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Former St. Scholastica chaplain died after a fall at Subiaco

Published: December 4, 2020   

Father David McKillin, OSB, a monk for 60 years and priest for 44, died Nov. 24 after complications from a fall in his room at Subiaco Abbey two weeks before his death. He was 91.

Robert Henry McKillin was born April 14, 1929, in St. Louis. After graduating high school, he attended St. Louis University. He served in the U.S. military in Korea from 1951-1953. He received a bachelor’s degree from St. Louis University and worked as a supervisor for the National Lead Company. His abbey obituary stated as a child, he had dreams of being a monk, saying, “In the summer evenings after everything was finished and before bedtime, my grandparents and extended family from the neighborhood would gather on the front porch to visit. There I listened to the family elders talk about a distant cousin who became a Trappist monk and whose prayers, according to family tradition, were always answered. The respect and awe in their conversation about him prompted me one evening to announce that when I grew up I would be a monk.”

He entered St. Pius X Monastery in Pevely, Mo., professing his vows on Dec. 8, 1959. In 1974 he studied at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, receiving a master’s degree in theology. He was ordained a priest on May 24, 1976, at Sacred Heart Church in Festus, Mo. For three decades, he served in a variety of positions, including subprior and prior. When St. Pius X Abbey closed, he transferred his vow of stability to Subiaco Abbey in 1990. Father McKillin served as subprior, treasurer, business manager, director of the Abbey Health Center, development director and helped with spiritual direction and retreats. 

In 2001, he celebrated his 25th jubilee as a priest. Following his desire, he was assigned to live as a hermit with a ministry of prayer for six months. He then was chaplain at St. Scholastica Monastery in Fort Smith, serving the sisters from 2002 to 2015. He then returned to Subiaco Abbey because of declining physical health. 

He is survived by one sister, Mary Susan Ealum of St. Louis. A wake was held Nov. 30 and Mass of Christian Burial was Dec. 1 at St. Benedict Church in Subiaco.

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