GOOCHLAND, Va. (WWBT) - Father Adrian Harmening, a prominent member of the city’s Catholic community and the Benedictine College Preparatory family, died of natural causes on Monday morning, according to school officials.
The loss of the priest leaves a missing piece in the community said incoming senior Ryan Tremain.
“Coming from public school, the monks walking around campus is very striking the first day," Tremain recalls his first moments at Benedictine College Preparatory. He adds that Father Harmening as very involved with the school, often seen attending sporting events and ceremonies throughout the years.
Harmening’s journey into adulthood started early; according to school officials, he enlisted in the United States Navy Armed Guard at 17, serving in Japan during World War II. After the war, and years of schooling, which included some time at the University of Virginia, he was ordained as a priest in 1955.
He was assigned to what was known as Benedictine High School and remained on that post.
“Many of my teachers who had attended Benedictine were very quick to tell stories about Father Adrian teaching their classes and acting as a principal, and really just being a role model for them," Tremain said.
Father Harmening, 92, also served 20 years as pastor at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Richmond and was also a chaplain for the Boy Scouts, the Knights of Columbus, and the Navy League.
But it seems his biggest impact was the young lives he inspired at Benedictine Prep.
“He wanted to make a saint out of every cadet,” Tremain said, adding the three main principles that summed up his time at the school: discipline, faith and respect.
Tremain now says it is his turn to carry on the pastor’s legacy, as he moves into a Battalion Commander in his senior year - the highest rank a student can achieve.
“I want to just maintain these principles and everything that he stood for, especially being in a leadership position next year. I think I’ll be able to just keep learning and being informed about his life and figure out how we can keep applying those principles and telling his story.”
Benedictine Prep says that Father Harmening’s remains will be kept private for his fellow monks and blood relatives. Details about a public service will be announced at a later date.
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