After working 14 years for the US Postal Service, Friar Ambrose Eischens OFM Conv. joined the Conventual Franciscans in his mid-30s. From then on, in his service to God’s people and his fellow Friars, his work and prayer combined to the point where they became one and the same. A big man with a bass singing voice that matched his body, he overwhelmed people not with his size, but with his gentle nature and humble spirit.
Br. Ambrose died Wednesday, December 20, in New Albany Indiana. He was born February 16, 1940, to Martin and Caroline (Schoenecker) Eischens in New Market, Minnesota. He was predeceased by his parents and his brothers Jerome, Harold, and LeRoy, and sisters Luella Tritz and Bernadine Benes. He is survived by his brother Wally, and a sister-in-law Ann Eischens (Jerome). He professed Simple Vows on August 1, 1977, and Solemn Vows on August 19, 1980.
Whether working with the poor and disadvantaged, running retreat centers, or serving within the Province, Br. Ambrose matched a dedication to people with attention to detail.
“In his various assignments over the course of his life, he was all about supporting and encouraging others,” said Fr. Dismas Veeneman OFM Conv. “At different points he took on difficult assignments. Some people would try to talk him out of it, but he would have none of it. That was where he felt he could make a difference in the lives of others.”
In addition to his various outside ministries and other service, Br. Ambrose was a choir member at different Franciscan parishes. He also played the organ on occasion at Mount St. Francis in southern Indiana.
“His joyfulness was most evident in his love of music and care for the Friars,” said Fr. Tom Smith OFM Conv. “And he actually chose to seek out the Friars after working for several years. That shows his great desire to live as a Franciscan.”
Having spent time earlier as a Friar in social services and outreach to the disadvantaged in Dekalb, Illinois, in his later years Br. Ambrose volunteered regularly at the Franciscan Kitchen in downtown Louisville, welcoming people at the door and listening when they needed to talk to someone.
Br. Ambrose was dedicated to his family in Minnesota, often driving to visit and support them. “He will be greatly missed,” said his niece Peggy Nagele. “We loved to see him when we could, and always looked forward to his annual Christmas letter where he would tell us about what was going on his life.”
May he rest in peace.