Father John R. Erickson, O.S.B., a monk of Saint Vincent Archabbey, died Tuesday, December 26, 2006. He was born in Erie on September 25, 1925, a son of the late John and Gertrude (Schwab) Erickson. He was predeceased by one sister, Mrs. Mary Ann Dishinger of West Hempstead, N.Y. He is survived by his sister, Gertrude Erickson of Greensburg.
He attended St. Mary Parochial School and Erie Cathedral Preparatory School, both of which are in Erie. He is a 1943 graduate of Saint Vincent Preparatory School, and received a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy from Saint Vincent College in 1948. His priesthood studies were at Saint Vincent Seminary, where he received a master of arts degree in theology in 1950. He undertook graduate studies at Fordham University (1965), Seattle University (1966), Columbia University (1969-1970), and Biblical Archeology at Oxford, England (1990 and 1991).
He entered the Benedictine monastic community of Saint Vincent Archabbey in 1944. He made simple profession of vows on July 2, 1945, and solemn profession of vows on July 11, 1948. He was ordained a priest in Saint Vincent Archabbey Basilica by the late John Deardon, Bishop of Pittsburgh, on June 11, 1950.
His pastoral experience included serving as assistant pastor at Saint Joseph Church, Covington Kentucky (1950-1952), Saint Mary Church, St. Marys (1954-1961), and Fourteen Holy Martyrs Church, Baltimore, Maryland (1961-1964); associate pastor and hospital chaplain at Sacred Heart Church, Jeannette (1968); administrator of Sacred Heart Church, Youngstown (1978); and pastor of Saint Boniface Church, Chestnut Ridge (1971-1975), and Saint Bede Church, Bovard (1980-1981). Father John also served on the Marriage Tribunal for the Erie Diocese (1955-1961), and was retreat master for summer retreats (1981) at Saint Vincent.
At Saint Vincent, he was a prefect in the Preparatory School (1945-1950), food service director (1952-1954), manager of Saint Vincent College Bookstore (1964-1967), seminary prefect (1964-1965), college prefect (1965-1967), curator of the Saint Vincent Museum (1982-1983), and was caretaker of the old Museum collections from 1984 until his retirement. His career as an educator included serving as professor of religious studies at Saint Vincent College (1964-1967), visiting professor at San Beda College in the Philippines (1967-1968), and professor at Saint Vincent College in anthropology (1970-1998) and geology (1987-1998). He was founder of the anthropology major and minor programs at Saint Vincent, and initiated summer excavation projects for students in Israel. Father John was a lecturer at schools and churches, and an invitational pianist for social and cultural events. He also led numerous summer study tours and conducted summer courses in the Far East, Southeast Asia and Oceania.
His memberships included the American Anthropological Association, Society for Scientific Study of Religion, Association for Asian Studies, American Association of Physical Anthropology, New York Academy of Science, and the Biblical Archeology Society in the U.S.A. and Oxford, England.
The body of Father John will be received in the Elizabeth Roderick Center at 2 p.m. Friday, December 29. Viewing will be held from 2-5 p.m. Friday in the parlor of the Elizabeth Roderick Center. The body will be transferred to the Basilica for the Vigil Service at 7:15 p.m. on Friday. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated by Archabbot Douglas R. Nowicki, O.S.B., at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, December 30 in the Archabbey Basilica, followed by interment at Saint Vincent Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Benedictine Health and Welfare Fund at Saint Vincent Archabbey, 300 Fraser Purchase Road, Latrobe, PA 15650.