Brother Henry Mary, who entered the Society of Saint Pius X’s (SSPX) Brothers Novitiate in Winona, Minnesota in 1990, died in his bedroom at Queen of Angels Priory in Dickinson, Texas on August 13, 2023, at 10:15am. At the time of his passing, Brother Henry was receiving around-the-clock home care and supervision from priests and laity located near the priory.
Born Paul Schafer on June 30, 1936, in rural Pewamo, Michigan, the future religious was the eldest of Henry and Alice Schafer’s five children. Growing up on a farm, Brother Henry’s daily chores included tending to livestock, cleaning the chicken coop, making slop, and cutting firewood. At 14, Brother Henry lost three fingers in a wood-chopping accident, prompting his father to remark that Henry would not be able to become a priest.
After graduating high school in 1954, Brother Henry entered the Franciscans in Chasca, Ohio, taking the name Brother Augustine. He left the Franciscans six years later, returning to Michigan for a time before traveling to New York in 1965, where he would reside until 1990. During his decades in New York, Brother Henry worked at several restaurants around the city and began amassing Catholic books, many of which he donated to the SSPX’s St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary. Cognizant of the crisis in the Catholic Church, Brother Henry was attached to the traditional Latin Mass and found himself called to religious life as part of the Society’s Brothers Novitiate.
Remaining in Winona until 1994, Brother Henry then set off for a year in El Paso, Texas before being assigned to Browerville, Minnesota from 1995 to 1997. He was appointed to Florida in 1997, where he cared for Fr. Carl Pulvermacher, OFM, founder of Angelus Press, until the latter’s death in 2006. After that, Brother Henry served at Society priories in Los Gatos, California (2006-09), British Columbia, Canada (2009-12), and finally Dickinson from 2012 until his passing. During these various stays, he labored as a cook, sacristan, and caretaker.
In early November 2021, Brother Henry was diagnosed with colon cancer. After undergoing surgery later that month, Brother Henry declined subsequent chemotherapy due to the toll it would take on his 85-year-old body. Since March 2023, Brother Henry’s health rapidly declined, leaving him mostly bedridden and unable to care for himself. The priory priests and local laity took turns caring for Brother Henry.
Three weeks before dying, Brother Henry was given extreme unction and received his last holy viaticum on the First Friday of August 4, 2023, which was also the feast of St. Dominic. After that, he was not able to take any further food and spent his final days unresponsive in bed before the Lord called him to his eternal reward.
Eternal rest grant unto Thy servant Brother Henry, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.