A Tale Of Identical Twin Priests With Identical Fate

The New York-born identical twins, Julian and Adrian Riester were born Jerome and Irving on March 27, 1919, to a couple who already had five daughters.

They took the names of saints upon their ordination in the Catholic church.
The identical twin priests were also brothers in the Roman Catholic Order of Friars Minor.

Professed friars for 65 years, they spent much of that time working together at St. Bonaventure University, doing carpentry work, gardening and driving visitors to and from the airport and around town.

After attending St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute, the brothers were turned away by the military because of their eyesight, the university said. One had a bad left eye, the other a bad right eye.

Eventually they joined the friars of Holy Name Province in New York City. They received separate assignments before reuniting at the seminary at St. Bonaventure from 1951 to 1956.

After serving parishes in Buffalo for 17 years, they returned to St. Bonaventure in 1973 and spent the next 35 years there.

They died Wednesday at St. Anthony Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla., Brother Julian in the morning and Brother Adrian in the evening.

Both died of heart failure, said Father James Toal, guardian of St. Anthony Friary in St. Petersburg, where the inseparable twins lived since moving from western New York in 2008.

Funeral services are scheduled for Monday at St. Mary Our Lady of Grace Church in St. Petersburg.

Afterward, the brothers’ bodies will be flown to Buffalo and buried Wednesday at St. Bonaventure Cemetery, across the street from the university.

The case of Julian and Adrian Riester can be long remembered as a tale of identical twin priests with identical fate.

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