Saint Joseph community remembers Fr. William John MacCandless, O.S.B.
Father William John MacCandless, O.S.B., a monk of Saint Joseph Abbey, died on Christmas Day at the monastery at Saint Benedict, LA. A native of New Orleans, he was born on 7 July 1930; his father, John William MacCandless, was editor of the archdiocesan newspaper, Catholic Action of the South; his mother was Jane Hickey MacCandless. He began monastic life at the Trappist Abbey of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Pecos, NM; while he was still a young monk, the monastery transferred in 1955 to Lafayette, OR, where he was ordained a priest on 7 December 1958.
He did graduate studies at the international Benedictine University of Sant' Anselmo and the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. On his return to Our Lady of Guadalupe, he served for a time as novice-master. Upon the death of his father in 1966, he received permission to live with his widowed mother, and he eventually left the Trappists and became a priest of the Diocese of Beaumont, TX. During this time, he taught at Loyola University and at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, where he served as academic dean. He also taught at the University of Dallas and the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, OH, serving as department head in both institutions.
After his mother's death in 1978, he entered Saint Joseph Abbey, where he made profession as a Benedictine monk on 11 July 1981. He taught theology and Greek for 20 years in Saint Joseph Seminary College; he also taught in the Baton Rouge Religious Studies Institute, run jointly by the Diocese of Baton Rouge and the Seminary College. He also served as director of the Abbey Christian Life Center, as director of the monastery's oblates, and as prior and novice-master. For two years he was chaplain to Bowling Green Inn in Mandeville, and from 1994 to 2003 he was pastor of Saint Jane de Chantal Church in Abita Springs. He was a model of monastic observance to his brothers, a gentle and good-humored member of the community, much sought as a spiritual director and confessor. He experienced declining physical health and mental acuity during his last months, but he showed great patience and always expressed gratitude to those who cared for him. He is survived by his sister, Dorothy J. M. McCloskey.
The monks of Saint Joseph Abbey will receive his body at Vespers on Tuesday 29 December at 5:30 p.m. A funeral vigil will follow at 7:15 p.m., the Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11:15 a.m. on Wednesday 30 December, followed by burial in the Abbey Cemetery.