Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Regional Report

the Inland Register

(From the July 19, 2012 edition of the Inland Register)

Archdiocese of Portland

ST. BENEDICT – After turning 90 and receiving the Librarian Emeritus Award from Mount Angel Abbey Library this spring, Benedictine Oblate Josef Sprug still has no plan to retire.

“I’ll work until I can’t work anymore,” Sprug said. He has served as volunteer librarian at the abbey library for almost 25 years.

A few months before moving to Mount Angel in 1988, Sprug was diagnosed with prostate cancer and was bluntly told that he had five years to live. Another doctor told him that the first doctor should have said that, statistically, he had five years to live, but that he could die of old age before he died of this cancer.

True enough, almost 25 years later, Sprug, soft spoken and unassuming, is in fairly good health and still works 35 hours a week at the abbey library, not counting the time he spends with take-home work reading book reviews and suggesting titles to add to the collection.

Sprug’s career at the abbey library came after he retired from a prodigious career as librarian, author, indexer and lecturer in various educational and government institutions across the nation, including the Catholic University of America, U.S. Air Force Academy and St. Edward’s University in Texas. He holds degrees from St. Meinrad College and Catholic University of America.

Over the years, he has made indexes for more than 600 books, including the Index to G.K. Chesterton (CUA Press, 1966) and the Index to the Twentieth Century Encyclopedia of Catholicism (Hawthorn Books, 1971).

To date, Sprug has catalogued more than 24,000 books at the abbey library, starting in 1988 with the 20,000-volume multi-lingual collection of the philosopher Richard McKeon.

After spending years selecting books to add to the library collection, Sprug started cataloguing the pre-1800 rare books, about 4,000 volumes, which had never been catalogued since they were purchased in the 1930s. The books range from miniature prayer books to oversized illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages.

“He has spent untold hours with countless people who come from all over the globe to see the rare books,” said Victoria Ertelt, administrator of Mount Angel Abbey Library. “Josef’s dedication to, and love of, the library has made the library experience richer for us all.”

“Working with the old books here has been the best years of my life,” Sprug said. “Making rare books known and available to people is something I love to do.”

Benedictine Father Hugh Feiss, former abbey library director, said that sharing the rare books with the public is Sprug’s most valuable contribution to the library.

Sprug’s personal watchword is taken from a rare book in the library vault, Epitome Historarium Libri X (“A Survey of History in ten parts”) by Orazio Torsellino (1545-1599). Here are the last words of the book, translated from Latin, which the editor added after the last paragraph: “Truly while this author was here writing death took him by surprise.”

“That’s one reason I stay on my desk so much,” Sprug says in good humor. “It would be a good place to die.”

PORTLAND – Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers, who has served as University of Portland’s director of public safety since 2001, will step down to focus full-time on ministry as a Catholic evangelist and speaker.

In 2008 Deacon Burke-Sivers won the highest employee honor awarded by UP.

“He transformed the public safety office into one that ensured the safety of the entire campus community while also inserting the university’s mission of teaching and learning, faith and formation, and service and leadership into everything his staff did,” said Holy Cross Father Gerard Olinger, vice president for student affairs.

Deacon Burke-Sivers was ordained to the diaconate in 2002. He is a popular speaker and Catholic TV personality, as well as a writer and researcher.

He served on the State of Oregon Board of Public Safety Standards and Training from 2002-2009 after being appointed by Governor Ted Kulongoski.

— Catholic Sentinel (Archdiocese of Portland)

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