Fr. Andrew Britz, former editor of The Prairie Messenger

Fr. Andrew Britz, editor of The Prairie Messenger, dies aged 71

By  Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Canadian Catholic News
  • February 22, 2012

SASKATOON - Fr. Andrew Britz, OSB, longtime editor of The Prairie Messenger, died Feb. 14 at the age of 71 years.

The Benedictine monk and priest, who edited The Prairie Messenger from 1983 to 2004, was known for his strong editorial voice in the Catholic weekly newspaper published by St. Peter’s Abbey in Muenster, Sask.

Fr. Britz died suddenly of a massive heart attack at St. Paul’s Hospital, only a few weeks after moving into Samaritan Place, a new Catholic advanced care home in Saskatoon. He suffered from Parkinson’s disease for some 10 years, and was increasingly limited in mobility, confined to a wheelchair for the last two years of his life.

Born Murray Britz in Lake Lenore, Sask., March 12, 1940, he attended St. Peter’s College and joined the monastic community of St. Peter’s Abbey in 1959, taking the name Andrew. He made his profession of vows as a Benedictine monk on July 11, 1960. Fr. Britz studied philosophy and theology at St. John’s Abbey, Collegeville, Minn., and was ordained a priest June 10, 1966. Later he pursued doctoral studies in Toronto. Fr. Britz served as chaplain, teacher and principal of St. Peter’s College until it closed in 1972. He also served as pastor in Humboldt, St. Benedict, Englefeld, Naicam, Annaheim and Lake Lenore.

Reflecting on his time as editor of The Prairie Messenger, Fr. Britz often described how “Benedictine spirituality is terrific for newspaper work: We are to pray with our eyes open.” During his 21 years as editor of The Prairie Messenger, he wrote some 2,000 editorials on all aspects of life and faith, with some 180 recently collected in Truth to Power, a book published to raise funds for the newspaper he loved.

In notes for the book, Joan Chittister, OSB, said of Britz: “He gave us material we could trust, with integrity we could swear by
. . .  what’s more, it came wrapped in sharp argument and fair dealing — tasting of justice, sounding like the Gospels and rooted in faith.” In his introduction, Dennis Gruending wrote: “He was fearless in speaking truth to the powerful — to popes and politicians, capitalists and clerics.”

Fr. Britz was fascinated by the parables and paradoxes that fill the Gospels and the teachings of Jesus Christ, said Abbot Peter Novecosky in his homily at Fr. Britz’s funeral Feb. 17 in Humboldt.

“Fr. Andrew would say the Scripture reminds us, through parables and paradoxes, that there is always something more: something more than we can see. There is always a bigger picture where God is in charge,” said Novecosky.

In a reflection in 2010 on the 50th anniversary of his profession as a Benedictine monk, Fr. Britz said his greatest blessing in life had been “the call to live my baptismal vocation in this monastic setting.”

(The Prairie Messenger)

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