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Monk's teaching, garden inspired contemplation

| Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
The Rev. Sebastian A. Samay, a monk at St. Vincent Archabbey, died Oct. 1, 2013.

The Rev. Sebastian Samay used his brilliant mind to inspire students and his hands to create beauty in a garden that was named after him at St. Vincent College, the college's president said on Thursday.

“He was an extraordinary individual,” Brother Norman W. Hipps said. “I always thought Sebastian was the model of an individual who worked with both his mind and his hands, that there was not an opposition between the two demands.”

The Rev. Sebastian A. Samay, O.S.B., a monk of St. Vincent Archabbey, died Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, of a heart attack. He was 87.

The Hungarian refugee taught philosophy at the college, beginning in 1964, was academic dean from 1989-92 and served on the board of directors.

“He was very spontaneous, very delightful,” said Archabbot Douglas R. Nowicki. “He had a wonderful sense of humor.”

Rev. Samay had a way with words and spoke French, German, English and his native Hungarian, Hipps said.

Hipps took two philosophy classes the monk taught.

“He was one of the best teachers I ever had,” the college president said. “He was deep, thoughtful and very demanding.”

When a student asked a question, “he would not only answer the surface of the question ... but the implications,” Hipps said.

He tended “Father Sebastian's Garden” for decades.

“It's a lovely place,” Hipps said. “It's quite contemplative.”

“Every day, he was out there pruning, taking care of it, planting flowers,” Nowicki said. “He was active until the day he died.”

He was “novice master” for about 25 years, shaping and inspiring first-year monks, Hipps and Nowicki said.

The garden will continue to flourish, Nowicki said.

“We have an ongoing commitment to that, and there are several younger monks who have indicated an interest,” Nowicki said.

“We're really going to miss him,” Hipps added.

Rev. Samay's body will be received in the Elizabeth J. Roderick Center of St. Vincent Archabbey at 3 p.m. Monday, with a viewing to follow in the parlor of the Roderick Center from 3 to 5 and 7 to 9 p.m. Monday and 2 to 5 p.m. Tuesday. He will be transferred to the Basilica for a vigil service at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated by Archabbot Nowicki at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Archabbey Basilica.

Interment will follow in the St. Vincent Cemetery.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or bstiles@tribweb.com.

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