During World War II some German U-boat prisoners of war murdered a fellow prisoner at a camp in Texas. They were tried, convicted and sent to the disciplinary barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., to await execution by hanging. Father Justin, then Chaplain to the Sisters of Charity, Leavenworth, ministered to those men to the time of the execution. Father George Towle, then Chaplain at St. Ignatius Chapel, Fort Leavenworth, anointed them after they dropped through the gallows door.
Father Justin was born near Trier, Germany. After the death of his mother, the father brought the family to St. Mark, one of the many small German-Catholic settlements west of Wichita, Kan. Justin studied at St. Benedict’s High School and College. He pronounced first vows on July 2, 1902, and was ordained April 2, 1907. From 1905-1915 he taught at St. Benedict’s College, and for a time was also infirmarian. Father Justin attended summer school at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Chicago.
In addition to a 30-year ministry to the Sisters of Charity, Father Justin was chaplain to the Benedictine Sisters at Waunakee, Wisc. He was also in parochial ministry at Valley Falls, Burlington, Iowa, Kelly, Kan., and at Good Intent, west of Atchison. He died peacefully in his room at the Abbey.
Father Justin had a hearing problem and so when there was a speaker in the Chapter Room (what is now the community room), he sat as close to the speaker’s stand as possible. Often when the speaker was finished he would say in a voice for all, including the speaker who had just concluded, “I didn’t hear a thing!” He was a kind, generous monk who served so many so well.