Aubert Grieser, OFM
This is a letter Fr. Aubert sent to his father and sister a week before ordination:
Franciscan Fathers Oldenburg, Indiana
June 4, 1952
Dear Dad and Pat,
The work is finished! This morning we each went into the
library where Father Provincial, his advisors, and the
faculty were assembled about a big long table. There was
a big chair reserved for us at one end facing the Provincial
at the other end. Then the professors started asking
questions - each one asked for five minutes. At the end of
that half-hour, the formal, remote preparation for each of
us was finished. Last Saturday the written exams were begun
and were finished yesterday. The material we were responsible
for covered the last four years of work. Since Easter I've
been studying an average of six hours a day and going to class
besides. Last week and on the Sundays I put in about eight
hours a day. Don't ask me how I could stand it. There is but
one explanation- the Grace of Almighty God. It is coming all
the time and I have had proof of the fact. While studying I
was inspired on two occasions to look at some rules for
pastors which ordinarily I would have skipped. When the
examination questions were before me, there they were- the
questions to the two answers I was inspired on the spur of
the moment to look at. It feels like the last interest and
principle on a big debt has been paid for- a debt which I
contracted eleven years ago, and which took me eleven years
to pay off. Now it looks like I have Almighty God's permission
to be ordained. It's a tremendous thought thinking that in
seven days you will have the power to bring Christ himself
down from heaven on the altar, to know that you will have
the power of forgiving sins- to know that you are a mediator
between God and man. Only God could even think of giving such
powers to a mere creature. I'm filled with peace and so very
glad that I quit in the midst of the music affair to go after
a goal so much more noble. Those letters which you kept
sending so consistently were a big help. It is nice knowing
that someone is in back of you and has a real genuine
interest in what you are doing. Your prayers and sacrifices
surely helped to get me through this grind. It is a real
honest to goodness miracle. The Lord surely picked me up
and set me on the straight and narrow path. A vocation is
begun in the home; it is the example of holy parents that
leads their sons to the altar. And my parents are ideal in
this respect. That Mother in heaven has been very close to
me during all this preparation, and I hope that she will
not abandon me in the trials ahead.
The spiritual joys of this affair are supreme, but God
gives his hundred-fold even here on earth. The Fathers
let us get things we will need for our future work. This
letter is being typed with a brand new typewriter that I
wish you could see - a sturdy big Royal with all the
gadgets on it you could desire. I'm thrilled as a kid with
a new toy. And you should see the watch- a white gold Hamilton
- just what I always hoped I might someday have. When I
look at them I have to say, here is what the good Lord has
given to you because you tried to love him. Thank God along
with me for this wonderful way of life.
I want to say the first Low Mass Friday morning. I think
Dad should serve for me. Tell Effie and Florence to be on
hand for it. Then we can have a little reunion around the
breakfast table at home.
Keep those prayers going to heaven so all goes well. The
hardest part of this business has been being away from you.
(Article from the Brown and White, 1977):
"There is no service too great nor labor too painstaking that finds as its motivation the will of God." These are words full of love, coming to us from the heart of Fr. Aubert Grieser. Father has been with us here at the seminary for sixteen years now and has touched the lives of many young men, encouraging them and none the less inspiring them in their growth towards Christian manhood.
Fr. Aubert began his priestly vocation twenty-five years ago on July 12, 1952. In the year following his ordination, Father was stationed in Santa Fe, New Mexico, acting as assistant pastor at the cathedral there, chaplain to the U.S. Department of the Interior's Indian School, and chaplain to the New Mexico School for the Deaf. After his year in New Mexico, Father was transferred to Duns Scotus College in Detroit, assuming the capacity of speech and music director. He remained there until 1960 when he came to the seminary.
The past 16 years have been very active ones for Fr. Aubert and, needless to say, have greatly benefited our community. Father's many services include being the director of speech, music and liturgy, as well as caring for the grounds around the seminary. Father has put a lot of work into making our campus more attractive and has done a really good job. Father starts most of the many flowers beautifying our seminary himself, growing them in his room. This year, however, Father plans to build a greenhouse which should prove very helpful to him. Father has worked on many landscape projects, but perhaps the most significant of these is Mt. Calvary. Sixteen years ago this memorial to Christ's death on the cross was nothing more than a vacant hill rising aimlessly up on the other side of a ravine. With a little inspiration, however, and a lot of hard work, this "Siberia" took on a new form and a new meaning; a cross was planted at its summit. Since that initial inspiration, Father has been working to improve Mt. Calvary a little more each year. Another of Fr. Aubert's many projects includes a bicentennial squirting fountain. This fountain is the only one of its kind in Cincinnati and is modeled after one which particularly impressed him in Vienna, Austria, near the Koncerthause Acadamie Theatre.
Besides being a hard worker, Fr. Aubert is also quite a musician. During his sabbatical of 1973, in which he traveled extensively throughout Europe, Father dutifully made a pilgrimage to the grave of his favorite composer in Vienna, Austria. If a Friar were to speak of favorite possessions, Father might, perhaps, mention his three small stones from the grave of Ludwig Van Beethoven which he thrust into his pocket while no one was looking, succumbing to a moment of temptation only a musician could understand. In the course of his musical studies at Cambridge, England, Fr. Aubert finished a four-movement mass which he calls Missa Nominata "Wa Ma Wa Ta." This mass is often performed by the seminary choir and is generally well received because of its unusual blending of traditional Gregorian melodies and contemporary "pop" music. Father has also composed several other notable pieces including an opera, which, as of yet, has not been performed. Father holds a Master's degree in music from the University of Cincinnati, and is an accomplished clarinet, organ, and piano player.
When Father first came here in 1960, he decided to start a glee club. This had never been tried here before, and his idea was met with some apprehension. Father, however, is not one to be discouraged; and now, sixteen years later, the glee club has become an important instrument in the fostering of vocations and has also won superior ratings in state competitions. One of the most critical tests of Fr. Aubert's glee club came about when he was invited to take the glee club on a weekend concert to his hometown in Metamora, Illinois. There amidst the all observant eyes of his relatives and friends, Father must have surely felt he was "laying it on the line," so to speak. But Father was determined to show them a truly outstanding performance; and with the help of his very competent glee club, he did just that.
When he's not involved in music or gardening, Father also enjoys working on his family tree. Father has traced his ancestry back to the 12th century and plans to compile all of the information he has gathered into a book for publication. While he was in Europe, Father visited the hometown of his ancestors in Boehmenkirch, Germany, where distant relatives of his still farm the same plot of ground on which his ancestors had lived and worked for many generations. Father was quite gratified by the warmth in which they received him and recalls, with fond memory, the perfumed baths they drew for him as a special sign of hospitality during the course of his visit. Father often corresponds with his relatives in Germany and is constantly receiving more information to help him with his studies.
Although there are many ways in which one could characterize Fr. Aubert, the best description would be "a man in love with God," one who is willing to say, "Your will be done," and make it his life. This year Father will celebrate his 25th anniversary in the Priesthood. Undoubtedly, this will be a special time of reflection for him, and a time when he can share with others his gratitude for the good things the Lord has done for him. The years have been good to Fr. Aubert, and he is truly happy to be a Franciscan.
After St. Francis Seminary closed in 1980, Aubert took a trip to the Holy Land. While praying on Mount Sinai, he asked God, "what am I to do with the rest of my life?" God answered him, "go and make beautiful gardens for my greater honor and glory." Aubert's first calling had been the priesthood. His second calling was training future priests in public speaking and singing. All those years he applied and nurtured the hobbies that he greatly enjoyed: music and gardening. Now God had given him a third calling, to use the skills he had been developing to erect testimonials to the beauty of heaven and greatness of almighty God. Aubert was often amazed at the natural wonders of earth (plants, Grand Canyon, etc.) and he commented, "how can heaven possibly be more beautiful than this - - but it is!"
In February 1994, Father Aubert Grieser died from complications of leukemia at St. Clare Retirement Community. He was 73.
In 1998, Mike Niklas ('75) made a pilgrimage to Aubert's home state of Illinois to visit Aubert's sister, Pat. Pat and Bob Otto live near Peoria, Illinois in a beautiful country setting similar to the landscape of St. Francis Seminary: gently rolling hills, a winding river, trees and open fields. They have two sons, Greg and Glen. Mike spent a day with Pat and her family, looking through photo albums, reliving memories, and sharing stories of the great, gentle man. Pat said the highlight of her life was the three weeks she spent with her brother on vacation in Europe (around 1980). They had visited several family members in Germany. Aubert was fluent in German, as he was raised in a bilingual home. After Aubert died, his personal items (records, tapes, photos, and books) were given to Pat for safekeeping. But, in 1998, she was moving to a smaller house where she wouldn't have room for all the boxes. She thought the items should be enjoyed and shared by people who knew and loved Aubert, so she gave everything to Mike Niklas for the Alumni Association, FAA CD projects, and this website. Mike brought most of the items to the 1998 alumni meeting that was held at St. Leonard in Dayton, Ohio. The Glee Club record that's featured on one of the FAA CDs is from Aubert's collection. Mike's only disappointment was that he was not able to find Aubert's reel-to-reel tapes of Glee Club rehearsals. The tapes had very high quality recordings of Transitus and state competition songs. (If any of you out there in cyberspace know where to find these tapes please send email to email@example.com).
Pat, thank you for keeping your brother alive for us in memories and in our hearts.