Father Hugh Assenmacher, OSB, who celebrated 60 years as a priest in May, died July 24 from complications after a fall. He was 85.
He was born Gerald Anthony Assenmacher Feb. 16, 1933, in Billings, Mo. He was taught by Benedictine sisters from St. Scholastica Monastery in Fort Smith, who “talked up” Subiaco Academy when discussing vocations, according to a 2008 Arkansas Catholic article. He graduated from Subiaco Academy, a minor seminary at the time, in 1951 and entered Subiaco Abbey as a novice in 1952. He took the name Hugh along with first vows in September 1953.
Father Assenmacher completed priestly studies at Subiaco, ordained May 15, 1958, by Little Rock Bishop Albert Fletcher.
He earned a degree in organ and general music from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and later a master’s degree in history from St. Louis University. Father Assenmacher taught religion, Latin, music, sociology and history at the academy. He also served in the abbey in several roles including organist for the monastery, novice master, Coury House retreat master, subprior, lawn keeper and archivist. He also served a year as a missionary at the Santa Familia Monastery in Belize.
In 2014, he was appointed sacramental minister at St. Mary Church in Altus, the first time in his ministry to serve in a parish, according to his July 21 jubilee article in Arkansas Catholic. He opened the church every morning at 6:30 a.m. to pray. He befriended many parishioners saying, “I think all pastors feel this way — they see the goodness in people. They are very faithful Catholics, and this is encouraging.”
Father Assenmacher was set to retire from the parish in August. He sustained a serious head injury July 12 and was admitted to a Fayetteville hospital, according to the abbey.
He is survived by two brothers, H.E. Assenmacher of Springfield, Mo., and Thomas Assenmacher of Kinsale, Va.
A vigil was held July 26 and a Mass of Christian Burial on July 27.
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