Archbishop Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee commented Aug. 22 that “For a quarter of a century, Archbishop Weakland led the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and his leadership embodied his Benedictine spirit. His pastoral letter, ‘Eucharist without Walls,’ evoked his love for the Eucharist and its call to service. During his time, he emphasized an openness to the implementation of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, including the role of lay men and women in the Church, the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, ecumenical dialogue, and addressing societal issues, especially economic justice. May he now rest in peace.”
Weakland was born in 1927 in Patton, Pennsylvania, and attended the minor seminary run by St. Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe. He was professed as a member of the Order of St. Benedict at the abbey in 1946, and took solemn vows in 1949. He was ordained a priest in 1951.
A music scholar, he was made a consultor to the Consilium, the committee that interpreted Sacrosanctum Concilium and that was responsible for preparing the revised Order of Mass following the Second Vatican Council, in 1964. He was made a member of the Consilium in 1968.
In 1967, he was appointed abbot primate of the Order of St. Benedict.
He was appointed archbishop of Milwaukee in 1977 and consecrated a bishop that year. He served there until his retirement at age 75 in 2002.
His own sexual abuse, and his poor handling of abuse by other priests, led to the renaming, in 2019, of the Weakland Center, which holds the offices of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.