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175th Anniversary

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Weekly Reflections
175th Anniversary »

Beginning with Founders' Day on Nov. 19, 2020, Saint Vincent will begin celebrating its 175th Anniversary - our demi-semi-sept-centennial.

As we celebrate this milestone in our history, we will be commemorating the occasion throughout the coming year, concluding on Founders' Day 2021. As part of this celebration, there will be a series of weekly reflections emails, written by members of the Saint Vincent monastic and college communities, as well as alumni and friends. You can sign up here to receive these weekly emails. We will also be posting these reflections here on a weekly basis. Be sure to stay tuned to the website and your inbox for more to come as we celebrate 175 years of Saint Vincent! 

  • Reflection 40 - Sept. 16, 2021: Jerome Oetgen, Ph.D.

    Archabbot Leopold Krul (1918-1992)

    When elected ninth archabbot of Saint Vincent in 1979, Father Leopold Krul was 61 years old and fell under the new term limits for abbots, which required them to resign from office when they reached the age of 65. Despite his short tenure, however, Archabbot Leopold’s contributions to Saint Vincent during his four years as abbot were far-reaching and substantial.

    He reinvigorated the community’s prayer life with renewed emphasis on traditional spiritual devotions, frequent private prayer and the Divine Office. He led a thorough and productive reassessment of the community’s educational, pastoral and missionary apostolates. He gave regular conferences to the monks on monastic spirituality that fostered the continuing spiritual growth and development of the Benedictine community.

    He reorganized and strengthened the community’s monastic formation program and established the Human Resources Council to develop and oversee policies regarding the education, guidance and assignments of the monks.

    In his role as chancellor of Saint Vincent College and Saint Vincent Seminary, he guided these institutions through the shoals of inflation and enrollment fluctuation and implemented the financial and administrative restructuring required to ensure their future success. During his chancellorship, he also prepared the college for its momentous and smooth transition to coeducation.

    His pastoral responsibilities and activities, which extended even beyond Saint Vincent, included many speaking engagements at the functions of Slovak and various other organizations. He gave numerous conferences and retreats to religious communities of men and women.

    Everyone who knew him recognized Archabbot Leopold as a holy man, some even remarking that he was “perhaps a saint.” With a long and intense commitment to his monastic vocation and deep devotion to the Eucharist and the Holy Spirit, he embodied the kindness, generosity and goodness that Saint Benedict in his Rule required of an abbot.

    Those who knew Archabbot Leopold were impressed not only by his “monastic levelheaded-ness” but also by his warmth, humor and deep spirituality. He was an inspirational and beloved spiritual leader. “I am convinced that the Holy Spirit guides us at all times,” he wrote, “and my desire is to fulfill God’s will.”

    Jerome Oetgen, Ph.D.

    C‘69; S‘73; and Biographer for the Archabbots of Saint Vincent

  • Reflection 39 - Sept. 9, 2021: Jerome Oetgen, Ph.D.

    Archabbot Egbert Donovan (1913-1998)

    In 1967, Father Egbert Donovan was elected eighth archabbot of Saint Vincent. It was the revolutionary ‘60s, a time when Saint Vincent experienced the full brunt of the changes, positive and negative, occurring in the world and in the Church. To some, the changes were welcome, to others, threatening. For all, the future was uncertain. The danger of loss of nerve and capitulation to strong, often misguided pressures from within the monastic community and from without loomed.

    It was a time that called for a special kind of man to lead the large and complex institution that was Saint Vincent, a man with a strong sense of personal identity, yet open to change, a man of wisdom, fatherly understanding, and elastic patience. In the providence of God, Archabbot Egbert was exactly that kind of man.

    Upon his election, Archabbot Egbert faced the challenge of managing a debt-burdened community charged with responsibility for a wide range of pastoral, educational and missionary apostolates. It was a community that was aging. Professed monks were departing and the number of new vocations to the monastic life was declining. There was also the challenge of implementing monastic renewal in the wake of the Vatican II reforms.

    To have accepted, as Archabbot Egbert did, the challenge of seeing Saint Vincent through such a difficult period was a selfless act of devotion to duty. To have resolved the conflicts, to have healed the divisions that accompanied revolutionary change, to have held the community together and infused into it a rebirth of unity and charity as he did — these were achievements of the highest order, made possible because the blessing and grace of God were with him.

    A tolerant, unbiased, flexible leader, Archabbot Egbert was a humble man with an appealing, self-deprecating sense of humor— a good and holy father in the mold of Saint Benedict. In his Holy Rule, Saint Benedict instructs his monks to show their abbot “unfeigned and humble love, (RB 72: 8 – 12). With Archabbot Egbert, this was not a difficult part of the Rule for the monks to follow. Members of the community who knew him relate many wonderful experiences and conversations with Archabbot Egbert; they tell stories that elicit a smile or a hearty laugh; they reminisce about his kindness and his willingness to help them in any way he could. Those who knew him will all tell you that he was a dearly loved Father Abbot.

    Jerome Oetgen, Ph.D.

    C‘69; S‘73; and Biographer for the Archabbots of Saint Vincent

  • Reflection 38 - Sept. 2, 2021: Excerpt from "The Idea of a University" - Saint John Henry Newman

    The beginning of a new academic year invites us to permit ourselves some quality leisure, to take a deep breath before the pressure is on, to refresh our appreciation of why we are here, and what we hope to engender in one another and in ourselves. Toward that end, we borrow the words of John Henry Newman, adapted from his classic work, The Idea of a University.

    The mark of an educated person is one who never inflicts pain, who is refined and accurate. One who is mainly occupied in removing the obstacles which hinder the free and unembarrassed action of others; with the benefits of an easy chair or a good fire, which do their part in dispelling cold and fatigue, though nature provides both means of rest and heat without them. The truly educated person in like manner carefully avoids whatever may cause a jar or a jolt in the minds of interlocutors, all clashing of opinion, or collision of feeling, all restraint, or suspicion, or gloom, or resentment; the great concern being to make everyone at ease and at home.

    The refined person has eyes on all companions; tender towards the bashful, gentle towards the distant, and merciful towards the absurd; guards against unseasonable allusions, or topics which may irritate; seldom prominent in conversation, and never wearisome, making light of favors while doing them, and acts as though receiving when conferring.

    The fine example of a human being has no ears for slander or gossip, is scrupulous in imputing motives to those who interfere with him, and interprets everything for the best, never mean or belittling in disputes, never taking unfair advantage, never mistakes personalities or sharp sayings for arguments. From a long-sighted prudence, the maxim of the ancient sage is observed, that we should ever conduct ourselves towards our enemy as if he were one day to be our friend, having too much good sense to be affronted at insults, and too well employed to remember injuries, and too indolent to bear malice. Such a person is patient and forbearing.

    When thrust into controversy of any kind, the disciplined intellect safeguards from the blundering discourtesy of better, perhaps, but less educated minds; who, like blunt weapons, tear and hack instead of cutting clean, who mistake the point in argument, waste their strength on trifles, misconceive their adversary, and leave the question more involved than they find it.

    Whether right or wrong in one’s own opinion, in such a person nowhere shall we find greater candor, consideration, indulgence: rigorously trying to understand the minds of opponents, allowing for their mistakes. An intelligent person knows the weakness of human reason as well as its strength, its province and its limits.

    The educated person will be too profound and large-minded to ridicule religion or to act against it; too wise to be a dogmatist or fanatic, supporting as venerable and beautiful those things which he personally does not espouse.

    Saint John Henry Newman (1801 – 1890)

  • Reflection 37 - Aug. 26, 2021: Br. Elliott C. Maloney, O.S.B.; S.T.L.; Ph.D.; C’68; S’72

    I have been a monk at Saint Vincent Archabbey for 56 years and I was a student at SVC before that. Over all those years, I have noticed something about the faculty, administrators and staff of the two schools and many departments of our institution. In a quiet way, not all, but almost everyone who works here, including the monks, just about anyone who stays around for more than a couple of years, well, they just have a certain spirit of loyalty to Saint Vincent about them. Many stay with us for their whole careers, passing over sometimes even more lucrative or higher-status jobs, but more than content with what is taking place on our campus. Oh, we complain a lot about just about everything, but that’s because we really care so much about what Saint Vincent is doing.

    I think all this has a lot to do with the Benedictine charism of Stability. Certainly, many of us Benedictines stay at the College and/or Seminary often in spite of broader or higher-level expertise that can’t be utilized in a small academic institution. But there is something about building and contributing to a solid tradition that takes years to accomplish, and a lot of unheralded hard work. Surprisingly, this dedication and stable workplace is not disagreeable most of the time. The sense of unity we feel comes about by working in common for a goal that transcends the here and now, and yet is firmly grounded in the here and now.

    Now, Saint Vincent has never been an overly pious kind of place, but this kind of language is in fact God talk. Yes, deep down I think we all unabashedly and very deeply consider God as the greater partner in the work we do. Each of us, in our own way, sees our combined work as in some way God-inspired as well as divinely guided and empowered. This goal of doing God’s will is crafted for the downright human engendering of all who come to us or look to us as a place where God is praised and the right thing is done. We celebrate the 175 years and feel privileged to be a part of them!

    Br. Elliott C. Maloney, O.S.B.; S.T.L.; Ph.D.; C’68; S’72

    Saint Vincent Seminary, Professor of New Testament and Biblical Languages

  • Reflection 36 - Aug. 19, 2021: Rev. Brian D. Boosel, OSB; Ph.D.; C’96; S’02

    Tuesday, August 24, represents the anniversary of the dedication of Saint Vincent Archabbey Basilica (1905). We offer thanks to God for those who were inspired to envision and bring into existence sacred architecture which would magnificently conduct the eyes and hearts of all who crossed its threshold to experience the joy of God’s presence, the forgiveness of their sins, and the hope of redemption unto life everlasting.

    Almighty God,

    to whose glory we celebrate the dedication of this house of prayer:

    We give you thanks for the fellowship of those who have worshiped in this place,

    and we pray that all who seek you here may find you,

    and be filled with your joy and peace;

    through Screen Shot 2021-08-17 at 10.12.26 AM Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you,

    in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, now and forever.


    (Collect for the Anniversary of the Dedication of a Church)


    Herewith is a reflection for our readers to enjoy, by Fr. Brian D. Boosel (on the occasion of the centenary of its dedication):

    Screen Shot 2021-08-17 at 10.12.26 AM “Saint Vincent Archabbey Basilica: One Hundred Years


    The Rev. Brian D. Boosel, OSB; Ph.D.; C’96; S’02

    Saint Vincent College, Assistant Professor of History

  • Reflection 35 - Aug. 12, 2021: Jerome Oetgen, Ph.D.

    Archabbot Denis Strittmatter (1896-1971)

    The sixth archabbot of Saint Vincent, Denis Strittmatter, was elected to succeed Archabbot Alfred Koch in 1949. A native of the town of Hastings in Cambria County, Pennsylvania, he had come to Saint Vincent at the age of 14 studied in the Prep School and College and entered the Novitiate in 1916. After studies in the Seminary at Saint Vincent, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1923 and served in several of Saint Vincent’s parishes in Western Pennsylvania until 1929 when he was appointed by Archabbot Alfred to Saint Emma’s Industrial and Agricultural Institute on the James River near Richmond, Virginia. Saint Emma’s was a school for African-American boys sponsored by the Archabbey, and Father Denis served first as assistant director and then as director of the Institute until 1947, when he returned to the abbey as director of maintenance. Two years later, he was elected archabbot.

    Under Archabbot Denis, Saint Vincent flourished and grew. Increased numbers of young men presented themselves as candidates for the Benedictine life and a postwar spirit of optimism about the future of the monastic community pervaded the house. By 1956 there were 272 members of the community, the highest number in Saint Vincent’s history up to that time. Enrollment in the Seminary more than doubled during his abbacy, and enrollment in the college increased by 20 percent. During this period, the Prep School also maintained a full enrollment and high academic quality, attracting students from Pennsylvania and nearby states.

    Archabbot Denis oversaw a building boom in the course of his 14-year abbacy, and the campus grew with the addition of Wimmer Hall, the Library, Carey [né Kennedy] Auditorium and Gymnasium, and Bonaventure and Gerard Halls.

    From 1953 to 1965, Archabbot Denis served as Abbot President of the American Cassinese Congregation of Benedictine Monasteries while continuing to serve as Archabbot of Saint Vincent. He was a Council Father at the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), where he represented the American Benedictines, and he initiated the process to establish Saint Vincent’s missions in Brazil and Taiwan.

    Archabbot Denis’s tenure as leader of Saint Vincent came to an end shortly after the disastrous fire of January 1963 that destroyed many of the buildings of the Archabbey and College. His health was declining, and the Holy See granted his request to step down from the abbacy.

    Archabbot Denis left for his successor a strong and vibrant community which entered the turbulent decade of the 1960s with optimism and hope. He lived in retirement for eight years and was regarded by the confreres as a gentle and beloved father who was never absent from the daily round of the Divine Office or any community function.

    Archabbot Denis is remembered by all who knew him as a good and faithful monk whose life embodied the Benedictine ideal of living, praying and working so that in all things God might be glorified.

    Jerome Oetgen, Ph.D.

    C’69; S’73; and Biographer for the Archabbots of Saint Vincent

  • Reflection 34 - Aug. 5, 2021: The Rev. Eugene F. Hemrick, Ph.D

    “To venture into the wilderness, one must see it, not as it is, but as it will be.”

    The quote by Carl Becker that adorns the Cox Corridor in the U.S. Capitol raises a captivating question: What did Boniface Wimmer envision when he determined to venture out to plant the Benedictine tradition on American soil? He faced immense obstacles to overcome in getting permission to achieve this, yet he persisted doggedly.

    I believe one driving force was the Benedictine tradition of education and desire to plant enriching ideas and knowledge in young minds, for as Ralph Waldo Emerson writes, “Plant a thought, reap an act. Plant an act, reap a habit. Plant a habit, reap a character. Plant a character, and reap a destiny.”

    Education starts with knowledge and ideas that John Henry Newman defines as “acquired illuminations.” In stressing education, Abbot Boniface Wimmer, Newman’s contemporary, provided light to guide a student’s life toward a joyful, virtuous destiny. Newman would add: “Not to know the relative disposition of things is the state of slaves or children.” Education, therefore, does not only provide illumination but wisdom, and especially freedom.

    The Rev. Eugene F. Hemrick, Ph.D.; author and friend of all things Benedictine Diocese of Joliet

    Catholic Syndicated Columnist, residing in Washington, DC, and serving at Saint Joseph’s on Capitol Hill

    Founding Director of the National Institute for the Renewal of the Priesthood

  • Reflection 33 - July 29, 2021: Kimberly (Stevens) Feigel, C’07

    “Saint Vincent, Saint Vincent
    Our Mother and our guide!
    To honor and love thee
    Shall ever be our pride!”

    When I think of Saint Vincent College, I am reminded that it truly is the cornerstone of my life.

    As a child, my family would often visit Saint Vincent for basketball games, family events, to fly a kite, or say hello to Br. Norman Hipps. Both my father (C’73) and grandfather (C’37) are Bearcats, so the tradition is strong in my family! I loved the welcoming environment, wide-open landscape, and vastness I felt when looking up at the Basilica from the steps.

    As a college student, Saint Vincent formed me into the person I am today. I learned the value of hard work and perseverance, compassion and charity, and how God would guide me through it all. No matter how busy the days were, daily Mass at the chapel was always a calm and fulfillment I could turn to and catch my breath, always leaving with a refreshed mindset of what was most important in life. I even met my husband, Matt (SVC ’08), for which I am ever grateful.

    Now, as mutual alumni of Saint Vincent, we have experienced some of life’s most significant moments on campus. From the joys of our wedding in 2012 and the baptisms of our four children in the years to follow to the sorrow of saying goodbye to my mom in 2018, we have shared laughter and tears but always felt comfort from the monks who are like family in this place that feels like home.

    Matt and I often reflect back on our lessons from those college days with our kids; the people we met, the values that were instilled, and the many memories we fondly hold. We love taking them to campus to enjoy the welcoming environment, wide-open landscape, and vastness they feel when looking up at the Basilica from the steps. However, when we look into their eyes and see that they are swept up with the special feeling that is Saint Vincent College, as well, that is the most fulfilling lesson of all.

    Kimberly (Stevens) Feigel, CPA; C’07

    Office Manager at Matthew J. Feigel, DMD LLC

  • Reflection 32 - July 15, 2021: Father Mario Fulgenzi, O.S.B.

    “The Gospel transcends every peculiarity of race or nation and therefore cannot be considered foreign anywhere or to anybody.” (Ad gentes § 1.8).

    Due to a common misunderstanding of our unique monastic vow of stability, many people are surprised to learn that the Benedictines have been, from the sixth century, a missionary order. In more recent times, when John XXIII was Pope, he made an appeal to religious congregations to send missionaries to Latin America to further the work of evangelization by sharing the Gospel in lands far and wide.

    In 1963, the monks of Saint Vincent responded to that appeal by preparing men for Brazil, to immerse themselves in the local culture and to become fluent in Portuguese. We accepted the invitation to establish a monastery in Vinhedo, São Paulo, Brazil, to continue a Benedictine presence there which reaches back to the year 1590. Since then, the monastery is flourishing with native Brazilian vocations, in gratitude to the grace of God, prayers, and support from the extended Saint Vincent community.

    At São Bento Priory, pastoral activity has formed and served 10 ecclesial communities. We have provided care for the infirm, while the religious education for lay leadership and youth ministry has grown. In our retreat house, marriage enrichment retreats are promoted. We hold workshops for religious educators, workshops on prayer, workshops on religious education for postulants and permanent enrichment for religious in vows, Cursillos and retreats in general.

    As we observe our 175th Anniversary, Saint Vincent can rejoice that the Benedictines have been faithful to Saint Benedict’s exhortation: “Ut in Omnibus Glorificetur Deus” (“that in all things God may be glorified”)! God’s summons is always a call to go beyond ourselves in love. God has created you and me today to offer Him some definite service in our time. In the words of a sixth century African homilist:

    “The disciples spoke in the language of every nation. At Pentecost God chose this means to indicate the presence of the Holy Spirit: whoever had received the Spirit spoke in every kind of tongue. We must realize, dear brothers, that this is the same Holy Spirit by whom love is poured out in our hearts. It was love that was to bring the Church of God together all over the world. And as individual men and women who received the Holy Spirit in those days could speak in all kinds of tongues, so today the Church, united by the Holy Spirit, speaks in the language of every people.”

    Fiquem com Deus!
    Father Mario Fulgenzi, O.S.B.
    Retired Prior of São Bento Priory, Vinhedo, Brazil

  • Reflection 31 - July 8, 2021: The Rt. Rev. Douglas, R. Nowicki, O.S.B., Ph.D.

    "Our responsibility is not for the past; our responsibility is for the future."

    The 175th anniversary of Saint Vincent marks the beginning of Abbot Boniface Wimmer’s mission to America. Convinced that the Benedictines were the best suited of all religious orders to undertake such a risky mission, Wimmer found support in King Ludwig I of Bavaria. With the hope of establishing the first Benedictine monastery in the New World, Wimmer inspired youthful co-workers to join in his mission to sow the seeds of faith in the New World.

    One hundred seventy-five years later, Saint Vincent serves thousands of faithful through its pastoral, educational and missionary apostolates in the United States and around the world. The great danger, however, in celebrating any anniversary is to focus on the past. As the late Father Demetrius Dumm reminded the Benedictine community on the occasion of its 150th anniversary, “Our responsibility is not for the past; our responsibility is for the future.”

    The mission of Boniface Wimmer is ultimately the mission of Jesus Christ – to help people understand the kingdom of God and to share eternal life. It is the responsibility of each generation to pass this wonderful message on to future generations.

    At 175, it is now our responsibility to be sure that those who come after us will have the opportunity to come to hear the word of Christ which we received from those who have gone before us. Finding the energy in the midst of the global pandemic may present a challenge, but Saint Paul reminds us that faith is not faith if its object is seen. None of us knows the future, but we do know that Christ is with us in every moment in life’s journey.

    It was Wimmer’s trust in Divine Providence that gave him the courage to begin his mission. Let us pray that the same Holy Spirit that inspired Wimmer 175 years ago will energize his followers today to move “Forward, Always Forward, Everywhere Forward.”

    The Rt. Rev. Douglas, R. Nowicki, O.S.B., Ph.D.
    Eleventh Archabbot of Saint Vincent

  • Reflection 30 - July 1, 2021: Jennifer Koehl, Ph. D.

    Speculatio Cum Devotione, Investigatio Cum Admiratione
    (“Knowledge with Devotion, Research with Wonder”)

    We began to speak about the new COVID virus in my Microbiology class in January of 2020. Now, close to a year and a half later, who could have known about the mental, emotional and physical toll? It was overwhelming to teach and learn online or in a hybrid mode while taking care of ourselves, each other, our students and our families. Although we cannot understand why, God has a plan.

    While we question a plan we did not create ourselves, we can see glimpses of answers sometimes. Earlier this month, while working in-person with my biology peers for the first time since March 2020, I was mentally, emotionally and physically rejuvenated; typically, I would take this interaction for granted since we see each other and work together frequently but at that meeting, the collaboration lifted me. The pandemic made me appreciate people more, it made me focus on the big picture and reminded me that God, above all, is great.

    Science and religion support one another as the Saint Vincent community has done for 175 years. I am honored to teach at a place that supports the growth of students (and faculty) to become well-rounded and blessed individuals incorporating both science and religion as part of the liberal arts education.

    Jennifer Koehl, Ph. D.
    Chair and Associate Professor of Biology

  • Reflection 29 - June 24, 2021: Fr. Paschal A. Morlino, O.S.B.

    Looking over my 61 years as a Benedictine, there have been many characteristics that have stood out to me and one of the hallmarks of the true Benedictine spirit is Hospitality.

    This has been expressed by the lives of so many of those whom I have known over the years. Not only the monks, but also the Benedictine Sisters who staffed our kitchens and dining rooms for so many years. They were an example of “seeing Christ in everyone we encounter.” They were able to bring a certain warmness and kindness to the people whom they served.

    They were a big influence in the formation of our younger monks who worked with them day in and day out in the monastic refectory. We monks have learned from them and have made it our aim to practice that true spirit of the Rule in so many ways over the years “the virtue of welcoming.”

    A virtue so utterly important in our present-day when there exist so many divisions and suspicions of others. The true spirit of Saint Benedict is exhibited through this hospitality towards our students, parishioners, alumni, visitors, and all those to whom we come in contact each day.

    Fr. Paschal A. Morlino, O.S.B.
    Pastor, Saint Benedict Church; Baltimore, Maryland
    Founder: Adelphoi – Vision to create a program to support the needs of children and families

  • Reflection 28 - June 17, 2021: Fr. Boniface P. Hicks, O.S.B., Ph.D.

    Father’s Day 2021

    Rod Dreher proposed “The Benedict Option” as a way to move forward in our challenging times. He described how the Rule of Saint Benedict provides the culture-changing wisdom that could create a leaven to transform our world from the ground up. In my own reflections, it seems to me that Saint Benedict actually promotes “The Joseph Option.” His wisdom for monasteries helps them to become another Nazareth where we live the lives of Mary and Joseph always in the presence of Jesus. In Nazareth, the Gospel principles were lived out in such an unremarkable way that the locals were shocked when Jesus declared himself to be the Messiah (cf. Luke 4). And yet the Gospel principles were lived out in such a powerful way that God himself was always fully present, and it became the starting place of a new creation.

    We can see the connections of Benedict and Nazareth in several ways. A Benedictine monastery is founded on the vow of stability so that the collective holiness from living out God’s will steadily permeates the place and it becomes an oasis of peace for visitors. I like to imagine that Nazareth was quite a peaceful place to visit and that the Holy Family was a wonderful model of hospitality in the decades they dwelt there. In a Benedictine monastery, the keynote is found in chapter 19 of the Rule: “We believe that the divine presence is everywhere . . .” and the orientation of everything in the monastery fosters greater awareness of that fact. In Nazareth, Mary and Joseph helped each other remember that their little boy was the Incarnate Word of God and they did everything in the divine presence. Saint Benedict described the monastery as a “school for the Lord’s service” (RB Prologue 45) and Pope Saint Paul VI described Nazareth as “the school in which we begin to understand the life of Jesus. It is the school of the Gospel” (Homily 5 January 1964 in Nazareth).

    At Saint Vincent, we have another Nazareth where countless people have come in the last 175 years to enter into the divine presence. In the peace that comes from the first moments on the grounds to encounters with the various residents and finding a high point in the Basilica and the liturgy, hearts are changed, love grows, the Gospel is internalized and our world is improved a little bit at a time. It is providential that the Year of Saint Joseph coincides with our 175th anniversary. As we approach Father’s Day let us invoke our fathers Saint Joseph and Saint Benedict to help us foster another Nazareth and bring Jesus more tangibly into our world, so that “in all things God may be glorified!” (Rule 57:9; based on 1 Peter 4:11).


    Fr. Boniface P. Hicks, O.S.B., Ph.D.; Seminary ’04

    Author: “Through the Heart of Saint Joseph” (2021)

    Spiritual Director Saint Vincent Seminary

    Manager and Host of We Are One Body® radio


    Prayer from Patris Corde

    Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,

    Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

    To you God entrusted his only Son;

    in you Mary placed her trust;

    with you Christ became man.

    Blessed Joseph, to us too,

    show yourself a father

    and guide us in the path of life.

    Obtain for us grace, mercy and courage,

    And defend us from every evil.


  • Reflection 27 - June 10, 2021: Jerome Oetgen, Ph.D., SVC ’69; SVS ’73

    Archabbot Alfred Koch, O.S.B. (1879-1951)

    Alfred Koch was the fifth archabbot of Saint Vincent. He spent the first 12 years of his priesthood as a member of the Society of the Divine Word, a missionary order. In 1916, at the age of 36, he entered the Benedictine novitiate at Saint Vincent and was professed as a monk of the archabbey the following year. For the next 13 years, he taught sacred scripture, exegesis and homiletics in Saint Vincent Seminary and served as the seminary’s prefect and spiritual director.

    Father Alfred was an affable yet demanding professor, administrator and spiritual guide. His approachable personality, together with his clear vision, spiritual depth and decisiveness, made him a popular teacher and spiritual adviser. Unlike the previous three archabbots, he had not come to Saint Vincent in his youth nor had he been nurtured in the archabbey’s schools. His experience in the community’s apostolates was limited to the seminary, and his relatively recent profession made him junior to all the monks his age and to many of those younger than he. He was considered a newcomer by some and an outsider by a few. But his easy manner, natural brilliance and palpable holiness marked him as a leader and eventually won the confidence of the entire community.

    Upon the sudden death of Archabbot Aurelius, the monks elected Father Alfred their archabbot. He shepherded Saint Vincent through the traumatic aftermath of the first China mission and led the archabbey and schools safely through the threat of bankruptcy, the Depression, and World War II. He oversaw a trying period of retrenchment and belt-tightening and then led the community’s successful financial recovery. Under him Saint Vincent joyfully celebrated the 100th anniversary of its founding in 1946.

    Archabbot Alfred became ill and stepped down from the abbacy in 1949, turning the leadership over to his successor, Archabbot Denis Strittmatter. In retirement, he remained, as he had always been, beloved of all the monks in the community. Remembering him many years after his death, one of the senior members of the community, who had been a novice when Alfred Koch was archabbot, said of him, “We all loved Archabbot Alfred. He was a beautiful human being, an ideal Benedictine, a true father for all of us.” A humble and faithful monk, he lived his life so that in all things God might be glorified.

    Jerome Oetgen, Ph.D.

    C’69, S’73, and Biographer for the Archabbots of Saint Vincent

  • Reflection 26 - June 3, 2021: Fr. Ananias G. Buccicone, O.S.B.; C ‘88; S ‘93

    Cherished Memories on the Feast of Corpus Christi (2021)

    Back in the Summer of 2017 an article entitled Saint Vincent Bread Tradition Alive in Patton was slated to be published (See Heart to Heart, p. 18). I warned my secretary of the impending tsunami of phone calls and emails that were looming on the horizon. Sure enough, the article went to press and the inquiries, began. Could they “pick up three loaves on Tuesday?” Would you “be kind enough to mail a loaf to Wyoming?” “Can you send it just like they did in the old days wrapped in butchers’ paper and tied with twine?”

    Just why is it that this very ordinary monastic mixture of flour, water, salt, yeast and vital wheat gluten causes such a flood of memories, conjures such complex emotions, induces such impassioned reactions in those who hold Saint Vincent dear?

    Maybe it’s because that particular bread represents the hard work of the monks who tilled and planted, harvested and ground. Maybe it’s the drops of sweat dripping like dew from heaven from the bakers’ brow anointing the manna as they pulled 80, 8-pound loaves from the cavernous ovens. Maybe it’s the memory of “Sister Bread” who plated a day-old slab of stale bread, maternally slathering it with gravy in order to create a palatable portion of “Saint Vincent Steak” for some Scholastic or Prepster. Maybe it’s the memory of countless thousands of down-and-outs who presented themselves in Abbey bread lines and who found in those crusts both sustenance and hope. Is it any wonder that Jesus compared the kingdom of God to a woman baking bread (Matt 13:33; Luke 13:20-21)?

    Whatever the reason, bread, all bread, has always elicited feelings of home and hearth and the mystique of Saint Vincent Bread is no exception. Mythologized, even modernized after the loss of the ovens in the great fire, it makes little difference. Bread is life sustaining, pure and simple. Jesus knew that. That’s why He used that! “On the night he was betrayed, he took bread, and gave you thanks” (Eucharistic Prayer, from the Roman Missal).

    Those who bake bread will tell you that there is something deeply satisfying about employing an ancient tradition in these present days to create, as Peter Reinhart says in Brother Juniper’s Bread Book, “a modern incarnation of a metaphor for goodness.”

    I believe Saint Vincent Bread is nothing more and nothing less than a tangible reminder that a handful of monastics came to a foreign land in order to pray and work and be leaven in the Kingdom by rising above and far beyond the confines of the Enclosure in order to feed any, all and every hungry soul with bread – whether it’s fashioned with flour, water, salt and yeast or charity, self-sacrifice and service. It only matters that “in all things God may be glorified.”

    Those latter ingredients mixed, combined, kneaded, formed and raised should elicit just as passionate a response in those who hunger in their souls. Once nourished may their renewed life allow them to do good in the Name of Christ. After all, a little leaven goes a long way. So . . . believe it or not, it is possible to feed the hungry masses Saint Vincent “bread,” even though the ovens are no more.
    ℣. You have given them bread from heaven.
    ℟. Having all sweetness within it!
    (The Rite of Benediction)
    Fr. Ananias G. Buccicone, O.S.B.; SVC ‘88; Seminary ‘93
    Pastor, Our Lady Queen of Peace; Patton, PA 

  • Reflection 25 - May 27, 2021: Richard Schulte, P’64, C’68

    For Memorial Day 2021

    It was smaller then
    You’d pass the Library
    And the old stadium.
    When the weather was good
    And there was time before study hall,
    Scholastics would walk around the cemetery
    After breakfast.

    His head shot off!
    Wimmer had sent the College’s Math teacher
    To serve the people of God
    In Kentucky and Tennessee.
    So Emmeran Bliemel, O.S.B.
    10th Tennessee Infantry Regiment
    (Veterans care about the unit or the ship.)
    Died anointing the dying
    Battle of Jonesboro.

    Will there be a Confederate flag (gasp!)
    In Tuscumbia, Colbert County, Alabama,
    Holy Cross Cemetery, on Memorial Day?
    Yes! Frater Colman told us as we walked.
    For Fr. Emmeran.

    Sometimes, later, in the afternoon,
    A Pater and an Ave having been said,
    Willy and I would pluck a rose
    Unopened and fresh
    From the pile on some new grave.
    It would live with us
    A day or two longer!

    It’s a long walk now.
    I like especially among the crosses
    When the little flags have been posted
    On some monks’ graves
    On Colman’s and Archabbot Paul’s
    Mass at the Mausoleum now
    Some comfort in the old rites
    And the Archabbot presiding.

    But the numbers
    The numbers intrude.
    What pain or demon or memory
    Or loss of Hope
    Causes the suicides,
    Veterans who will not feel
    The soft breezes of May
    Wafting of viburnum and lilac
    And the first of the roses
    On Memorial Days?

    Rest in peace now, brothers and sisters!

    Richard Schulte P’64 C’68
    SP5, 2/9 Infantry MANCHU, 1969-70
    “Keep Up the Fire!”

  • Reflection 24 - May 13, 2021: The Very Rev. David Badu Ho, O.S.B.

    As Saint Vincent marks its 175th anniversary, previously, Br. Nicholas Koss laid out how the Benedictines of Saint Vincent were pressed into service by Pope Pius XI, by founding Fu Jen Catholic University in China in 1925, but how later circumstances required it to be reestablished in Taiwan. Today, I would like to reflect on the present Taiwan apostolate’s 60-year anniversary, and to share my gratitude and hope for the future.

    God has been very good to us in recent years, as we have been blessed to receive new members to join our community. A decade or more after my own priesthood ordination as a native of Taiwan, now Fr. Luke Shu, very recently ordained, is now our second native missionary priest. In addition, Fr. Augustine Yang and Br. Andrew Kim took profession as monks at Saint Vincent Archabbey in 2018 and are now members of Wimmer Priory. In my opinion, we are now living through an important period of transition.

    At the invitation of the Holy See, Saint Vincent monks went to China in the 1920s to open a Catholic university as a mission apostolate in their time, only to have Fu Jen Catholic University reestablished in Taiwan, where, 60 years later, its educational mission continues to nurture countless young students.

    Historically, Saint Vincent put a lot of focus understandably on the China mission, but somewhat less attention to the evangelization here in Taiwan. Thanks be to God, the Holy Spirit has brought the flowering stage of localization in Taiwan, and we are witnessing much good fruit. From the educational mission work of Fu Jen Catholic University, we have expanded outreach to the wider Catholic community, assisting at local parish Masses, cooperating with diocesan initiatives, teaching in many other Catholic or non-Catholic schools and more.

    Saint Paul said: “To the Jews I became like a Jew to win over Jews; to those under the law I became like one under the law—though I myself am not under the law—to win over those under the law. To those outside the law I became like one outside the law—though I am not outside God’s law but within the law of Christ—to win over those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak. I have become all things to all, to save at least some. All this I do for the sake of the gospel, so that I too may share in its blessings” (1 Corinthians 9:20–23).

    My hope for the future of our mission to Taiwan:

    • For God’s blessing on our efforts in evangelization and faithful inculturation of the Gospel of Jesus.
    • I pray that God will attract more Christ-like partners to join us.
    • At the same time, to work closely with the local dioceses for the mission of evangelization more extensively and comprehensively to everyone, including the indigenous tribal peoples of Taiwan who are especially close to my heart.
    • Hope that we will become a deeply rooted local religious group, in the esteemed tradition of the vow of stability according to our Holy Father Saint Benedict.
    • For the continued generous support from the Motherhouse, most especially in prayer, but also our renovation project and preparation for the celebration for the 60-year anniversary of our Taiwanese Mission.

    I am filled with optimism that our community in the future will continue to draw young fellow missionaries to complete their formation and to be vibrant contributors to our apostolate. Our Benedictine community in Taiwan is happy to be committed to the Gospel of Jesus and the vast treasures of our Catholic faith.

    The Very Rev. David Badu Ho, O.S.B., Prior
    SVC ’03
    Wimmer Priory, Taipei City, Taiwan
    Cardinal Tien College: Campus Minister and Director of Indigenous Student Resource Center
  • Reflection 23 - April 29, 2021: James Bendel, C'60

    Although associated with the Benedictines for virtually my entire life in different ways, only recently have I thought about the vow of Stability that is one of the hallmarks of their lifetime commitment. Previously, my view was very superficial as it appeared to be just associated with the creation of new abbeys or priories.

    Looking back on my lifetime journey, I now see how that modeling by the Benedictines has impacted all of us who have been associated with these monks.

    That vow of Stability goes way beyond geography or buildings. Observing the lives of these men as they carry out their commitment to the respective missions has impacted every person associated with them.

    Is it by accident that in my life there is a deep connection to family, helping others or serving our country in the Navy? No! The role models to set that tone have been right there for all of us.

    Alumni and friends of Saint Vincent have observed that vow of Stability in the lives of the Benedictines. Each of you have made a difference in this we have learned to create our own lifetime missions of Stability!

    James Bendel, C’60
    Director of Planned Giving
    Saint Vincent College
  • Reflection 22 - April 22, 2021: Jessica A. Morrell, C ‘04

    One can glorify God in a wide variety of ways, and during my time at Saint Vincent, I was honored to witness the Benedictine Community living out their charism and mission with the uniqueness of the Saint Vincent Fire Department (SVFD).

    Founded by the late Br. Patrick Lacey, O.S.B., following the devastating fire on campus in 1963, the SVFD has provided students, staff and Benedictines an opportunity to be there for others in a tangible way. The end of the spring semester conjures up unforgettable memories of the annual “Fire School” which used to bring together numerous area fire departments to sharpen discipline and keep up to date.

    I joined the SVFD eager, but not really knowing what I was getting into. It was then I met a few people who would change my life: Br. Pat, Fr. Joe Adams, O.S.B., and Terry Noel. These three men exemplify in every way what it means to be a part of the Benedictine Community at Saint Vincent, not only what it means to be a firefighter, but what it means to glorify God in service to others.

    The SVFD taught us so much more than how to put out a fire; it taught us how to be a team, how to trust and how to work hard. Most Fridays, the firefighters enjoyed dinner together and then went to the fire station to test and run the tools and apparatus.

    When we finished there, I often trekked up to the monastery infirmary to play cards with Br. Pat. It was during those card games Br. Pat would share some of the best stories about the Steelers, making floats for parades, and most importantly, he would remind me that “Big G” (God) should always be first in my life. Then, before I would leave, we would put a new flower arrangement in front of the Mary statue in the Chapel. Sometimes (hush, hush!), he would smuggle some pony bottles of Rolling Rock out the door to share with the other firefighters.

    Another thing I carry with me every day is my favorite expression from Fr. Joe Adams: “God willing.” He said it often whether he was braving the officer seat while I drove a firetruck, or me worrying about an exam. It remains a humble and helpful reminder to glorify God in all we do.

    Furthermore, Terry Noel serves as a Godly and loving example of a husband, father, and mentor. He exemplifies what it means to serve others and to “ora et labora,” not only through his dedicated service to the SVFD, but the genuine and loving way he leads by example and his never-ending patience (even when I lost the nozzle of the firehose on my first day and almost decapitated him!).

    The SVFD was my second family. It strengthened my faith, taught me how to be a servant leader and how to truly live out the Benedictine motto of Ora et Labora (Pray and Work). Forever I will be grateful for the impact of the Benedictines in my life, and I know my fellow SVFD firefighter alumni feel the same.

    Thank you, Br. Pat, Fr. Joe and Terry!

    Jessica A. Morrell
    SVC ‘04
    Associate Director of Campus Ministry, Immaculata University; Immaculata, PA
    Firefighter/ EMT, Valley Forge and Swedesburg Volunteer Fire Companies

    Prayer of Protection

    Lord God of never-failing kindness, hear our prayers for all first responders, EMTs and firefighters, law enforcement officers and all military personnel.

    We look up to them and thank you for the inspiration you have placed in their hearts to be foremost models of men and women for others.

    Give them confident hands, and bless their every effort to restore peace, good health and safety for us all.

    In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
  • Reflection 21 - April 15, 2021: Donna Werner

    I have been at Saint Vincent for thirty-plus years

    And I have shared many a beer.

    I started in as a young one when my mind was new

    And now I am someone with a view.

    I have become friends with students, monks, faculty, and staff

    We all have had many a laugh.

    I love my job, sometimes it can be trying

    But I always will keep flying.

    My family grew up here and it means a lot

    To see the love that is fought.

    When I look over the horizon, I see the rolling mountains

    When I look over campus, I see the flowing fountains.

    The beauty of Saint Vincent will always be in my heart

    Because this is where I got my start.

    Donna Werner


    Saint Vincent Post Office

  • Reflection 20 - April 8, 2021: Jerome Oetgen, Ph.D., SVC ’69; SVS ’73

    Archabbot Aurelius Stehle (1877-1930)

    Father Aurelius Stehle was a brilliant theologian, liturgist and Latinist at a time when all students at Saint Vincent had to learn Latin. He held doctorates from Rome and the University of Notre Dame and served as rector of the seminary and liturgist of the archabbey before being elected fourth archabbot in 1918. His election marked the beginning of a new era in the history of Saint Vincent. He was the first archabbot not to have been educated by Boniface Wimmer and the first to have been born in the United States. He was also, at 41, the youngest.

    Archabbot Aurelius became leader of the community at a time when the First World War was coming to an end and when Saint Vincent, like the rest of America, was about to embark on a dynamic and outward-looking engagement with the world at large. Just as the United States emerged from the war with a clearer awareness of its global responsibilities and its new international role, so Saint Vincent, under Archabbot Aurelius, entered the 1920s with a deeper commitment to its missionary heritage, even beyond the continental United States.

    It was he who led Saint Vincent to China and established the Catholic University of Peking. That university’s eventful history continues into the 21st century in the Republic of China, supported by the monks of Saint Vincent at Wimmer Priory in Taiwan. Archabbot Aurelius’ entire life was devoted to the Benedictine ideal of praying and working so that in all things God might be glorified.

    Jerome Oetgen, Ph.D.

    SVC ‘69; SVS ‘73; and Biographer for the Archabbots of Saint Vincent
  • Reflection 19 - April 1, 2021: Archabbot Martin de Porres Bartel, O.S.B.

    When Saint Vincent was only 80 years old, Ernest Hemingway wrote a little known, four-page play, entitled Today is Friday. It takes place late the night of Jesus’ crucifixion. Three Roman soldiers are in a bar drinking away the stresses of a long, brutal day of torture and death. The third soldier is sick and rueful. He complains about something being wrong with his stomach. It is clear something has gotten to him. The second soldier tries to make him feel better by minimizing what has happened and by running down the victim as nobody special. But the first soldier refuses to go along. The second soldier mocks the crucified man by saying it was obvious he was a fraud because he couldn’t come down off the cross. But the first says, “He didn’t want to come down from the cross. It wasn’t his play.” The first soldier goes on to recount in a somewhat tragic and admiring fashion, “He was pretty good in there today.”

    The soldiers continue their discussion with the first soldier reiterating his phrase, "He was pretty good in there today" as though speaking of a prizefighter or some other athlete. The third agrees that he "was all right." Several more times, like a mantra, we hear, “He was pretty good in there today.”

    Friday of this week is termed "Good Friday." On one hand that may seem odd because it certainly wasn’t a GOOD day for Jesus. We call today "Good Friday" because the cross is proof of the powerful love that God has for each of us. Here we see a love that was prepared to endure the ultimate in order to rescue us. He “was pretty good in there” that day. And truly God was glorified.

    On Feb. 19, 1846, recruiting student monks for his expedition from Germany to western Pennsylvania, Abbot Boniface Wimmer explained:

    "I do not know the future. I only show you the Cross. If you take it upon your shoulders, very well. Do not, however, complain afterward, when from time to time you feel its weight. Jesus said to his apostles, “Behold, I have told you beforehand,” and “Behold, I send you as lambs among the wolves.” If you are frightened when you hear their howling and see their gnashing teeth, then stay at home. If, with the grace of God, you have not the courage to do and suffer these things for Him, to go wherever obedience requires, to allow yourselves to be used as willing tools, then do not enter the monastery."

    Now, 175 years later, we can say that truly God was glorified that day, too.

    The Rt. Rev. Martin de Porres Bartel, O.S.B.

    Twelfth Archabbot of Saint Vincent
  • Reflection 18 - March 25, 2021: J. Christopher Donahue

    Saint Vincent College is surely one of Wimmer’s best winners. The College mission had sustainability baked into it from the outset. It is the unique Benedictine strength to be able to look back on heritage and forward for accomplishment.

    Take Aurelius Hall, named for my wife’s great uncle, as an example. Aurelius was Archabbot almost 100 years ago. Now, Aurelius Hall houses classrooms and residence rooms for our current and future generations of students; and it is connected to the admission offices, where the staff are working hard to build the class of 2025.

    I first visited Saint Vincent as an 11-year-old on retreat with my father and grandfather in the pre-Steelers training camp days. Almost five decades later, my son graduated (C’08). In this time, take a moment to think of all the souls formed and to be formed at Saint Vincent College – and appreciate this gift in our lives.

    Gratitude abounds.

    J. Christopher Donahue

    Chair, Saint Vincent College Board of Directors
  • Reflection 17 - March 18, 2021: Most Rev. Edward C. Malesic, J.C.L.

    God calls us to community since we are made in God’s image, a Trinity of love. However, for us, community is not as easy as it is for God! But God has a way of using community to teach us how to love. Those around us train us to be patient, to be kind, to be compassionate and forgiving, to take care of the neighbor in need and to love as we have been loved by God.

    Saint Benedict called together a band of brothers and gave them a way to live in ordered peace and Christian harmony with each other. At the same time, he encouraged them to develop their relationship with God. Interestingly, as each Benedictine community matured, so often the surrounding areas benefited from it as well. Entire towns and villages grew up near monasteries to have access to the spiritual and temporal goods found at each of them.

    The Benedictine monks of Saint Vincent Archabbey arrived at Latrobe in 1846. Their prayer and good works have also benefitted Western Pennsylvania and beyond in many ways. From instructing students at their college, forming men for ministry in their seminary, being a place of spiritual growth for pilgrims and retreatants, pastoring parishes both near and far, and in a variety of other ways, we have all benefitted from their presence among us. We have been strengthened by those Benedictine monks who live in community, helping us by their prayers, serving us with their good works and inspiring us by their life in community.

    May we use their example to live in peace and harmony with each other in our own families, parishes and communities, devoting ourselves to our Lord Jesus with constant prayer and good works. The Benedictine spirit is found nearly everywhere in Western Pennsylvania and beyond – our hope is that it will never be lost.

    Most Rev. Edward C. Malesic, J.C.L.
    Bishop of Cleveland
    (Former Bishop of Greensburg)
  • Reflection 16 - March 11, 2021: Lee Ann R. Ross

    For the last 45 years, I have worked and been supported by members of the Saint Vincent Community. Countless mornings have started with greetings and smiling faces. I have seen generations of students growing and learning throughout their years here at Saint Vincent College -- every one of them upheld by the true spirit of the school, a balance between faith and friendship for all.

    The Saint Vincent Community thrives on building each other up and helping support those in need. I believe that without God and the core Benedictine values, we would not have the loving family we have today. Although I was not here for the full 175 years, I know there has been nothing more important than a knowledge in faith -- a faith which guides morality and a desire to be better. And that faith in the community is the true reason Saint Vincent College has been able to make it to its 175th anniversary.

    Lee Ann R. Ross


    Saint Vincent Mailing and Duplicating Office
  • Reflection 15 - March 4, 2021: Jerome Oetgen, Ph.D., SVC ’69; SVS ’73

    Archabbot Leander Schnerr, O.S.B. (1836-1920)

    Like his predecessors Boniface Wimmer and Andrew Hintenach, Archabbot Leander Schnerr, Saint Vincent’s third archabbot, was an immigrant. He and his family came from Germany in the 1840s. He arrived at Saint Vincent in 1850 as a boy of 14, entered the novitiate, completed studies in the college and seminary, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1859. Except for a brief period in the 1860s when he served on the faculty of Assumption College in Sandwich, Ontario, (one of Saint Vincent’s early apostolates), he spent his entire priestly life before becoming abbot laboring as curate and pastor of Saint Vincent’s parishes in Newark, Covington, Chicago, Erie and Pittsburgh.

    A prototypical “parish father” among the Saint Vincent monks, he was precisely the kind of leader the other parish fathers longed for: an active and competent administrator, pastoral, affable, practical and outgoing, who enjoyed dealing with the nuts and bolts of managing a large and vibrant enterprise. As his contemporary, Father Louis Haas, noted: “The executive ability he displayed in the administration of parish affairs, temporal as well as spiritual, coupled with his engaging qualities of heart and mind, made him the choice of his brethren to rule the community and augured well for the future of Saint Vincent.”

    Archabbot Leander led Saint Vincent for 26 years. He oversaw completion of the Archabbey Basilica; increased the ethnic diversity of the college by including the children not only of German and Irish immigrants, but of Polish, Slovak, Czech, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Italian and Cuban immigrants as well; strengthened the academic quality of the seminary, college and prep school; established new parishes and monasteries; raised Saint Vincent’s missions in Cullman, Alabama and Peru, Illinois, to the rank of abbeys; and safely guided Saint Vincent through the shoals of World War I and the “Spanish” influenza pandemic of 1918. All this, while suffering frequent bouts of severe illness himself.

    A good and holy man, an inspiring leader, a devoted father of the Saint Vincent community, Archabbot Leander worked tirelessly throughout his life that in all things God might be glorified.

    Jerome Oetgen, Ph.D.

    SVC ‘69; SVS ‘73; and Biographer for the Archabbots of Saint Vincent
  • Reflection 14 - Feb. 25, 2021: Mother Mary Anne Noll, O.S.B., Prioress at Saint Emma Monastery

    Ninety years ago today, on the feast of Saint Walburga, Feb. 25, 1931, Mother Leonarda Fritz O.S.B. and nine Sisters arrived at Saint Vincent Archabbey and College, Latrobe, Pennsylvania to begin their 56 years of ministry of cooking and serving in the various dining rooms. Several times I heard the late Archabbot Egbert Donovan, O.S.B., describe how as a Prep School senior, he asked when the Sisters were coming and watched them step foot into Saint Vincent’s heart. Every year Archabbot Egbert remembered their anniversary and told me what a difference the Sisters made at Saint Vincent.

    By 1939 the Sisters numbered 40. Why did the Sisters come? For a reason with which many people can identify: to earn money! They came to earn money to support the Benedictine Sisters in their motherhouse, Abtei Sankt Walburg, Eichstätt, Germany, where vocations were flourishing, inflation was out of control and Hitler was on the horizon.

    As the first women on campus, our Sisters added the first feminine expression of “glorifying God in all things” (Rule of Saint Benedict 57:9; based on 1 Peter 4:11). The Sisters offered hospitality in the way they cooked and served in the various dining rooms.

    Most of you who attended Saint Vincent from 1931 – 1987 have stories about “Mother Bearcat” (Mother Leonarda) or “Sister Potatoes,” or “Sister only-one.” Many students, seminarians – yes, and monks – heard the Sisters call them, Spitzbuben! The Sisters’ tone of voice added to the English equivalent of “rascal!” The monks during those decades remember how the Sisters welcomed their guests and made their Vow days and Ordination days special.

    In the brochure which accompanied the Founders' Day art exhibit in 1989, the late Brother Nathan Cochran, O.S.B. aptly summarized the indelible mark that the Sisters left on the communities at Saint Vincent:
    They came with the gifts of youth: vibrancy, enthusiasm and first fervor. Time and grace matured these gifts into steadfastness, dedication and true service. Whenever they dished out meat, poured coffee, baked cakes, washed dishes, dropped buns from balconies or decorated Christmas cribs, they gave us the feeling of family, home, rootedness and sisterly (and sometimes motherly) love. Their gentleness rubbed off on us so that we have become a little more gentle. Yet they also taught us perseverance, because who but dedicated and God-seeking individuals can smile and serve people for more than 50 years?

    In the Saint Vincent Review in 2002, Fr. Donald Raila, O.S.B., wrote an article, “The Sisters of Saint Benedict – Earnest in prayer and mighty in their labor of love.” Another monk asks, “Who can ever forget the colorful Bavarian flower boxes which adorned their windowsills spring, summer and fall?” (The nuns resided in what are now the faculty offices in Placid Hall.)

    Having entered our Community in 1962, I have the great blessing of knowing all but five of our founding Sisters; these five all died under the age of 53 and are buried in Saint Vincent cemetery. As the first American Prioress elected in 1993, it was so humbling to hear the twenty-three original Sisters address me as “Mother” on the very first day of my election. “Well, that is what we are supposed to do,” said Sr. Gaudentia who worked in the monastic refectory for 53 years and died at age 98; “after all, you are now our superior.” Our founding Sisters never gave conferences but were amazing teachers in this “School of the Lord’s service” (Rule, Prologue, 45), one of the names Benedict gives to a monastery.

    Vergelt’s Gott (May God reward you), Um Jesu Willen (for Jesus’ sake), and Rosenkranz beten (to pray the rosary) sprinkled their speech. After a day especially filled with work, Sr. Walburga spoke about offering it up and putting “another bag” into heaven.

    We nuns at Saint Emma Monastery in nearby Greensburg, strive to continue this legacy of being “earnest in prayer and mighty in our labor of love.” We invite you to check out our website listed below to follow the legacy that our founding Sisters gave us and how we live it today so it becomes our future as well.

    Mother Mary Anne Noll, O.S.B.; Prioress
    Saint Emma Monastery
    Greensburg, Pennsylvania

    For more information on the history of these Benedictine nuns, read our Benedictine Touchstone at this website to watch our YouTube, follow us on Facebook for our reflections, and check the calendar for upcoming events.
  • Reflection 13 - Feb. 18, 2021: Ishmael Solomon, C’15, G’17

    While reflecting on the theme “That in all things God may be glorified,” all I can think about are the talented men and women who work for this institution. As a Saint Vincent College graduate, I have always been amazed at how much employees sacrificed to see former students like me succeed. We entered a fall semester full of challenges presented by the COVID-19 virus. Once again, I was amazed to witness the school’s talented community execute the college’s plan to successfully navigate the challenging first semester. While I thank the Lord for this amazing feat, I would also like to thank the people of Saint Vincent College.

    Ishmael Solomon, C’15, G’17
    Associate Director of Residence Life and Student Conduct
  • Reflection 12 - Feb. 11, 2021: Br. Nicholas Koss, O.S.B.; SVC ’66; Ph.D.

    In the early 1920s, Saint Vincent Archabbey, upon the request of the Vatican, explored the possibility of opening a university in Beijing, China. The first Saint Vincent monks were then sent to Beijing in 1924, and in 1925 the university was opened. 2025 will be the 100th anniversary of the founding of Fu Jen University. Even though the Benedictines had to leave the university in 1933 because of severe financial difficulties, they will be remembered for all they did at that time during the 100th anniversary celebrations.

    After the Chinese Communists took control of China and Fu Jen University was closed, it was re-established in Taiwan in 1961. Saint Vincent Archabbey was closely involved with the re-establishment of the university, and since the early 1960s has been sending monks to Wimmer Priory in Taipei to assist with the teaching at Fu Jen University. 2021 will be the 60th anniversary of the re-establishment of Fu Jen University. At that time, Fr. Hugh Wilt, O.S.B., Fr. John Murtha, O.S.B., Fr. Claude Pollak, O.S.B., Fr. Paul Maher and other Saint Vincent monks will be honored for their contributions to making Fu Jen University one of the leading Catholic universities in Asia. Wimmer Priory is currently developing with local Taiwanese joining the community.

    (And best wishes for much happiness to all of our Asian friends of Saint Vincent, on the Lunar New Year, Feb. 12, 2021!)

    Br. Nicholas Koss, O.S.B.; SVC ’66; Ph.D.
  • Reflection 11 - Feb. 4, 2021: Jerome Oetgen, Ph.D., SVC ’69; SVS ’73

    Each of the twelve archabbots of Saint Vincent has contributed something unique to the community. The second archabbot, Andrew Hintenach, was a gentle father beloved by all. His contribution was a contemplative spirit of prayer and devotion.

    Archabbot Andrew led Saint Vincent for only four years (1888-1892), but in that short time he accomplished much. He initiated construction of the Archabbey Basilica, oversaw “Americanization” of the monastery and schools, and contributed substantially to the advancement of the prep school, college, and seminary.

    His greatest contribution, however, was the spiritual renewal he initiated at Saint Vincent, a renewal that reawakened the spirit of prayer and devotion among monks and students alike.

    Archabbot Andrew was a humble and holy man who knew his limits. Believing the community needed more dynamic leadership than he felt able to give, he asked to be relieved of the abbacy. When the Holy See agreed, he handed authority over to another and returned to his role in the community as a simple monk. For the next thirty-five years, he continued to influence and inspire by his prayerful contemplation and humble work, ut in omnibus glorificetur Deus (“that in all things God may be glorified”).

    Jerome Oetgen, Ph.D.

    SVC ‘69; SVS ‘73; and Biographer for the Archabbots of Saint Vincent
  • Reflection 10 - Jan. 28, 2021: Fr. Warren D. Murrman, O.S.B.

    When the fire alarm began to sound about 8:20 on the frigid morning of Jan. 28, 1963, it was a call to attention and a summons to action, not only on that day but for the succeeding era at Saint Vincent. The Great Saint Vincent Fire of 1963 destroyed the old Students’ Chapel (parish church, 1835-1905), most of the monastery, a large portion of the high school and some of the college facilities. In many ways, the fire marked a point of transition from much of the past and a passage into the future.

    The fire called forth the need and the opportunity for the Benedictine community to re-envision its monastic calling, its ecclesial understanding and the commitment to its apostolic works. It was Divine Providence that the fire occurred during the Second Vatican Council, for the power of that renewing event helped the community to face the challenges of the process of physical, emotional and spiritual evolution into the future. As is often true at times of apparent great loss, it may be said that the experience of the Great Fire was that of a springtime passage from ashes to new birth.

    Fr. Warren D. Murrman, O.S.B.; Doctor of Sacred Theology
    Professor of Liturgy
    Saint Vincent Seminary
  • Reflection 9 - Jan. 20, 2021: Jerome C. Foss, Ph.D.

    The great crack of the Liberty Bell came about in the year 1846. News of it must have been ominous, for it was a difficult year:

    • California declared independence from Mexico, and Texas was annexed to the United States. These events triggered a war that had been brewing between Mexico and America.

    • In the U.S. House of Representatives, a young Whig named Abraham Lincoln challenged President Polk’s defense of the war, claiming it was based on false reports.

    • Frederick Douglas saw the war as an attempt to further the interests of slave-holding states; he trembled thinking about the future of his country.

    • The world was battling the third wave of a horrible cholera pandemic that is thought to have killed 150,000 Americans between 1832 and 1849.

    • Ireland was in the early stages of the potato famine that would claim the lives of 1,000,000 people in the span of five years. Countless others would immigrate to places like the United States.

    • The new pope, Pius IX, issued his first encyclical, Qui pluribus, cautioning Catholics and others against ideologies such as communism and nationalism.

    The world seemed to be coming apart. Ancient foundations were shaking. The cause of liberty looked ephemeral and depleted. Who but Boniface Wimmer would have thought it a good year to found a new community and a new college? What hope! What faith! What a dreamer!

    It takes such dreamers to see past the cracks of our world in difficult times. One bell may fall silent, but new ones arise and fill the smug air with notes of goodness, beauty, and truth.

    “PROCLAIM LIBERTY THROUGHOUT ALL THE LAND UNTO ALL THE INHABITANTS THEREOF. LEV XXV.X” (the words inscribed onto the Liberty Bell, taken from Leviticus 25:10).

    Jerome C. Foss, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor of Politics
    Director, Saint Vincent Center for Catholic Thought and Culture
  • Reflection 8 - Jan. 14, 2021: Fr. Thomas M. Hart, O.S.B.

    Visitors to the campus of Saint Vincent notice many things, where they say they can actually “feel” welcomed here, students greeting them, people holding doors for each other and more. Many of them wonder why so many of the doors have chalk markings on them, as in: 20 + C+ M+ B + 21.

    Catholics have a venerable custom to bless the home each year around the feast of the Epiphany (on or close to Jan. 6). It has often been called “chalking the door” because the priest would bless the house and all who dwell therein, then use chalk to write above the main entrance the specific year, separated by the letters C, M and B, thusly: 20 +C + M + B + 21.

    The letters stand for the Latin blessing: Christus Mansionem Benedicat (May Christ Bless this House), as well as the legendary names for the three Magi: Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, most often seen symbolically to represent respectively: Asia, Europe and Africa, and thus that God wishes everyone to be saved, regardless of race, language or way of life.

    In this new year, our prayers go up for everyone, to have the freedom to live a life that is healthy, happy and peaceful. May you and those whom you cherish be blessed in ways unmistakable!

    Fr. Thomas M. Hart, O.S.B.; S ‘88
  • Reflection 7 - Dec. 30, 2020: Fr. Maurus B. Mount, O.S.B.

    A work of love and dedication by the monks of Saint Vincent Archabbey, the crèche has featured prominently in the celebration of Christmas at the basilica for generations. For the past forty to fifty years at least, with slight variation, the large impressive display consists of three scenes related to the story of Our Lord's Nativity and Infancy, viz.: a desert scene with the three wise men en route to worship Christ; a pastoral scene depicting the apparition of the angel to the shepherds, which features a river with running water, calling to mind the Twenty-Third Psalm; the stable featuring the central figures of Our Lord, Our Lady and Saint Joseph.

    The abbey received the high-quality plaster images for the crèche in 1971 from the nuns of the Latrobe Carmel, who had been gifted the figures from a church that had been closed. The quality of the plaster, and the manner of their construction indicate that they were made at some point before the beginning of World War II, perhaps even at the turn of the last century. One by one they are being restored by a priest of the monastery. The restoration and erection of the crèche owes its success to monks past and present (the late Patrick Lacey, O.S.B., as well as the novices and juniors deserve special mention), as well as the generosity of the parishioners and faithful who come to see it each year.

    In this singular act of devotion, everything about the annual display of our Christmas Crèche represents our desire, “that in all things God may be glorified” (Rule of Saint Benedict 57:9; based on 1 Peter 4:11).

    Fr. Maurus B. Mount, O.S.B.; Dr.phil; S’06

    O God, who wonderfully created the dignity of human nature and still more wonderfully restored it, grant, we pray, that we may share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity.

    Collect Prayer on Christmas Day
    The Roman Missal
  • Reflection 6 - Dec. 23, 2020: Mary Collins, Vice President for Student Affairs

    That in All Things, God May Be Glorified, Including Our Hope

    May the hope which was born at Christmas “fill us with all joy and peace as we trust in him, so that we may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

    Abbot Boniface Wimmer had a hope that propelled him across the sea to a remote and isolated part of Pennsylvania. Hope was needed in the beginning to establish Saint Vincent, and hope helped carry the Monastery and College through many years of challenges, including wars, a flu pandemic, a depression and a devastating fire.

    Through all of that, hopes were realized in continued growth, transformed lives and new missions and service.

    It’s our turn now, as Benedictines, students, faculty, staff, alumni, families and friends, to face with that same unfailing hope our challenges, including safely living and learning with Covid-19, economic struggles, political strife, racial inequalities and social injustices.

    Together we can overcome them and emerge with the wisdom to continue to fulfill our founders’ dreams, form new ones and pass on the inheritance of hope to those who will come after us.

    A Blessed Christmas to everyone. Hope is born this day!

    Mary Collins, Vice President for Student Affairs
  • Reflection 5 - Dec. 17, 2020: Fr. Vincent de Paul Crosby, O.S.B.; SVS ’72

    The O Antiphons

    The Advent/Christmas season is rich in symbolism and tradition. I have experienced many Advents now in the course of my monastic life and I never seem to tire of its customs and rituals. Throughout its 175 year history, the Benedictine monks of Saint Vincent Archabbey have kept alive an ancient tradition. During the Octave before Christmas Eve, a time which is called the "Golden Nights,” the seven "O Antiphons" are chanted during the Magnificat at Evening Prayer. Each Antiphon begins with "O" and addresses Jesus with a unique title that comes from the prophecies of Isaiah and Micah. The Antiphons are as follows:

    O Sapientia - December 17: “O Wisdom.”

    O Adonai - December 18: “O sacred Lord.”

    O Radix Jesse: - December 19: “O Root of Jesse’s stem.”

    O Clavis David: - December 20: “O Key of David.”

    O Oriens: - December 21: “O Rising Sun.”

    O Rex Gentium: - December 22: “O King of all the nations.”

    O Emmanuel: - December 23: “O Emmanuel.”

    December 24: Centuries ago the Benedictine monks arranged these antiphons with a definite purpose in mind. On December 24, the monk would start with the last title and take the first letter of each one - Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia – and read the Latin words Ero Cras, meaning, “Tomorrow, I will come.” Therefore, the Lord Jesus, whose coming we have prepared for during Advent now assures us He will soon be here. These “O Antiphons” not only bring intensity to our Advent preparation, they also bring it to a joyful conclusion.

    For an amplification of this tradition in word and art, see:;

    My hope is that these images might serve to take this tradition from within the walls of the monastery and capture the imagination of the Faithful.

    Fr. Vincent de Paul Crosby, OSB; SVS ’72
  • Reflection 4 - Dec. 10, 2020: The Very Reverend Edward M. Mazich, O.S.B.

    During the Advent season the readings and prayers at Mass express great joy over the nearness of the birth of Christ. Zephaniah, for example, says: “the King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst” (Zeph 3:15), and Isaiah cries out: “among you is the great and Holy One of Israel” (Isa 12:6). In other words, there is an awareness that the Messiah is not only near, but is already here, though not yet fully recognized.

    We modern-day believers in Christ celebrate with even greater joy than Isaiah and Zephaniah because we know that Jesus our Messiah is here, and that in him we find not only justice but mercy, compassion and a new beginning — a true cause to “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4)!

    As Saint Vincent celebrates its 175th anniversary, let us strive to recognize the presence of the Lord in all whom we meet, so that together we might joyfully continue the mission of our founder Boniface Wimmer and hasten the coming of the Kingdom of God.

    The Very Reverend Edward M. Mazich, OSB; S.S.L.; S.T.L.; DPhil
    Rector of Saint Vincent Seminary; SVS ‘98
  • Reflection 3 - Dec. 3, 2020: Jerome Oetgen, Ph.D., SVC ’69; SVS ’73; and Wimmer Biographer

    Boniface Wimmer, founder and first archabbot of Saint Vincent, was an astute and enthusiastic student of history. He knew that during the Middle Ages, Benedictine monks had converted whole nations in Europe to Christ, nations like England, Germany, Hungary and Poland.

    It was Wimmer’s knowledge of history, combined with his evangelical zeal, that inspired in him a plan to transfer the ancient Order of St. Benedict across the Atlantic. “When we consider North America today,” he said in 1845, “we see at a glance that there is no other country in the world that offers greater opportunities for the Benedictine Order than the United States does, no other country that is so much like our old Europe was.”

    But Wimmer faced great obstacles when he tried to make his plan a reality. Many in Europe opposed him. Some of his Benedictine confreres laughed at him and called him a Projektenmacher, a “plan-maker,” an unrealistic dreamer. “Why go to America when there is so much work to be done here at home?” they asked.

    Wimmer’s answer was succinct. “We must go because we have to preach the Gospel to immigrants in America. We have to spread the Faith. We belong to the whole world!”

    Wimmer proved that those who thought he was an unrealistic dreamer were wrong. He was a dreamer, but he knew how to make his dream real. He came to America in 1846 and founded Saint Vincent. Today it is the largest Benedictine monastery in the world, and its community of Benedictine monks carries on educational, pastoral and missionary apostolates in the United States, Brazil and China. Ut in omnibus glorificetur Deus!

    Jerome Oetgen, Ph.D.

    SVC ’69; SVS ’73; and Wimmer Biographer
  • Reflection 2 - Nov. 25, 2020: SVC President Father Paul R. Taylor, O.S.B.

    In the fall of 1846, just after beginning the first academic year at Saint Vincent, Boniface Wimmer wrote:

    “With respect to myself, nobody can be filled with greater fear than I. Yet we must remember that God can raise children of Abraham from stones. This is the basis of my hope and confidence. The foundation is laid, the beginning made, the temporal support given – not only for me and my companions but also for others who are willing to work with us.”*

    Today, 175 years later, when we look around at all that confronts us, we could also be filled with fear, but we have hope and confidence in the same way and for the same reason that Wimmer did – God is with us. Scripture exhorts us, “to give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18), and so for both the blessings and the challenges Divine Providence sends our way, we are thankful. Blessed Thanksgiving.

    *Boniface Wimmer to Joseph Müller, Letter of October 26, 1846.

    Rev. Paul R. Taylor, O.S.B., Ph.D.
    Saint Vincent College
  • Reflection 1 - Nov. 19, 2020: Archabbot Martin de Porres Bartel, O.S.B.

    History is important. Remembering the past gives insight into the future, recalls accomplishments, and provides wisdom. We begin our observance of the 175th anniversary of the founding of Saint Vincent by remembering the people and the moments who made us who we are.

    In 1846, before a brick was laid or a shovel turned, Saint Vincent was a dream in the minds and hearts of a small band of people. Dreams realized saw a community of tens of thousands sent forth on a mission—people educated and formed through our commitment to education, nurtured in the Catholic faith through liturgy and worship, engaged in the world through service, and dedicated to the arts and culture. We could not have become what we celebrate today, without the commitment of monks, students, parents, grandparents, and countless friends.

    George Santayana wrote, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” I prefer, “Those who remember, take to heart, and learn from history, are blessed to repeat it.” As we celebrate the past, we eagerly embrace the next 175 years confident ut in omnibus glorificetur Deus, that in all things God may be glorified! (Rule of Saint Benedict 57:9; based on 1 Peter 4:11). 
    Archabbot Martin de Porres Bartel, O.S.B. 
    12th Archabbot of Saint Vincent