Sunday, March 27, 2011

The life and times of the Rev. John Henry, the gun-collecting abbot with a colorful past

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- "A little oasis of promise from a troubled world."

That's how the Rev. John Henry described his Ohio City monastery and homeless shelter in January 1990, when neighbors spoke against his plans to build a larger dining room.

But 21 years to the day after Henry's soothing words appeared in The Plain Dealer, Cleveland police discovered that his oasis was something more like a mirage.

At Henry's apartment across from St. Herman's House of Hospitality were 80 guns, some in unlocked cars, along with 874 boxes of ammunition. A week later, another 150 guns and 1,314 boxes of ammunition were found at the farm in Amish country where the monk raised beef.

Supporters were stunned, but warning signs of a fragile mental state cluttered the shelter. After Henry, 58, surrendered the weapons and agreed to a leave of absence, at least 12 two-ton trucks were needed to haul away old furniture, clothing, knickknacks and other rubbish he had collected.

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