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Father Hilary Filiatreau still serves at age 87

Pastor has served six parishes in Subiaco deanery since 1953

Published: July 18, 2009   
Father Hilary Filiatreau, OSB

ALTUS -- Father Hilary Filiatreau, OSB, has been the pastor of St. Mary Church in Altus for nearly 20 years.

At age 87, he is still serving the Subiaco Abbey area and marking his 60th anniversary as a priest.

He was born April 21, 1922, to Dr. and Mrs. Raymond Filiatreau in Mechanicsburg, Ind. He was named James Edward. He attended first to 10th grades at St. Joseph School in Elwood, Ind. His junior and senior years of high school were spent at St. Meinrad Minor Seminary in Indiana, where he graduated with the class of 1943.

From 1943-1945 he attended Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa. It was there that he received a package from a friend, which was partially wrapped in a copy of the jubilee issue of Subiaco Abbey's Abbey Message, dated March 1941. The paper aroused his interest, which resulted in his coming to Subiaco Abbey on Aug. 16, 1943.

James Filiatreau professed his vows as a monk of Subiaco Abbey on Sept. 21, 1943, receiving the name Hilary. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 24, 1949, at Subiaco Abbey by Bishop Albert L. Fletcher.

Father Filiatreau's friendly disposition and ready wit won the affection of his fellow clerics. Following ordination, he was assigned as chaplain at Subiaco Academy from 1950-1955. During this time he also began a lifelong pastoral ministry in the Subiaco deanery where he served in six Arkansas parishes.

Known as "an ambassador of the joy of the Lord," Father Filiatreau worked in various apostolates at the abbey, including director of oblates and assistant director of oblates and assistant director of hospitality.

From 1953-1959, and again from 1989-1990, he was pastor of St. Benedict Parish in Subiaco. From 1959-1975 he was pastor of two parishes, St. Ignatius and Sts. Peter and Paul in Scranton and Morrison Bluff, respectively. A third parish, St. Meinrad in Prairie View, was assigned to his pastorate from 1965-1975.

From 1975-1984 he was assigned as pastor of St. Boniface Parish in Fort Smith. Father Filiatreau was then recalled to the abbey to become guestmaster, director of retreats and manager of Coury House. He served in this capacity from 1984-1990.

In 1990 he became pastor of St. Mary Church in Altus when the congregation undertook a massive renovation project restoring the church's interior to its beauty of the early 1900s. From its priceless murals to its hand-done woodwork, the renovated church bespeaks a work of art created for the greater honor and glory of God and edification of the faithful.

He celebrated his golden jubilee of priesthood in 1999, and his diamond jubilee of monastic profession in 2004.

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