Father Flavian G. Yelinko, O.S.B., the oldest living monk in the history of Saint Vincent Archabbey, died Thursday, February 18, 2010. He was 103. He was born in Palmerton, Pennsylvania, on September 2, 1906, a son of the late John and Mary (Gunther) Yelinko. He was predeceased by two sisters, Mary Willen and Elizabeth Yelinko , and four brothers, Frank, Joseph, John and Stephen Yelinko. He is survived by a brother, Joseph.
He attended Sacred Heart Parochial School in Palmerton. He first came to Saint Vincent at the age of 14, in 1920, to attend Saint Vincent Preparatory School, graduating in 1924. He attended Saint Vincent College, earning a bachelor of arts degree in 1929, and Saint Vincent Seminary, earning a master of arts degree in 1933. He also did graduate studies in library science at the Catholic University of America.
He entered the Benedictine Monastic Community of Saint Vincent Archabbey in 1926. He made simple profession of vows on July 2, 1927, and solemn profession of vows on July 11, 1930. He was ordained a priest in Saint Vincent Archabbey Church by the the late Bishop Hugh Boyle of Pittsburgh, on June 18, 1933.
Father Flavian was the only monk at Saint Vincent to have attended the funeral of every archabbot in the monastery’s history (ten total) except for founder Boniface Wimmer, O.S.B., who died in 1887. He loved to tell stories, including many about the early years of Saint Vincent. A favorite was that when he arrived on campus in 1920, “the whole place had one telephone, manned by Brother Jake in the monastery. When he was mowing the lawn, there was no one to answer the phone.” In 1936, he was featured in the March 22 edition of The Baltimore Sun for catching a burglar who broke into his church to steal from the poor box. Father Flavian had been armed with only a flashlight. He served at twelve parishes, as well as in various roles at Saint Vincent College and Seminary, and helped with renovations and building construction projects at many of those sites.
At Saint Vincent Preparatory School and College, Father Flavian was the first college librarian (1927-1937). He was responsible for combining the book collections into one location, cataloguing all of the books, and establishing library hours with librarians and aides.
His pastoral experience is considerable. He was assistant pastor pro tem at Fourteen Holy Martyrs Parish, Baltimore, Maryland (1935); and Saint Mary Parish, Pittsburgh (1936). He was associate pastor at Saint Mary Parish, Erie (1937); Saint Boniface Parish, Pittsburgh (1938). The following year he served at Saint James Church in Waynesburg, Ohio, then at Saint Bernard Parish in Hastings (1940-42). He received his first pastorate at Saint Lawrence Parish from 1943 to 1945, then served as pastor of Saint Benedict Parish in Carrolltown from 1945 to 1949. As pastor there he oversaw the electrification of the tower clock in the church and the bell ringers in the school, the excavation of the school basement for the cafeteria, and the renovations of the church, as well as an addition of a church social hall. He also started a Cemetery Association there.
In 1950, he was named associate pastor of Saint Bruno Parish, South Greensburg. While pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Youngstown from 1951 to 1959, Father Flavian oversaw construction of the school there. He was then sent to serve as pastor of Queen of the World Parish, St. Marys, from 1961 to 1965, when the rectory was remodeled and new classrooms were added to the school. As pastor of Saint Gregory Parish, Virginia Beach, from 1965 to 1967, he was responsible for an addition to the school. Then he moved to Saint John Parish in Summerhill, Pennsylvania, and its mission in New Germany from 1967 to 1978, where he supervised the remodeling of the church.
Father Flavian retired on August 1, 1978, and returned to Saint Vincent. Following his retirement the former librarian was asked to establish the archives for the Seminary and set up a directory of all students who attended the Seminary. He served as Seminary Archivist from 1981 to 1985.
His other responsibilities included serving as chaplain of the Knights of Columbus Council in Barnesboro and as area chaplain of the diocesan Boy Scouts in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese. He was also co-organizer of the Catholic Periodical Index, sponsored by the Catholic Library Association.
On January 17, 2002, Father Flavian became the oldest member in the history of the Saint Vincent Benedictine community, dating back to 1846, at 95 years of age plus six months. The entire Benedictine community attended a special dinner in his honor, held on February 11, 2002. Again on his 100th birthday, September 2, 2006, Father Flavian presented a menu for his monastic community’s dinner celebration of his birthday; at the abbot’s table he raised his glass to acknowledge the toasts in appreciation of his long life.
The body of Father Flavian will be received at 3:15 p.m. Saturday, February 20 at the Elizabeth J. Roderick Center at Saint Vincent, followed by viewing until 5 and again from 7 to 9 p.m. On Sunday, viewing will be from 3 to 5 p.m. in the parlor of the Roderick Center. The body will be transferred to the Basilica for the vigil service at 7:15 p.m. Sunday. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 2 p.m. Monday in the Archabbey Basilica, followed by the interment in the Saint Vincent Cemetery. Memorial contributions can be made to the Benedictine Health and Welfare Fund, Saint Vincent Archabbey, 300 Fraser Purchase Road, Latrobe, Pennsylvania 15650-2690.