The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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October 5, 2001 Issue
Local News

Capuchin preacher and mystical writer dies at 99

Fr. Gabriel Diefenbach was noted for contemplative retreats and 'Mystic Prayer'

Fr. Gabriel Diefenbach, OFM, Cap., a noted preacher and mystical writer, died Sept. 24 at St. Paul Home, Kaukauna. He was 99.

He was born John Frederick Diefenbach in 1901 at Red Wing, Minn., to the late John and Edna (Bakke) Diefenbach. He joined the Capuchin Franciscan community as a novice in 1920 at St. Felix Friary, Huntington, Ind., and was given the religious name Gabriel.

After studying philosophy at Glenclyffe, Garrison, N.Y., and theology at Marathon, he was ordained to the priesthood in June, 1936.

After two years of parish ministry in Indiana and Wisconsin, he spent the rest of his priesthood in the preaching ministry. He spent most of his years traveling the United States conducting retreats and parish missions. He was well known for his contemplative retreats for religious men and women and he was the author of the book, Mystic Prayer.

His final assignment was at Monte Alverno Retreat Center, Appleton, where he continued to live in retirement.

Since 1997, he had resided at St. Paul Home, Kaukauna.

Surviving are three nieces, a nephew and 16 great nieces. His one sister, Margaret Eldredge preceded him in death.

Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Sept. 27 in the Monte Alverno Retreat Center Chapel. Burial was at Holy Cross, the Capuchin Friary Cemetery in Mt. Calvary.

Memorials can be designated for Monte Alverno Retreat Center.

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