Father Paul Beichner, professor emeritus of English, dies

by Michael O. Garvey

Word has been received of the death of Rev. Paul E. Beichner, C.S.C., professor emeritus of English at the University of Notre Dame. Father Beichner, who died Sunday (Sept. 21) in Holy Cross House, was 91 years old. A native of Franklin, Pa., he entered Holy Cross Seminary at Notre Dame in 1928 as a junior in high school. Ordained a priest in 1939, he taught at Holy Cross seminary and served as assistant prefect of religion at Notre Dame while studying for a master’s degree in English, which he received in 1941. In 1944 he received a doctoral degree in English and medieval literature from Yale University, and he joined the Notre Dame faculty the following year.p. Father Beichner’s tenure at Notre Dame was extensive and variegated. In addition to assisting as a priest in area parishes, he taught English and served as assistant chair of the English department, assistant dean of the College of Arts and Letters, director of the Summer Session, assistant to the vice president for academic affairs, member of the Medieval Institute, and dean of the Graduate School. He contributed articles to a variety of scholarly journals and was the author of “Once Upon a Parable: Fables for the Present.” He also was an artist whose linoleum cuts of pastoral and wildlife scenes and portraits of fellow members of his religious community hang on the walls of Corby Hall and in other campus residences of the Congregation of Holy Cross.p. On his retirement in 1978, responding to the florid praise of an affectionate colleague, Father Beichner wrote, “I have done nothing more than become a senior citizen; for that the Lord is responsible, and I am thankful he has tolerated me. I may have lived somewhat like a hippopotamus, mostly below the surface of the water, but with eyes and ears and nose above?a calm and undisturbed life. Job waxed poetic about the hippo, but in his account it is hard to tell what is natural history and what is fable. I think that a hippo keeps his mouth shut and lies low most of the time, and so should I.”p. In 1997 the community center in University Village, a housing complex for Notre Dame’s married students and their families, was named in Father Beichner’s honor.p. A wake service will be held at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday (Sept. 24) in the chapel of Moreau Seminary, and a funeral Mass will be celebrated at 4 p.m. Thursday (Sept. 25) in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

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