 he earned a master’s degree in business education from the University of Wisconsin in Eau Claire.
“A turning point in Father Eugene’s life occurred in 1985 when he began to address his alcohol addiction,” according to the Mount Michael Benedictines. “His desire for sobriety continued until his death.
“Seeking a fresh start, Father Eugene accepted (the late) Father Val Peter’s invitation in 1986 to minister at Boys Town of Omaha.” There he taught high school religion classes and was a counselor and chaplain. He retired after 32 years of service.
Father Eugene’s sobriety ministry also grew as he led National Serenity retreats for recovering addicts and was chaplain for an Omaha chapter of the Calix Society, a Catholic program that helps recovering addicts of all faiths.
On behalf of Boys Town, he received a Presidential Award for drug prevention and treatment programs.
Father Eugene was preceded in death by his parents, Clinton A. “Mac” and Marie McReynolds; sister, Notre Dame Sister Sally Ann McReynolds; and brother and sister-in-law, Tim and Jan McReynolds. He is survived by his religious community; brother and sister-in-law, Mike and Marilyn McReynolds; nieces; nephews; and extended family.
Memorials can be made to Mount Michael Benedictine Abbey.