The grounds of St. Peter’s Abbey and St. Peter’s College have taken on a neater, more pleasant appearance in the past few years. Rev. Daniel Muyres, OSB, has been trimming trees and clearing brush with the chainsaw and tractor. Muyres, 80, enjoys doing outdoor work in the summer months. The Benedictine, who grew upon a farm, finds laborious work relaxing and is comfortable around machinery. He spends many hours every summer trimming the lawns, which cover several acres. Muyres helps cultivate the abbey potato and corn crops, and maintain the roads in summer and winter. He has serviced the farm equipment with the help of his brother Richard and his brother-in-law Frank Steier, an Oblate of St. Peter’s Abbey.
The public is most familiar with the pastoral work of Muyres who has served as a priest in the Muenster district for 54 years, and 12 years as a chaplain at the hospital in Humboldt, Sask. This year is a milestone for the Benedictine who will be retiring from the diocese as a pastor and celebrating 60 years of profession as a Benedictine monk.
The Muenster district is home to Muyres who was born in 1935 on a family farm near St. Gregor, 11 kilometres east of Muenster. He attended St. Gregor School, a one-room school, from 1941 to 1951 where he was taught by Henry Murphy for 10 years. Grades 11 and 12 were completed at St. Peter’s High School (located at St. Peter’s College), followed by one year of university at St. Peter’s College.
High school and university at St. Peter’s College were an easy adjustment for Muyres who appreciated the daily routine of classes and prayer. He thrived at sports and was always eager to join in on the sports activities. In 1954 he entered the novitiate at St. Peter’s Abbey and then attended seminary from 1955 to 1961 at St. John’s College in Collegeville, MN. The seminary opened up a new world of learning, research and many new possibilities, he said. There was excitement, too, at St. Peter’s Abbey in the 1950s and ‘60s when a building program expanded present structures and erected new ones. The opening of the Second Vatican Council in 1962 was a definite highlight, he commented.
St. John’s Abbey was the perfect setting for Muyres whose descendents were from the area. His great-grandparents, John and Agnes, lived at Holdingford, MN, about 48 kilometres west of St. John’s. Many of his relatives continue to reside there. Close to Holdingford in Krain Township is the small farm of his grandparents, William and Anna Muyres. His father, Frank, was born there in 1905. William and Anna Muyres, in 1909, moved from Minnesota to St. Gregor. While attending seminary, Muyres visited a number of his relatives in Minnesota. Several of them visited him at St. John’s Abbey.
Bishop Francis Klein ordained Muyres to the priesthood at St. Peter’s Cathedral, Muenster, on June 10, 1961. The parish is the final pastoral assignment for Muyres who has been serving there for 11 years.
“I never thought very much about what I was going to do in the future. I just wanted to finish high school and then make a decision when that time came,” Muyres said while reflecting on his past. “The thought of being a monk or a priest never really entered my mind. The pastor was very highly respected in our family and in our parish, but my parents and grandparents never spoke to me directly of becoming a monk or a priest. They were pleased when I finally did make up my mind to join St. Peter’s Abbey.”
Frank and Albertina Muyres raised six children on their family farm, two of whom became religious. Daniel joined the Benedictines and Jane joined the Ursuline Sisters in Bruno. As a young man, Muyres was kept busy helping his parents and five siblings on their farm. He remembers travelling to and from school by horse and caboose in winter through deep snowdrifts. In the spring and summer he either walked to school or travelled by horse and buggy. Sports were a favourite activity at school, especially soccer in winter and softball in summer.
“It was always interesting to watch the huge trains steam by on the railroad that had to be crossed on the way to and from school,” he recalled.
Church was important to the Muyres family who were members of St. Gregory Parish in St. Gregor. Visiting was an important part of family and church life, especially on Sundays. Relatives would get together for Sunday meals.
“You always knew the name of everybody you met at school, at church, in the store or on the street and everyone knew you. You were never a stranger. There was a real sense of closeness and of security in growing up in the community of St. Gregor,” he recalled.
Following ordination in 1961, Muyres has served in many roles at St. Peter’s Abbey. He taught English, Latin and science to high school students at St. Peter’s College and helped with sports activities. He was an assistant in the business office at St. Peter’s Abbey and held the position of business manager overseeing the accounts of St. Peter’s Abbey, College, Press and farm. He was the business manager and later financial manager for the Diocese of Muenster.
In 1974-75, Muyres attended Saint Paul University, Ottawa, completing a master’s degree in pastoral studies/counselling. In 1977, Muyres and Rev. Werner Renneberg, OSB, went on a 23-day tour entitled In the Footsteps of St. Paul. They traced the missionary routes of St. Paul and visited holy sites in Israel and Athens.
Muyres has served the parishes of: St. Augustine, Humboldt; St. Bruno, Bruno; St. Scholastica, Burr; Holy Rosary, Leroy; Sacred Heart, Watson; Holy Guardian Angels, Englefeld; Holy Trinity, Pilger; Canadian Martyrs, Middle Lake; St. Joseph’s, Fulda; and St. Peter’s Parish, Muenster. In 2004 he began to reside full time at St. Peter’s Abbey. He had spent many years living in a rectory while serving parishes.
“I have met many, many wonderful people in all of the parishes that I served. They have continued to be real pillars in their parishes.”