Benedictine Father Simeon James Thole, 85, died July 19 in the retirement center of St. John’s Abbey, Collegeville. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated July 25 at St. John’s Abbey and University Church with interment in St. John’s Cemetery following the service.
James Thole was born April 21, 1935, in Moorhead, Minnesota, the second oldest of four children to Otto and Margaret (Acheson) Thole. He attended St. Joseph’s Parochial School in Moorhead and St. John’s Preparatory School in Collegeville, graduating in 1953. Immediately following graduation, he entered St. John’s University, Collegeville, and in 1955 entered the novitiate of St. John’s Abbey, receiving the religious name of Simeon. He made his first profession as a Benedictine monk in 1956. He continued his education at St. John’s University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and classics in 1958. Priesthood studies followed culminating in ordination to the priesthood in 1962.
He taught English and religion at St. John’s Preparatory School from 1962 to 1978. During the summers, Father Thole took graduate courses at Marquette University, Milwaukee, and earned a master’s degree in English in 1965. In 1977 he spent a sabbatical year in Tucson, Arizona, dedicated mostly to writing. In addition to authoring two books on prayer and parental ministry, he also wrote a novel.
Father Thole served as chaplain to the Sisters of Mount St. Benedict Monastery in Crookston, Minnesota, from 1978 to 1991 as well as being an instructor in English and religion at Mount St. Benedict High School there. Following that, he served for five years as pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish, Collegeville, and later was appointed administrator at St. Leo’s Abbey in St. Leo, Florida. Returning to St. John’s in 2002, Father Thole served as a spiritual director, giving conferences for the Benedictine Day of Prayer, secretary for the Senior Council and celebrated Sunday Mass with the sisters at St. Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph, and St. Paul’s Monastery, St. Paul.
He is survived by his sister, Theresa Barrett, his brother, Benedictine Brother Otto Thole, and the community at St. John’s Abbey.