Brother Benedict F. Janecko, O.S.B., 83, a monk of Saint Vincent Archabbey for more than 60 years, died Friday, May 20, 2022 after a brief illness. He was born November 22, 1938 in Marguerite, a son of the late Frank and Margaret (Kralik) Janecko. He had one brother, the late Thomas Janecko.
He taught for many years at Saint Vincent College and Saint Vincent Seminary, before becoming, in his “retirement” an assistant manager of the Saint Vincent Post Office, something he did for nearly two decades. Brother Ben attended Saint Benedict’s Parochial School in Marguerite as well as Saint Vincent Preparatory School before earning a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy from Saint Vincent College in 1961. He entered the monastic community at Saint Vincent in 1958 while a student in the College, made simple vows on July 2, 1959, and solemn vows on July 2, 1962.
He moved on to graduate work in Rome, first at the international Benedictine school in Rome, Sant’ Anselmo, where he received his S.T.L. in theology in 1966. He then received his S.S.L. in Sacred Scripture in 1969 from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. During his time in Europe, he was ordained a deacon on July 4, 1964, in Einsiedeln, Switzerland, by Bishop Joseph Avack.
After his return from Rome, he began teaching in the Religious Studies Department at Saint Vincent College, where he taught courses such as Old Testament I & II and Mythologies of the Middle East. He spent the summers of 1970 and 1971 as a visiting scholar at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.
At Saint Vincent Seminary, he taught Old Testament; was dean of men and later vice rector and served as coordinator of workshops in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Pastoral Institute and Latrobe Area Hospital. He took a sabbatical leave to Israel at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Jerusalem, in 1981. In 1985, he was among 29 professors named a National Endowment for the Humanities recipient of a grant to study “Judaic Studies” with Jacob Neusner and others at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. The grant entailed six weeks of lectures, discussions, library work and research on how Judaic Studies might complement the study of the Humanities and the teaching thereof. He had been a member of the Catholic Biblical Association Task Force on “The Old Testament and Ecology” headed by Lawrence Frizzell of Seton Hall University.
Brother Ben was promoted to the rank of professor at Saint Vincent College and Saint Vincent Seminary in 1995. He retired from the seminary faculty in 2007 and the college faculty in 2012.
He continued teaching novices the Psalms and for a time offered an adult “course” at Saint Vincent Basilica Parish once a week based on the upcoming Sunday Readings of the Scriptures.
Brother Ben was also known for his authorship of The Psalms: The Heartbeat of Life and Worship, published in 1986 by St. Meinrad Abbey Press and reprinted in 2007 by Archabbey Publications. He wrote many articles on the Psalms, as well as other topics, in such publications as The Bible Today. In 2003, he received a first place for best feature article, prayer and spirituality, from the Catholic Press Association, for “Forgiveness and Reconciliation in Genesis,” which was published in The Bible Today. In June of 2009 Brother Ben was honored by the Saint Vincent Prep School Alumni for his success as a student and his commitment to faith, family and community.
The body of Brother Benedict will be received at 2 p.m. Monday, May 23 at the Elizabeth J. Roderick Center of Saint Vincent Seminary, followed by viewing until 5 p.m. A vigil service will be held at 7:15 p.m. Monday in the Archabbey Basilica, with Archabbot Martin Bartel, O.S.B., as principal celebrant and homilist. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Tuesday, May 24 in the Basilica with Archabbot Martin Bartel presiding, and Brother Benedict’s classmate, Father Warren Murrman, O.S.B., homilist, followed by the Rite of Committal at the Saint Vincent Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Benedictine Health and Welfare Fund at Saint Vincent Archabbey, 300 Fraser Purchase Rd., Latrobe, PA 15650.