FATHER DAVID L. WECHTER, OCSO
In Loving Memory of the HSMC Chaplain who served this community for 41 years.
April 23, 1930 - December 4, 2022
Father David L. Wechter, OCSO, 92, returned to the Lord, the second Sunday of Advent, December 4, 2022. He was born April 23, 1930, in Buffalo, NY, to Vincent and Grace (O’Brien) Wechter. While living in New York, he attended St. Mark’s Church and grammar school, Holy Angels Collegiate Institute for 4 years, followed by Canisius College.
Upon seeing a picture of a Benedictine monk in the Catholic Encyclopedia, his desire for monastic life began to resonate in his heart. He felt called specifically to a focused life of prayer, rather than the diocesan priesthood or other forms of religious life. He eventually applied to the Trappist monastery at New Melleray in Iowa and officially entered the community on September 8, 1951. He became a Novice the First Sunday of Advent that year and then made temporary vows December 8, 1953. By the grace of God, his perpetual profession was on December 8, 1956.
As priestly studies were done in the monastery, he eventually was ordained to the priesthood on May 1, 1958. The following year in 1959, he was sent to Rome to study Canon Law at the Gregorian Institute. He completed his studies in 1961 and earned his Licentiate of Canon Law (J.C.L). Then in 1965, Father David served as the temporary superior for Assumption Abbey in Ava, MO, a daughter house of New Melleray Abbey. Two years later, he was elected Abbot of New Melleray and humbly served this position until he retired in 1976. Shortly thereafter, he was appointed chaplain to the nuns at the Trappistine monastery, Our Lady of the Mississippi for the next three years.
As time went on, Father David felt the Lord calling him in a special way. He desired a more solitary way of life, growing stronger as the years carried on. With the Abbot’s permission, he was allowed to pursue this calling. He spent about 7 months with the Camaldolese monks in Ohio and then a few months with a small community in Mississippi. By then, the Lord had finally answered his prayers when a letter from a group of hermit sisters in Wisconsin had reached him. These sisters were looking for a hermit-chaplain and in 1981, he accepted the request to be their chaplain for the Mount Carmel Hermitage which was located in Amery, WI.
He continued his chaplaincy as the community moved its location to Houston, MN. He also served many years as a Spiritual Director for Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary and as a judge on the Tribunal of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester since 1998. Father David remained with the HSMC community until the day he died and will be greatly missed by all the Carmelite sisters. Shortly before he passed, when the sisters asked him if there was anything he needed, his reply was “Heaven.” Father David truly exemplified the heart and soul of a hermit, desiring nothing more than to be with Him, whom he loves. Even until the moment he passed away in solitude, he exemplified the Song of Songs, his favorite book in Scripture. “I will seek him whom my soul loves” (Sng 3:2).