“We were seekers, and Fr. Yost recognized that.”
Fr. Charles Yost, SCJ, died last July. A member of the Sacred Heart Community at SHML, he had been retired for many years but continued to be active in ministry until the last months of illness. Often, he celebrated Mass at Good Shepherd Chapel for the lay residents of Sacred Heart at Monastery Lake. That’s where Pat and Tom Brown met him.
“It’s because of him that we are Catholic,” said Pat Brown.
She and her husband, Tom (pictured at the top of the page), moved to SHML shortly after they retired. She was a medical transcriptionist and he had spent over 50 years as a church music director, though not in a Catholic parish. His last assignment was at a Methodist church in suburban Milwaukee. It’s where he spent most Sundays for 27 years until his retirement.
A priority for Tom and Pat following their move to SHML was to find a church. “We were seekers,” said Pat, “and Fr. Yost recognized that.”
They loved the liturgy of the Episcopal Church and considered worshipping at the Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Milwaukee. But it is a long drive from SHML, “and the parking is lousy,” said Tom.
While seeking a church, the Browns began attending Mass at SHML. The commute was easy – just an elevator ride to the first floor. “We enjoyed Fr. Yost’s homilies; it was a good match for us,” said Pat.
Fr. Yost noticed Pat and Tom, and also noticed that they didn’t go to communion. “Why?” he asked.
“We aren’t Catholic,” said Pat.
And thus began a friendship that eventually led to the Browns converting to the Catholic faith. The ceremony took place at Good Shepherd Chapel, the chapel at which Tom now often serves as cantor. His face is familiar to many SCJs since he sometimes helps at province liturgies.
The Browns also befriended several other SCJs, including Fr. Bill Pitcavage, Fr. John Czyzysnki and Fr. Jim Schroeder. Fr. Jim and Tom have a common love of opera, as did Fr. Yost.
Following Fr. Yost’s death, the friends, along with a retired diocesan priest at SHML, Fr. Richard Robinson, created an informal committee to discuss possibilities to honor him. Tom and Pat had become quite interested in the St. John’s Bible, a one-of-a-kind illuminated, handwritten Bible commissioned by the Benedictine Monastery at St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN. The unbound pages were completed in 2011 and are on display in a museum at the university.
“Fr. Yost had such a love for books, this seemed like a wonderful way to honor him,” said Pat.
A seven-volume reproduction of the St. John’s Bible was purchased to be gifted to the Priests of the Sacred Heart and the residents of Sacred Heart at Monastery Lake in memory of Fr. Charles Yost.
A video produced by the BBC about the making of the St. John’s Bible will be shown in the SHML dining room on Saturday, April 21. After that, the books will be on display in the SHML lobby on a newly constructed ambo. The ambo was built by Frs. Byron Haaland, SCJ, and Fr. Jim Schroeder, SCJ.
The ambo was Fr. Byron’s idea. When he learned of the gifting of the books in Fr. Yost’s memory “he said that the books required something special,” said Pat. An artist and craftsman, Fr. Byron decided that he – with the help of Fr. Jim – would create that “something special.”
As of April 21, the St. John’s Bible, one volume at a time, will be available for viewing in the lobby of Sacred Heart at Monastery Lake. A brass locking mechanism is a part of the ambo to ensure the safety of the books.