Monsignor Richard J. Schuler Dies
Requiescat in Pace

Michael Matt
Editor, The Remnant

On April 27th thirty-three years ago, this writer received Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament for the first time.  For me it was an added honor to be offered the sublime privilege at the hand of a good and holy priest by the name of Monsignor Richard Schuler. 

Monsignor Schuler passed away on Friday April 20, 2007. Thus passes another alter christus from the rapidly fading ranks of the old guard, those trained and ordained before Vatican II.

Over the years, Monsignor Schuler did significantly more than most here in the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis to preserve the traditional dignity and sacrality of the Roman Rite.  Though he eventually came to offer the New Mass, his Church of St. Agnes was the only one in Minnesota to preserve the Latin language in the New Mass every Sunday up to and including the present day.  His 10:00 High Mass was so close to the Tridentine Mass in general appearance, in fact, that visitors often mistook it for the same. 

The Holy Week services at St. Agnes were an event, drawing Catholics from far and near, since the rites had remained comparatively unchanged and retained much of the spirit and general character of the old days.

A renowned master of Sacred Music, Monsignor Schuler also did more perhaps than any other priest in this country to preserve the sacred musical heritage of the Catholic Church after Vatican II.

The last time I saw Monsignor Schuler was at Tenebrae on Good Friday last year.  (Yes, he had preserved that, too.)  Well into his 80s by then, he was old and rather frail but his mind was sound and he still retained that magnificent priestly bearing so conspicuous by its absence throughout most of the modern Church.  At Tenebrae that day I pointed him out to my 9-year-old and noted:  "That's how Catholic priests used to be… before the Revolution." 

I can still remember grade school days at St. Agnes years ago, when "Monsignor" would walk out onto the playground from time to time to "inspect" his troops.  The black cassock fringed in red, the tall white-haired priest, the good-natured manner in which he'd tell us we’d better be good, obey our mommies and say our prayers.  Funny, he never played soccer with us!  No namby-pamby efforts were made to dumb-down the priesthood to the level of "one of the guys".  He didn't want his students to "relate" to him in that way; he wanted us to respect him, to see Christ in him, to see priestly authority, charity and dignity.  He succeeded!

Though for many years Monsignor Schuler had been friends with Remnant founder Walter Matt (having even sung for Mr. Matt's Nuptial Mass in 1954), the Council eventually came between the two sons of German immigrants. After the Council, Monsignor Schuler eventually began offering the New Mass but in the manner he believed had been intended by the Council Fathers.  As Michael Davies pointed out many times in his Remnant column, however, had Monsignor Schuler’s Mass been the one adopted by the universal Church after the Council it is unlikely there would have been such an urgent need for traditionalist counterrevolution.

There were no altar girls at St. Agnes...ever!  There were no women in the sanctuary, no ‘sign of peace’, no Communion in the hand, no guitars, pianos, clowns, nothing!  He held the high ground as best he could, and thousands of Catholics (traditionalists and conservatives alike) recognize his heroic stand against the liturgical experimentation that eventually led to wide scale loss of Faith, closed churches and empty seminaries.  Not surprisingly, St. Agnes has had more vocations to the priesthood in recent decades than any other parish.

During the often difficult skirmishes between "conservative" Catholics and traditionalists, Monsignor Schuler was more fair-minded than many, given the climate of fear and uncertainty that prevailed at the time.  He did on occasion offer the old Mass for St. Paul's indult community, and, when Walter Matt died in 2002, an aging Monsignor Schuler quite unexpectedly walked into the funeral home and knelt at the coffin of the man he'd known (though not always agreed with) most of his adult life. There he prayed for several long moments before rising from the kneeler and blessing my father’s body.  He then approached my mother, took her by the hand, and, in a voice audible to those standing nearby, said, simply:  "He should have been made a papal Knight of St. Gregory!"

Monsignor Schuler was in many ways sympathetic to the cause of the traditionalists. He was certainly a priest of the old school, and he will be missed by all who knew and loved him—his loyal flock as well as the many traditionalists who didn't always see eye-to-eye with him but who nevertheless admired him for all he did to help so many lost sheep find their way back toward Tradition. 

Many thanks, Monsignor.  May God grant you peace and eternal rest.

Tu es sacerdos in aeternum secundum ordinem Melchisedech!

The following is a portion of an obituary that is to appear in local newspapers here in St. Paul.


(1920 - 2007)

Monsignor  Richard Joseph Schuler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 30, 1920. His parents, Otto H. Schuler and Wilhelmine M. Hauk, were American-born children of immigrants from Tirol in Austria and the Black Forest of southern Germany.

He was baptized in the Ascension Church and attended the parochial school, DeLaSalle High School and the College of Saint Thomas before entering the Saint Paul Seminary.

He was ordained a priest on August 18, 1945, by Archbishop Murray at the Saint Paul Cathedral, and he celebrated his first solemn Mass the following day at the Ascension Church. He was assigned to Nazareth Hall Preparatory Seminary to teach Latin and music. He earned the M.A. degree from the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester, N. Y., in 1950, and in 1954 he spent a year of study of renaissance music manuscripts at the Vatican Library on a Fulbright scholarship from the United States government.