Father William Beaver leads Mass at both St. Peter’s and Our Lady Queen of Peace. (Photo by Henry Clay Webster)
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At 81, Father William Beaver is just happy to be celebrating 25 years of anything.
On Sunday, May 23, the beloved senior active priest at St. Peter’s celebrated his 25 anniversary since becoming ordained with parishioners at the church’s regular Sunday Mass.
Father Beaver came to the priesthood late in life.
After a career as a teacher and administrator in Catholic colleges, Beaver entered the Benedictine monastery at St. Vincent’s Archabbey in 1980.
“When I was in the monastery to become a monk, I had no plans to become a priest,” Beaver said.
Five years later, when a chance arose, the adventurous fellow enrolled in the Archabbey’s seminary.
Beaver graduated in 1990 with highest honors. He was assigned to a parish in Covington, Ky. for several years before being moved back to a parish in Jeannette, Pa.
Afterwards, Father Beaver was moved around quite a bit, filling any role that needed him.
For a while he served at Our Lady Queen of Peace in the 1990s before it merged with St. Peter’s parish.
At 75, Father Beaver decided he was ready to retire. But retirement for him meant becoming a senior priest at St. Peter’s where has said he has enjoyed helping wherever he is needed.
The most important part of his ministry is, undoubtedly, listening to confessions, he said. “It’s a ministry of helping: helping to reduce pain, helping to reduce shame in order to bring peace to their lives.
“Celebrating Mass is very important, of course, but it’s being with the people of God that is so much more important,” Father Beaver said.
So far, it doesn’t appear that Father Beaver will ever take a true retirement.
“I’ll only retire when I can’t walk,” he promised.
It doesn’t appear he’s slowing down at all.
“I’m currently studying Portuguese,” he said proudly.
Father Beaver hopes to use his new language to better communicate when he visits another Benedictine monastery located in Vinhedo, Brazil.