Our Brother John Berchmans died on Tuesday, December 3, 2013 after a long illness. Born in 1927 in New York City he entered the monastery of Our Lady of the Valley, Cumberland, R.I., in 1948, moving with the monastic community to St. Joseph's Abbey in Spencer after a disastrous fire in 1950 destroyed the Rhode Island monastery. Eight years later he left monastic life, but he re-entered the monastery in 1981, finally professing vows in 1983.
Over the span of years Brother Berchmans served in many capacities. He produced mint jelly for sale at the monastery’s Porter's Lodge and so is credited with beginning our Trappist Preserves industry. He was also a designer and tailor of liturgical vestments at The Holy Rood Guild, porter at the Abbey's gift shop, the Abbot's Secretary, distributor of Cistercian Studies Quarterly, a gardener and community cook, as well as taking a stint as cook at the order's headquarters in Rome.
We remember Brother John Berchmans' goodness, humor and wonderful creative feistiness with joy and gratitude. May he rest in God's eternal peace.