Benedictines in the Library
Throughout the Library's history, there has been a strong Benedictine presence within its walls. It is through the hard work of the Benedictine Fathers, embracing their role as the keepers of books, and their commitment to progress that Benedictine University's library is what it is today. The following entries celebrate the men who made it their work to serve the students, faculty and staff of Benedictine University, and the books they kept.
Fr. Adolph Hrdlicka
Fr. Adolph Hrdlicka started his studies at St. Procopius in the fall of 1915 and the professed his vows in 1920. In 1922, Fr. Adolph took up an appointment as the librarian in the College's first library. He served as the College's Librarian for most of the next five decades where he oversaw two expansions of the library and the library's recognition as one of the best small Catholic college libraries. St. Procopius was recognized as a college in 1956 and Fr. Adolph left his position briefly to be appointed the College's first president. Over the three years he served, he saw the school successfully through the North Central Accreditation process, set up the first lay board of trustees, and began a long-range planning which eventually led to the construction of Kohlbeck Hall and Lownick Library. In 1959 Fr. Adolph turned the College presidencey to Fr. Daniel Kucera and returned to his appointment of College Librarian. He retired from the College in 1970 and took charge of the New Abbey library until his retirement in 1979.
Fr. Albert Ondriska
Father Albert was encouraged to study at St. Procopius Academy by his parish priest, Fr. Ambrose Ondrak. Once he attended St. Procopius, he joined the first novitate class to be trained in Lisle, and professed his vows in 1940. After a number of years teaching and devoting time to parish work, Fr. Albert spent his summers attending graduate courses in library science at the Catholic University of America. After his studies, for the next two decades Fr. Albert took up his post behind the main desk at the library--most often in the evenings.
Fr. Vitus Buresh
Father Vitus Buresh attended St. procopius where he recieved his high school, college, and seminary education. He professed his monastic vow in 1944 and immediately began serving as the assistant to Fr. Adolph Hrdlicka in the library. Fr. Vitus obtained his master's degree in library science from the Catholic University of American in 1950 and a certificate in archival management from the National Archives in 1959. While Fr. Adolph served as the College's first president, Fr. Vitus tool over the role of head librarian before leaving St. Procopius to serve as chaplain and instructor at a nursing school in Chicago. He returned to the Abbey in 1964 and resumed his library duties by becoming the College Librarian and Archivist until 1982 when he retired from the college. He continued his devotion to library science and archival management by working at the Abbey's library and archive.
Fr. Vitus published a number of articles and translations of Bohemian works related to the Abbey's history and the Czech hertiage. He also authored The Procopian Chronicle for the centennial celebration and observance in 1985.
Fr. Donald Hardesty
Fr. Donald joined the St. Procopius College community in 1950 where he joined the staff of student-librarians. He professed his vows in 1953 and worked in the College's accounting department while he pursued an accounting graduate degree from DePaul University. He left St. Procopius College in the academic year of 1964-1965 to pursue his graduate degree fulltime and resided at St. May of Celle Parish. He was appointed the associate pastor of that parish and remained there until 1979 when the Abbey relinquished its care to the Archdiocese of Chicago. In 1981, Fr. Donald returned to Illinois Benedictine College where he served as the Public Services Librarian until his sudden death in 1988.
Fr. Christan Ceplecha
Father Christian began attending St. Procopius College in 1945. Following his freshman year he entered the novitate, professed his vows in 1947, and was ordained priesthood in 1953. He continued his studies and earned his Ph.D. in Modern European History from the Catholic University of America, and was an important firgure in establishing Illinois Benedictine College's Department of History in 1962. He served as a professor of history until 1990, and in January 1987, took over the position of University Archivist as well as the Abbey Archivist. He collected, filed, and maintained records and artifacts pertaining to the 100+ years of Procopian and Benedictine history.
Fr. Robert Buday
Father Robert Buday attended St. Procopius Academy and College where he was inspired to pursue a monastic vacation. In 1961, at the age of 21, he professed his vows and became Frater Bernard, though he later went by his baptismal name of Robert. He began his library career by assisting Father Adolph Hrdlicka in the college library as a clerk. In 1967, he became the ausio-visual coordinator at Lownik Library. Three years later he became the coordinator at Benet Academy. Starting in the 1980s, Fr. Robert became a pioneer in the educational use of computers and taught a class in desktop publishing during his last few years at Illinois Benedictine College.