Sunday, December 1, 2013

Fr. Jacob Stronach Occupies His Mind with Fish

by Brother Marinus Kim, O.S.B.

Fr. Jacob Stronach, O.S.B., has an aquarium in his office, which is located in Anselm.  This is an unusual hobby in the seminary and the monastery.  Sr. Hilda Kleiman, O.S.B., became interested in his hobby and invited Fr. Jacob to the Mount Angel Seminary journalism class to hear his particular story in a press conference.  Furthermore, I interviewed with him to add more information.

He enjoyed taking care of fish as a pet for a long time before he entered the monastery.  As soon as he settled into his new job as a formation director, he wanted his old hobby for rest and relaxation.  Even if he likes this hobby, he cannot do it by his own will because he has to follow the Benedictine Rule. So, Fr. Jacob asked Abbot Gregory Duerr, O.S.B., and he revived his hobby with the permission.

Fr. Jacob gave a hint as to when he began his hobby.  When he was in junior high school, he bought some goldfish, and they lived a long time over his expectation that they would get sick or die shortly.

He gave the kinds of deep knowledge needed to enjoy the hobby for a long time.  Fr. Jacob explained some fish diseases such as fungus mold, damaged fins, and color loss.  Then he pointed out four main important things: "Keep the temperature and the water quality, change the filter and the water periodically, and do not overstock in the tank because overstocks will die by natural law."

Fr. Jacob with the fish tank in his office in Anselm

During the interview, three angelfish in the midst of the species of fish swam in the big tank, about 60 gallons.  It seemed so strange because a pair was together, but the third one was far away from them.  The single tried to get close to the pair periodically.  As soon as it reached the pair, two fish repelled it by some nibbles.  Fr. Jacob said, "I guess this is natural law. So, I will take out the single sooner and put in a new kind of fish later."

One day, I joined Fr. Aelred Yockey, O.S.B. and Fr. Jacob in Fr. Aelred's office.  They were talking about some technical aspects for Fr. Aelred's new fish that is a gift from Fr. Jacob.  It is still alive through Fr. Aelred's good care.

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