Obituary: Benedictine Father Michael Naughton

Benedictine Father Michael Edward Naughton, 84, died Sept. 9 at the Saint Cloud Hospital, St. Cloud. The monks, relatives and friends will receive the body at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 13. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 14, in the Saint John’s Abbey and University Church, Collegeville, with internment in the abbey cemetery. The service will be livestreamed at

He was born May 3, 1939, in Marshalltown, Iowa, to Edward Joseph and Mildred (Moyer) Naughton and was especially fond of his brother, Donovan (1949-2007), who was diagnosed with Down syndrome. He attended Saint Mary’s Parochial School and Saint Mary’s High School in Marshalltown, graduating as class valedictorian and president in 1957.

Father Michael began his first year in the priesthood program in Anselm Hall at Saint John’s University, Collegeville, in 1957. In July 1959, he entered the novitiate, receiving the religious name of Austin (returned to Michael following Vatican Council II). He made his first profession as a Benedictine monk on July 11, 1960, and final solemn profession in 1963. Continuing his undergraduate studies, he graduated in 1962 from Saint John’s University with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. Priesthood studies followed culminating with ordination on June 4, 1966, at St. Mary’s Cathedral, St. Cloud, and receiving a Master of Divinity degree.

After ordination, Father Michael was assigned as an associate pastor in the parishes of St. Bernard in St. Paul, St. Boniface in Hastings and St. Joseph, St. Joseph. Afterward, he was the executive director of the summer Institute for Mental Health at Collegeville. Later he spent a year doing clinical pastoral studies at the Institute for Religion and Human Development in Houston, Texas, and returned to direct the pastoral education program in the School of Theology and as a faculty resident in the seminary. Continuing his pastoral studies at Kansas State University, Father Michael was awarded a master’s degree in counseling in 1976. During 1980-1981 Father Michael was appointed university chaplain of Saint John’s.

In August 1981, he was sent to Saint Augustine’s Monastery in the Bahamas to assist and reorganize the community there. Returning to Saint John’s in 1984, Father Michael resumed teaching and was appointed an editor at the Liturgical Press. He also served on the chaplain team for Saint Benedict’s Monastery in Saint Joseph.

Father Michael was appointed the director of the Liturgical Press in July 1988. In 1998, Michael accepted for the Liturgical Press the Jerome Award by the Catholic Library Association for outstanding contribution to excellence in scholarship. Upon his retirement from the Liturgical Press in 2001, he was recognized by the board of directors of the Catholic Book Publishing Association bestowing on him a Lifetime Achievement Award for his progressive leadership for the Church.

After leaving the Liturgical Press, Father Michael immersed himself in German and Italian for a year and then was assigned to a variety of positions: administrator, Mary, Mother of the Church Abbey in Richmond, Virginia; prior for the community at Sant’ Anselmo Abbey in Rome and procurator for the American Cassinese Congregation. After returning to Minnesota, he became pastor of Seven Dolors, Albany, and St. Anthony, St. Anthony.

Having learned to play the pipe organ while in high school, Father Michael was active in the music program of the abbey. Over the years he sang in the monastery schola, served as music director, liturgy director and choirmaster, as well as organist for the community from 1960-2014.

Father Michael is survived by cousins and confreres of Saint John’s Abbey.


Author: The Central Minnesota Catholic

The Central Minnesota Catholic is the magazine for the Diocese of St. Cloud.

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