Catholic Vancouver April 5, 2018

Benedictine monk dies on Easter Monday

By Agnieszka Ruck

Father Lawrence Bilesky (seated) and Bishop David Monroe of Kamloops in this 2007 photo. (Photo courtesy Chuck Bishop)

MISSION—The Benedictine community at Westminster Abbey is mourning the loss of a teacher, photographer, carpenter, and monk.

Father Lawrence Bilesky, OSB, died in the Abbey infirmary on Easter Monday, April 2, after living and serving with that monastic community in Mission for 66 years. It was one week after his 88th birthday.

According to Westminster Abbey, Father Bilesky had many talents that he brought to the service of the monks. He taught Latin and Greek in the major seminary, photographed Abbey events, and used his skills with his hands to turn a room in the minor seminary to a registrar’s office, where he worked for many years.

“Although he was colour blind, he was a good photographer and left thousands of slides of black and white photos in our archives,” said Father Mark Dumont, OSB.

Father Bilesky’s photos were published in The B.C. Catholic, as well as the Abbey’s Pax Regis magazine, which for many years he printed using a Multilith offset press in 1969, and later a Heidelberg press.

The multi-talented monk was born in Regina, Sask., in 1930 and baptized with the name Leonard. His family moved to Vancouver six years later, where he studied at St. Augustine’s Elementary and Vancouver College before moving on to the Seminary of Christ the King.

He made his first profession of vows in 1952 and was ordained a priest by Archbishop William Mark Duke in 1957. He was the first cousin of Father Terrance Bileski, who was most recently the pastor of St. John the Apostle Parish before he retired last year.

Father Bilesky was diagnosed with pneumonia, then lung cancer, this March.

The funeral Mass for Father Bilesky was scheduled for April 12 at Westminster Abbey in Mission. Interment was to take place in the Abbey cemetery directly after Mass.

Father Bilesky in an undated photo. (RCAV Archives)