Veterans honored at St. Bernard

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Standing, left to right, are Headmaster Fr. Joel Martin, OSB; Command Sargent John Gissell; Petty Officer 2nd Class Br. Augustine Munkachy; Sgt. Bill Ellis; Lance Corporal Pat Brickman; Corporal Thomas Kielen; Corporal Henry Arndt; Staff Sgt. Kenny Culpepper; Petty Officer 1st Class Larry Walker; School Chaplain Fr. Linus Klucsarits; and SBP CEO Jim Miller.

CULLMAN, Ala. – St. Bernard Prep and its monastic community honored veterans in a special Veterans Day Service in the Abbey Church. 

Student Council President Audrey Gil read a scripture passage, then the St. Bernard concert band played a medley of patriotic music. 

Fr. Linus Klucsarits, OSB led the assembly in honoring a group of veterans. Four of its members are currently monks at St. Bernard.  Col Fr. Patrick Egan, parish priest of Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Cullman since 2009, served in the United States Army.  Sgt. Br. Michael Gregerson was honored for serving in the United State Air Force. Likewise, Specialist Br. Romanus Davit and Petty Officer 2nd Class Br. Augustine Munkachy were both recognized for serving in the United States Army and the United States Navy, respectively.  

Several longtime friends of the monastery were also honored. Veterans of the United States Marines included Sgt. Bill Ellis, Lance Corporal Pat Brickman, Corporal Thomas Kielen and Corporal Henry Arndt. Staff Sgt. Kenny Culpepper and Command Sgt. John Gissell served in the United States Army.  Petty Officer 1st Class Larry Walker, a veteran of the United States Navy, was also present for the ceremony. 

Fr. Linus related a story about a veteran family member.  “I remember introducing my brother to someone and referred to him as a former Marine – and was quickly corrected that a Marine is always a Marine.” 

He further recalled a memory of his dad.  “My dad died of dementia, and It wasn’t until he was diagnosed with dementia that we learned of benefits available to WWII vets.  However, we were unsure of the timeline.  After research we found that he took the oath two months before the deadline and was qualified. 

“As we spoke to the representative, I made the comment that he barely made the cut by only two months. He  stared me down and said, ‘He took the oath; he served.’” 

He concluded by thanking veterans and sharing this quote: “To those who served, freedom has a taste that the protected will never understand.” 

Following the service, the St. Bernard choir sang as the procession headed to the school for the raising of the flag ceremony.