Father Noel H. Rothrauff, O.S.B., a monk of Saint Vincent Archabbey for 73 years, died on Tuesday, December 15, 2020, just two weeks shy of his 95th birthday. A native of Wilkinsburg, he was born on December 31, 1925 to the late Harry W. Rothrauff, Jr., and the late Mary Jane (Reagan) Rothrauff. Father Noel had a brother, Father Leo P. Rothrauff, O.S.B., who was also a monk of Saint Vincent Archabbey and who died on September 19, 2010. His sister, Mrs. Jane R. Downing, and brother-in-law, John Downing, are deceased. Surviving are two nieces, a nephew and four grand-nieces.
Father Noel attended Saint Colman Elementary School, in Turtle Creek, and Central Catholic High School, in Pittsburgh. He then transferred to the Saint Vincent Scholasticate, graduating in 1945. He went on to study at Saint Vincent College, while pursuing his monastic vocation. He made simple profession of monastic vows on July 2, 1947, before Archabbot Alfred Koch, O.S.B., and solemn profession of vows on July 11, 1950, before Archabbot Denis Strittmatter, O.S.B., at Saint Vincent Archabbey Basilica.
Father Noel served in many capacities at Saint Vincent and in many parishes. However, his passion became the foreign missions of Saint Vincent Archabbey, following his assignment in 1982 to serve as the foreign mission director. The Archabbey operates São Bento Priory in Vinhedo, São Paulo, Brazil, as well as Wimmer Priory in Taipei, Taiwan. He served at both missions in various capacities throughout the years, often joining his brother in Vinhedo where Father Leo served for 36 years.
Following his first vows in 1947, Father Noel worked as assistant director of maintenance for six years, then taught at Saint Vincent Preparatory School from 1953 to 1954.
On May 22, 1954, Father Noel was ordained a priest by Bishop Hugh Lamb at the Saint Vincent Archabbey Basilica. After his ordination, Father Noel served in Covington, Kentucky, as assistant pastor of Saint Joseph Parish, and also taught religion at La Salette Academy from 1954 to 1959. He was moderator of the C.Y.O. High School Athletic Program for Kenton County, Kentucky, from1957 to 1959.
From 1959 to 1961, Father Noel was the assistant pastor of Queen of the World Parish while teaching religion at Central High School, in St. Marys.
Father Noel was then assigned to serve at Bishop Carroll High School, in Ebensburg. From 1961 through 1980, he taught religion, English, algebra, and bookkeeping, and served as moderator of the Camera Club. Father Noel was a professional photographer who, while at Bishop Carroll High School, served as the yearbook photographer. For several years, Father Noel was a member of the Triangle Professional Photographer’s Association.
Father Noel was also assistant pastor of Saint Benedict Parish, Carrolltown (1961-1972); administrator of Immaculate Conception Church, New Germany (1972-1973); pastor of Saint Gertrude Church, Vandergrift (1973-1974); and pastor of Saint Nicholas Church, Nicktown (1974-1980).
In 1980, Father Noel was appointed pastor of Saint Benedict Parish in Canton, Ohio, and then served at Saint Benedict Parish in Baltimore. He began service as foreign mission director of the Archabbey in 1982, and following his return, served as moderator of the Saint Vincent Women’s Auxiliary from 1982 through 2007. Some of his other roles at Saint Vincent College and Seminary included articulation and institutional research specialist (1982-1983); Finance Committee member (1983-1984); personnel director (1984-1986); Post Office manager (1983-1992); Post Office staff member (1992-2000).
His administrative duties, however, never prevented him from continuing to dedicate his life to his pastoral and missionary activities. He was temporary administrator at Holy Trinity and Saint Casimir Parishes in East Vandergrift, (1983-1984); confessor for the Sisters of Charity of the Saint Joseph Community, at Seton Hill University, in Greensburg (1985-1994); chaplain of Olympia Place in Wimmerton, Latrobe, and Mountain View Nursing Center in Greensburg, (1986-1994).
After participating in the Theology Renewal Program at Sant’ Anselmo College, in Rome (1989), Father Noel was asked to serve as administrative assistant at São Bento Monastery in Vinhedo. Later he served as Chaplain pro-tempore for the Benedictine sisters at Tanshui, Taiwan, in residence at Wimmer Priory, assisting the prior (1992-1993).
Upon his return from Taiwan, in 1994, Father Noel received a master of divinity degree from Saint Vincent Seminary. In 1994, he was appointed parochial vicar of Queen of the World Parish, in St. Marys, and from 1995-96 he served as administrator of Saint Benedict Parish, in Marguerite.
The body of Father Noel will be received at 2 p.m. Thursday, December 17, 2020, in the Elizabeth J. Roderick Center of Saint Vincent Archabbey, when viewing will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. A vigil service will be held at the Basilica at 7:15 p.m. that evening. The vigil service will be livestreamed at https://vimeo.com/491295603. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. Friday, December 18, 2020, by Archabbot Martin de Porres Bartel, O.S.B., in the Archabbey Basilica. The funeral service will be livestreamed at https://vimeo.com/491297178. Interment will follow in the Mary, Mother of Wisdom Mausoleum Chapel 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, Pennsylvania 15650.