Date of death: 5/25/2017
Saint Meinrad Class: O 1970
Abbot Brian passed away from cancer at 2:56 a.m., Thursday, May 25, 2017 at the Richardton Health Center in Richardton. Abbot Brian was born in St. Alexius Hospital in Bismarck, ND, on October 19, 1943, to Valentine and Mary (Wald) Wangler, and baptized as Henry. He grew up on the family farm southwest of Napoleon, ND, where he learned many skills that he found useful throughout his life. He was the fifth child of nine boys and two girls. His elementary education was at a country school with one teacher for all eight grades. His first year of high school was at St. Francis Academy, Hankinson, ND, where he had two aunts in the Franciscan community. He finished high school at Abbey Prep in 1961 and attended the Abbey’s Junior College from 1961 to 1963, after which he entered Assumption Abbey to begin monastic life. He was given the name Brian, and made his monastic profession on July 11, 1964. After completing college studies at St. John’s University, Collegeville, MN, in 1966, he began theological studies at Assumption Abbey Seminary for the 1966-1967 school year. From 1967 to 1970 Frater Brian completed his seminary studies at St. Meinrad School of Theology, St. Meinrad, IN. He was ordained simplex on August 2, 1969. From September to December 1970, Father Brian was a recruiter for Assumption College. In December of 1970, the decision was made to close the college, and in January of 1971 he was appointed assistant pastor of St. Joseph’s Church, Devils Lake, ND. In August of 1972 he was called back to the Abbey to head up the Christian Life Center. In time he also became the Prior, Formation Director, and worked with Marriage Encounter. Abbot Robert West sent Father Brian to Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA, in September of 1975 to earn an MA degree in Catholic Formative Spirituality. Father Brian graduated from Duquesne in May of 1978, and returned to the Abbey to serve as Formation Director. He was also reappointed Prior. During the spring of 1983, he was asked to become pastor of St. Mary’s Parish, Richardton, a job he enjoyed for the next 21 years. On May 28, 2004, Father Brian was elected eighth abbot of Assumption Abbey. Abbot Brian came to be appreciated for his emotional balance, practical wisdom, and willingness to serve. He often rolled up his sleeves and did menial chores alongside his brother-monks. He seemed genuinely to love his job. In addition to his many duties as major superior, he took the Sunday evening Mass at Queen of Peace Church in Dickinson, ND, from the last Sunday of January, 2005, to Sunday, October 30, 2016. Abbot Brian received a diagnosis of cancer in October of 2015 and was on chemotherapy for eight months. He was very grateful to his four brothers living in Bismarck who came to visit him during chemo sessions. He was also most grateful to other family members who expressed their concern, remembered his birthday, and made the effort to visit him. One of Abbot Brian’s regrets during his last year was in not being able to visit all family members as he would have liked, and in not being able to visit, one more time, Assumption Abbey’s beloved daughter house, Monasterio Benedictino de Tibat in Bogota, Colombia. Abbot Brian enjoyed monastic life and was very grateful to his confreres for their dedication and good humor. Abbot Brian is preceded in death by his parents and one sister, Elsie Weninger. He is survived by eight brothers, Tony (Lucy) Wangler, Mark (Luella) Wangler, Frank (Florence) Wangler, Alois (Erica) Wangler, Julius (Patricia Ann) Wangler, Valentine (JoAnn) Wangler, Jim (Diane) Wangler, Steven (Sherry) Wangler, one sister, Ann Marie (Allyn) Wald, and by his brother-in-law Norbert (Phyllis) Weninger and many nieces and nephews.