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Novice Arthur Sealy, O.S.B.

In the library of Saint Meinrad Archabbey, there is a wood-model replica of the original cabin1 that our pioneer monks occupied when they formally took up residence on this site in southern Indiana in 1854. It shows a habited monk reading while sitting on the front porch of the new monastic dwelling. A closer look reveals that he is reading the words, "All this must be viewed with the eye of the future, AD 1854 III/21."2 In this sesquicentennial year, it seemed appropriate, as a novice setting out on a monastic journey, that in this paper I should explore my monastic heritage. And as an Irish-born novice monk of Saint Meinrad, I do so while anxious to explore the Irish part of a Swiss-American story. The first link in that story is one of our founding monks, Fr. Bede O'Connor. This paper charts his story among several other English-speaking Irish-born monks at Saint Meinrad in the years up to the death in 1952 of Bro. Bartholomew Enright, the last of the "hibernus" monks before this present writer. Along the way, it attempts 1) to outline some circumstances that allowed for its transition from a German-speaking to English-speaking American monastery, and 2) to suggest that the unusual presence of Irish-born (English-speaking) monks here during the monastery's early history is indeed worthy of some attention.

Fr. Bede O'Connor was a monk of the Abbey of Maria Einsiedeln.3 Together with his confrère and traveling companion, Fr. Ulrich Christen, Fr. Bede was a founding monk of Saint Meinrad Archabbey, and afterwards pastor at Fulda, Jasper, and Terre Haute, and for many years Chancellor and Vicar General of the Diocese of Vincennes (which later was to become the Archdiocese of Indianapolis). The entry in the Professbuch (Profession Book) at Einsiedeln for Fr Bede,4 refers to the circumstances through which fourteen-year-old Jacob (later Bede) came to receive a Swiss education at the monastery school:

Fr. Bede (Jacob) O'Connor of London was born January 29, 1826, as the son of Jeremias O'Connor and of Maria O'Connor. He came as a boy who scarcely knew a word of German from England to Einsiedeln, sent there by a son of Fr. Alois Jauch in order to make reparation for the sins of that unhappy man.5

An oral tradition at Saint Meinrad tells of a former monk of Einsiedeln (Fr. Aloys) who had left the monastery and fathered an illegitimate son. This son, himself, had become a priest and through ministry had come to know Bede's Irish family in London. Other accounts, for which I can find no evidence,6 suggest that this priest was Fr. Bede's father. To my knowledge, the only written record for this part of our Saint Meinrad history is found in the Einsiedeln Professbuch, an extract from which is presented here:

Born in 1751, Fr. Aloys professed vows [at Maria Einsiedeln Abbey] on September 24, 1769, and was ordained a priest on September 24, 1774. From 1774-1781 he was Professor of Philosophy at Bellenz. Around the year 1794, at Eschenz, he started to proclaim from the pulpit heretical teachings, distributed heretical books and influenced the apostasy of one or other of the faithful. Complaints were made to the Abbot and when Fr. Aloys learned of these, he left Eschenz and went first to Stein, then to Schaffhausen, and finally to Zurich. When the monastery learned of his flight, the Abbot immediately sent Fr. Subprior Fintan Steinnegger to Eschenz on February 26, 1797, to bring home the astray. However, on 1 March [Fr. Subprior] reported home that Fr. Aloys was gone. The Dean of the monastery informed the [Einsiedeln] Chapter of the news. [On March 4] a letter was received from Antistes7 Lavater of Zurich, reporting that Fr. Aloys was with Lavater and refused, in spite of all encouragement, to return to his vocation and work.

The Lavater home would be open for any visitor from Einsiedeln. Fr. Chrysostomus Helbing, the former novice master of the "misguided" and Fr. Coelestin Mueller, his classmate from Novitiate, went to Lavater's house. All their efforts were in vain. Fr. Aloys apostatized completely from the Church and was ordained preacher in the Reformed Church. He rejected the idea of a return [to Einsiedeln]. Later he became a missionary with the Herrenhuter Society in South Russia and died there, reconciled with the Church.

There is documental evidence that he had the good luck to receive absolution in his hour of death by another former priest. He was, as he had wished, buried in his religious habit, which he always had with him in Katharinenstadt, Russia. The defector had married and had died leaving her and two sons behind in great misery. Einsiedeln Abbey was petitioned for financial assistance for them. One of the sons even came to Einsiedeln in March 1828 and asked for help also for his brother who was still in Russia. Both intended to convert to Catholicism. One of the two sons, himself became a priest and pastor in London, and sent a boy to Einsiedeln to receive an education and join the monastery, to atone for the offenses of their father, Fr. Aloys. That boy was Jacob O'Connor (Fr. Bede).8

Fr. Bede was the most likely of the Einsiedeln monks to be sent to found a mission house in English-speaking America. In The Role of Saint Meinrad in the Formation of Catholic Identity in the Diocese of Vincennes, 1853-98, Peter Yock writes:

Because he was fluent in both English and German, Fr. Bede also spent much of his time assigned to multi-ethnic parishes within the Diocese of Vincennes, including Madison and Cannelton. . . . He was specifically sent by Hieronymus Bachmann, then Prior, to take up residence [in Cannelton] in order to guard the people's faith against the encroachment of the Protestants.9

Fr. Bede's letters to Abbot Henry Schmidt and monks back at Einsiedeln include many references to the Irish, which Yock suggests was because of his own sense of being Irish. In a letter to Fr. Athanasius Tschopp at Einsiedeln, contrasting the Irish approach to faith with the Germans who were diligent in receiving instruction, Fr. Bede notes that for the Irish "their religion is not taught to them, but it is inborn, and what they know, they have to a great extent taken in with their mother's milk."10 He died at Terre Haute, Indiana, where he was buried, at the age of forty-nine. He had a very likeable personality, we are told, but was not without an occasional temper. Had he lived longer, based on the respect and responsibilities afforded him while alive, he most probably would have succeeded to the See of Vincennes. Such was his gift for bringing together people of such an ethnically diverse region as southern Indiana, it is unlikely that it would have gone unnoticed by Church authorities in Rome.

Candidate Charles Kinslaw (a phonetic spelling of the Irish name "Kinsella") died in our monastery on January 30, 1863. Described as "a virtuous youth from Ireland,"11 there is very little else known about this brother candidate. A fire in 1887 caused the total destruction of the monastery and attached school buildings,12 fortunately without any loss of life. One of the monks, charged with responsibility for the archives (which were housed in the monastery itself), when going away for a summer assignment, left a box of papers with the caution that it be taken out of the building in case of a fire. In all the confusion, according to this oral history,13 the brother who should have removed the box, neglected to do so. This had provided the heart of the archive, and a great quantity of documentation was destroyed. However, the archivists at the Archabbey have reconstituted many of our records by accessing archives from other monasteries,14 a process that has been ongoing since the time of that fire. Very little beyond the actual necrology had survived.

Fr. Meinrad Mary McCarthy was born in 1839 in Monmouthshire, South Wales (Great Britain).15 As a Catholic and possessed of a name indicative of an Irish origin, it is not unreasonable to assume that he was born of Irish parents, or that he was born in Ireland and emigrated as a young child with his parents to Britain like many other Irish during the Famine period of the 1840s. How he found his way to the United States, and subsequently to Saint Meinrad, is not known, but he made profession in 1862 and was ordained a priest the following year.

Fr. Meinrad's papers include a letter from Abbot President Frowin Conrad (Swiss-American Congregation), dated December 1, 1899, inviting Fr. Meinrad, "to make known to me today your complaints." This was in response to previous correspondence in which Fr. Meinrad had outlined, in very serious terms, his grievances with his Abbot Athanasius and the running of the monastery at Saint Meinrad. That these complaints led to a formal visitation of the monastery, incensed the community and abbot. The following letter, sent some years earlier internally within the monastery, from Fr. Meinrad Mary to his Abbot Fintan, gives some indication as to his state of mind.16

My Lord Abbot:
I respectfully submit for your kind consideration the following suggestions, viz:

1. That a board be placed in a conspicuous place showing where the superiors are to be found, or at least whether they are present or absent. In case of emergency a glance at the board will show where the superior is; the second story will be most convenient for all.
2. That those charged with sweeping, dusting, cleaning lamps, etc., be careful to sweep under the beds and out of the corners; that they dust all woodwork, burn or destroy all wasted paper especially when saturated with grease or oil, and that all cloths used in cleaning lamps be washed at least once a week. Object. To prevent spontaneous combustion that frequently takes place from dust under beds, in corners, from rags, etc.
3. That waste papers, slops, etc., should not be thrown out of the windows, nor any other rubbish. Object. Cleanliness around the buildings and to prevent persons passing by or waiting near the buildings from receiving unpleasant baths.
4. That lamps kept burning during the nighttime be so encased in tin or sheet iron that there will be no danger of particles of sooth falling on woodwork.
5. That a certain signal be agreed upon whereby all can be warned of threatening danger; and that in such cases the highest official at home should be called. It would be also well to have all the inmates of our building instructed how to act in case of fire, or other calamity.
6. That no rubbish be stored away in any part of our buildings.
7. That the halls of the abbey are not to be used at the times of silence as a promenade, especially not by such as wear course shoes or boots; it would also be well if such would not run up and down stairs [making] unnecessary noise.

The reason for including this letter here, in full, is not so as to provide a source of ridicule or amusement, but as evidence of a mental anxiety, a certain fearfulness and meticulousness that was to become more pronounced over time, and which ultimately led to Fr. Meinrad Mary's mental breakdown. He was declared legally to be of unsound mind17 and committed to the Alexian Brothers' Institution in St. Louis in 1899, where he died on June 16, 1914. Along with a Frenchman, Fr. Benedict Brunet, he was one of the earliest monks to make solemn profession at Saint Meinrad, one of the first non-German-speaking monks to come here, and among the first group of monks to be ordained to the priesthood at the Abbey. One can only presume that his mental imbalance or illness, were it diagnosed today, would be characterized differently, and with proper medication, that he could have lived a life more at ease with himself and others.

The final entry in the 1897 Catologus Religiosorum Monasterii S. Meinradi is for Timothy Sullivan, simply identified as "Hibernus" (Irish). He was one of four lay novices to have received the habit on March 27, 1896.18 A young Irishman, Thomas Sherlock, appears in the Catologus 1901-44. Born in Kilcommon, County Mayo (Diocese of Tuam), there is very little recorded about him except that he was around twenty-seven years old when came to the monastery on February 22, 1899, that he received the habit on September 17, and that he departed on December 4, all in the same year.

Brothers Ignatius Dwire and Basilides Hyland were both born in Ireland in 184319 and 1844 respectively. They probably came to America, like so many others, as a result of the Famine and made profession here, Bro. Ignatius on June 24, 1872, and Bro. Basilides on July 25, 1875. Bro. Ignatius was born in Artfinan, County Tipperary, Ireland. He served the community through work and prayer, but poor health eventually forced him to retire to the healthier climate of Louisiana. He died at St. Joseph's Abbey in 1905. Br Basilides was born in County Mayo, Ireland, in 1844. "He was a simple, humble and quiet monk who year after year faithfully washed the dishes. He hardly ever spoke, treasuring silence as did the ancient hermits of the desert."20 It has been suggested21 that he may have had a brother who was Chief of Police in Terre Haute, Indiana. Bro. Basilides died on May 14, 1910, in the thirty-fifth year of his monastic profession.

Br Bartholomew "Thomas" Enright came to the monastery on May 20, 1931. Twenty-six-year-old Thomas' first letter of enquiry (April 14, 1931) about Benedictine life at Saint Meinrad received a swift reply from Fr. Abbot Ignatius, and days later Thomas wrote to the Abbot again:

[...] I was born in Ireland and came to the USA in 1927. . . . My parents are both living and I dare say they and their ancestors are Catholics since the time of St. Patrick. After coming to this country I worked at hard labor for some time. I then got a job as clerk in the railroad office, and after that I joined the elevator men's union and that is my present occupation. . . . I wish to become a lay brother. I have one brother and two sisters all now residing in Ireland. My parents don't need me for they are pretty well fixed in the land where the shamrock grows.22

Born in Listowel, County Kerry, Ireland, in 1905, Thomas' father, Batt (short for Bartholomew) was a farmer with 133 acres of land. Young Thomas had fought in the "War of Independence" in Ireland and found himself in trouble with the infamous "black 'n' tans."23 How he found his way to Saint Meinrad is not certain, although he did settle with a relative in Chicago before coming to the monastery. At Saint Meinrad less than a month, signing his name still as "Candidate Thomas," he writes about what life at the monastery means to him:

I like the religious life because of the great opportunity which I have of attending the Great Sacrifice of the Mass and the daily reception of the Holy Sacrament and also the great privileges of being able to attend two and three masses a day. The next thing I like about it is the opportunity a man has of praying which is the next great means we have to glorify God after the Sacrifice of the Mass. As far as the work is concerned I care not, for I came not to do my will but the will of Him that sent me. The food is perfectly O.K. for "not in bread alone doth man live but every word that proceedith from the mouth of God."24

Thomas received the monastic name, Bartholomew, his father's name. His catchphrase was, "I was 'in right' with de Irish, but not `in right' with de English!"25 An independent-minded man and known for his no-nonsense approach with the fathers, he is remembered, in my interviews with both Fathers Cyprian Davis and Simon McTighe, as a cheerful man and a good companion. Letters to Fr. Abbot Ignatius indicate that, with permission, he stayed for an extended period at two abbeys. A letter from the infirmary at St Joseph's Abbey (Louisiana) dated October 5, 1942, finds him there nursing Bro. Placidus Fuch, a monk of Saint Meinrad, who died at St Joseph's a few days later on October 14. A letter from his time at St. Leo's Abbey26 in Florida finds him in good relationship with his Abbot at Saint Meinrad, where the tone of the letter is respectful but extremely jovial.

Coming across an archive photograph of the brother and his Abbot Ignatius, prompted me to include here an extract from a letter to Fr. Abbot Ignatius from Bro. Bartholomew's youngest sister, Teresa Enright in Ireland, following the abbot's visit there in 1937: "We are still thinking of you, [Fr. Abbot], and your visit and how good it was of you to come to see us and also the good day we had driving around Kerry and Cork. I shall never forget you. I was really so lonesome parting that night at the boat."27

Bro. Bartholomew became a US citizen on April 9, 1935. Having served the monastery as sacristan, monastery porter, vineyard assistant, infirmarian, worker at The Grail28 magazine office, and at our Abbey Press, Bro. Bartholomew died relatively young in 1952, following a series of strokes.

In the 1930s Saint Meinrad Abbey changed its culture from a predominantly German-speaking abbey, continuing in the tradition of its Swiss founders, to an English-speaking American monastery. On the East Coast, as a result of the First World War, German immigrants experienced much discrimination, and many changed or anglicized their names (much as the Irish immigrants had done in Britain in the centuries before), and Americanized their lifestyles.

Here in southern Indiana such change didn't occur so startlingly,29 partly because the monastery was somewhat remote from the bigger cities. However, the needs of the monastery, and our service to the people, required that we become Americanized and speak the language; in other words, to change the culture from a German-oriented monastery, to a monastery that was at one with the changing environment around it. The transition was slow but deliberate, and several of the monks heard confessions and administered sacraments in German as late as the 1970s.

Abbot Ignatius Esser,30 Saint Meinrad's first American-born abbot, founded St. Placid School in the early 1930s as a high school specifically for brother candidates. His reforms included the elimination of table reading in German, and an end to the requirement of priests that they would preach in German.31 With the election of Abbot Ignatius, the conditions were becoming more favorable for the admission of monks for whom English was their first language. And many of these English-speaking monks were of Irish Catholic background.

With war on the Atlantic front making it ever more difficult in the 1930s to recruit German-speaking brothers from Europe, Abbot Ignatius' decision to become more pro-active in our recruitment of American brothers32 was a pragmatic one. However, Abbot Ignatius also held strongly to the view (in a very clergy-dominated Church environment) that the vocation of the brother monk deserved recognition and better understanding, and he worked tirelessly to promote a spirituality of the brother monk in the monastery, through his writings and, most influentially, among other abbots.33

Brothers Benedict Barthel (class of 1937) and Augustine Schmidt (1938) are among the earliest graduates of the Archabbey's St. Placid School, and the few who are still alive today. The co-existence of European German-speaking and American English-speaking brothers made life at times very difficult34 and, while many new brothers were recruited, there were many who returned "to the world." Those who stayed must have realized that they were witnessing the beginning of one era and the end of another.

Canon Law at the time ruled that a brother in a particular monastery could not remain in that monastery and become a priest. Denis Quinkert, O.S.B. (1936-), for example, one of the many who left, later became a monk and priest at Blue Cloud Abbey, and reigned as that abbey's fourth abbot from 1986-91. Archabbot Bonaventure's reign at Saint Meinrad (1955-66) coincided with a very turbulent period in the Church's history; his reform of monastic life included implementation early on of the change in the ruling about brothers becoming priests. Our Fathers Pius Klein and Stephen Snoich are among a number of brothers from that period who later chose to present themselves as candidates for priesthood and become ordained.

It was during that period under Archabbot Bonaventure that Bro. Terence Griffin came to the monastery, making profession here in 1960. Bro. Terence is one among a significant number of monks of Saint Meinrad today of Irish ancestry.35 In the early 1960s there was still separation of brothers, fraters and fathers, except for occasional Familienfest when the entire monastic community would come together for common recreation. There were still six German-speaking brothers who lived a life somewhat apart, even from the new American brothers. They had a smoking room where they would speak German. They had their annual retreats in German, and prayed the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary in German in the crypt of the Abbey Church, unlike the American brothers who from 1936 prayed an English translation of the Monastic Divine Office in the St. Gertrude Oratory. While some of them are recalled with much affection by the brethren today, this small group of German brothers was quite distinctive then, simply because they were beginning to disappear.36

The periodical Paradisie Früchte37 is another example of the German-language culture that dominated the early years of our monastery, as well as so many pockets of German culture around the United States when European ethnic distinctions were more pronounced, much as is found today with the Hispanic community. Saint Meinrad inaugurated this publication shortly after the great fire of 1887, as a way of funding the rebuilding of the monastery practically from scratch. A fall in subscriptions, however, when German immigrants began to immerse themselves more in American culture and lifestyle, including the English language, forced its demise in 1936.38 From 1919 it ran parallel with the English-language magazine, The Grail.39 Both publications emphasized devotion to the Eucharist. In 1928, for a ten-year run, the Saint Meinrad College and Minor Seminary published Saint Meinrad Historical Essays, which included articles by seminarians under the general stewardship of Fr. Cyril Gaul. The first article in the series was by Theodore Heck, O.S.B.40

Fr. Theodore arrived here in 1922. He was sent to Catholic University to complete doctoral studies in education, a further indication of the commitment of the community to modernize the schedules of the seminary. Fr. Theodore was the first of our monks to undertake graduate studies (in areas other than theology or philosophy) at a higher institute of learning in the US. This paved the way for other monks to attend universities in Midwest region of the United States41 for further studies in areas of the curriculum at Saint Meinrad College and Minor Seminary where all the studies were in English. Abbot Ignatius, in facilitating Fr. Theodore's Doctorate in Education, was able to appoint him to oversee the accreditation of the high school section of the minor seminary in the 1930s.42 This accreditation, an integral part of the jigsaw of Americanization at Saint Meinrad, was arguably among the most important steps in securing the future of the educational role of the monastery, and is further testimony to the foresight and vision of Abbot Ignatius.

This paper has attempted to chart the Americanization of Saint Meinrad Archabbey from a German-speaking to an English-speaking monastery.43 Abbot Ignatius' vision of the American lay brother and the steps which he took to promote vocations to that way of life here at Saint Meinrad and elsewhere, merit an important place for him in the history of our monastery and in the history of the Church in America.

That in the early days there was even a handful of foreign-born Irish monks, as I have outlined, and particularly non-German-speaking lay brothers, considering the predominant culture of the place as I have described it here, was very unusual at the time, and for that reason is also recounted in the paper. The research presented should be read simply as an exploratory survey by an Irishman in an American monastery, caught up in the celebration of the Archabbey's sesquicentennial year, and trying to find his own "Irish" connections with the past as he discerns the future.


Davis, O.S.B., Cyprian, ed.
To Prefer Nothing to Christ: Saint Meinrad Archabbey 1854-2004. Published by the Monastery at Abbey Press 2004.
Heck, O.S.B., Theodore.
"A Pioneer Benedictine in Indiana" in Saint Meinrad Historical Essays, 1:1929, pp. 58-64.
Henggeler, O.S.B., Rudolf.
Professbuch der Fürstl. Benediktinerabtein u.l. Frau zu Einsiedeln. Monasticon-Benedictinum Helvetiae. III. Band. Festgabe zum tausendjährigen bestand des klosters. Im Selbstverlag des Stiftes. (The Profession Book of the Princely Benedictine Abbey of Our Lady of Einsiedeln in Swiss Benedicitine Monasticism, Vol.III: A commemorative book for the thousand year anniversary of the founding of the Abbey. Published by the Abbey, 1929).
Kleber, O.S.B., Albert.
History of Saint Meinrad Archabbey, 1854-1954, American Benedictine Academy: Historical Studies. Monasteries and Convents. No.1. St. Meinrad, IN: Grail Publications,  1954.
Saint Meinrad Archabbey Archives.
Saint Meinrad Archival Historical Series: Pioneer Letters, Vols. 1-4 (1847-78; Boxes 1-4). Transcribed by Archabbot Gabriel Verkamp from the Archives of the Abbey of Maria Einsiedeln. Translated by Fr. Patrick Shaughnessy. Edited by Fr. Alcuin Leibold.
Saint Meinrad Archabbey Archives.
Deceased Former Saint Meinrad Monks. Personal Records and Papers. Fr. Bede O'Connor folder (Box 7); Fr. Meinrad McCarthy folder (Box 42); Bro. Basilides Hyland and Bro. Bartholomew Enright folders (Box 6).
Saint Meinrad Archabbey Archives.
Saint Meinrad Necrology/Personnel. Boxes 1-7 (includes catalogues of monks, necrologies and personal archival records).
Saint Meinrad Archabbey Archives.
Abbatial File of Saint Meinrad Monks, Series 1. Bro. Bartholomew Enright folder (Box 4).
Yock, O.S.B., Peter.
The Role of St. Meinrad Abbey in the Formation of Catholic Identity in the Diocese of Vincennes, 1853-98. Evansville, IN: Peter Yock, 2001.

Novice Arthur of Saint Meinrad Archabbey, Indiana, comes from Waterford in the country of Ireland, not to be confused with Ireland in the state of Indiana! He came to the monastery as a candidate in 2003, but returned to Ireland before making final profession. Before coming to the monastery, he had worked as a music teacher in Dublin, Ireland. This paper was submitted for the American Benedictine Academy Junior Essay Competition, 2004. Arthur Sealy was declared winner of the competition in his absence during the ABA Convention of 2006.


1 The property was originally owned by Henry Denning, whose descendant Ruth Denning is a co-worker today at the Archabbey Library.

2 Saint Meinrad Archabbey Foundation Day. The monastery was founded by the Swiss monks of Einsiedeln in 1854.

3 While Fr. Bede never transferred stability from Einsiedeln, he was given full Chapter rights by our first abbot, Martin Marty. The earliest surviving Catologus (1859?) identifies Fr. Bede as "Anglo hibernus" (Anglo-Irish); subsequent documents identify him as "Anglus ex London."

4 Professions under Abbot Heinrich Schmid, 1846-74.

5 Rudolf Henggeler, O.S.B., Professbuch der Fürstl. Benediktinerabtein u.l. Frau zu Einsiedeln. Monasticon-Benedictinum Helvetiae, entry for "P. Beda (Jacob) O'Connor von London" 539, translated by Fr. Simeon Daly, O.S.B.

6 Further research will involve looking at a copy of Fr. Bede's birth certificate.

7 An unofficial honor title, and the name for the highest office holders in the reformed churches in Switzerland.

8 Henggeler, entry for "P. Aloys Jauch von Altdorf" 445-46, translated by Nov. Paul Kasun, O.S.B., and Fr. Tobias Dammert, O.S.B., Christ the King Benedictine Priory, Schuyler, Nebraska.

9 Pp. 74-77, quoting from Bachmann's letter to Abbot Henry of Einsiedeln, January 16, 1854.

10 O'Connor to Tschopp, July 12-26, 1854, SMAA Pioneer Letters, Vol. 2.

11 SMAA (Saint Meinrad Archabbey Archives) Necrology IV 1964-74.

12 While the fire gutted the buildings, the walls remained.

13 Interview with Fr. Simon McTighe, O.S.B. I have been unable to find the original source for his account.

14 Archabbot Gabriel Verkamp was professed in 1923 and ordained in 1929. After ordination, for about five years, he did graduate studies at Rome's Sant' Anselmo Abbey for doctorates in theology and philosophy. The summers of those years were spent at the Abbey of Maria Einsiedeln, our motherhouse, where the future archabbot was able to transcribe letters that our founding monks had sent back to Einsiedeln at various stages of their journey to the United States and for many years after their eventual arrival in Indiana. Important letters sent from Einsiedeln, particularly from Abbot Henry Schmidt, had been copied before being sent to the US, and were thus available to be chronicled by Abbot Gabriel (subsequently translated by Fr. Patrick Shaughnessy). These Pioneer Letters today form the core of the rejuvenated archive of that period. Assistant archivist Fr. Alcuin Leibold completed the final edits of these translated letters and compiled them in several volumes known simply as Pioneer Letters.

15 SMAA Catologus 1868 describes him as "Anglo Hibernus ex Monmouthshire."

16 March 25, 1890. SMAA Personal Records and Papers and Papers of Fr. Meinrad Mary McCarthy, O.S.B. (Box 42).

17 Letter of physician A.M. Brewer, M.D., November 24, 1899 (SMAA Personal Records and Papers and Papers of Fr. Meinrad Mary McCarthy, O.S.B.).

18 I was unable to find any records of his departure from the monastery.

19 The 1874 Catologus erroneously identifies the year of Bro. Ignatius' birth as 1840.

20 SMAA Necrology V, 1974-79.

21 Cf. interview with Fr. Simon.

22 Dated April 1931, sent from his residence at 1133 Altgeld St., Chicago, IL.

23 A paramilitary force recruited in Britain, comprised mostly of former convicted murderers, and sent to Ireland during 1919-21 as part of the Royal Irish Constabulary's (police force) attempt to suppress Sinn Féin activities that had begun with the Easter Rising in 1916 and the Declaration of Independence.

24 May 29, 1931.

25 Interview with Fr. Cyprian Davis, O.S.B., archivist for Saint Meinrad Archabbey and for the Swiss-American Congregation.

26 June 11, 1949 (SMAA).

27 December 9, 1937 (SMAA).

28 Cf. footnote 39.

29 While German as a spoken language was dying out in many of the households, one of the monks here recalls hearing the grade school children using German when playing baseball (cf. interview with Fr. Simon).

30 Archabbot Ignatius, often referred to as Saint Meinrad's second founder, reigned from 1930-55. He was Saint Meinrad's first American-born abbot, our fourth abbot and first archabbot. (Abbots Martin Marty and Fintan Mundwiler had been born in Switzerland; Abbot Athanasius Schmitt came from Bavaria.) While the family name Esser does not suggest an Irish connection, Abbot Ignatius did have a sister who married an Irishman! Archabbot Bonaventure Knaebel, the first "Hoosier" (somebody who comes from the state of Indiana) abbot, was also the first Saint Meinrad abbot to have a blood link to Ireland. His paternal great-grandmother was Rose Ann Duffy from County Louth in Ireland. She came with her family to the United States in 1806 arriving here at Baltimore, Maryland. Archabbots Timothy Sweeney and the Lambert Reilly, from Indianapolis and Pittsburgh respectively, both have strong Irish family connections.

31 Cf. interview with Fr. Simon.

32 For most of the first century of our history, Saint Meinrad depended on German-speaking vocations. Some were children, born in the US of European parents. Others were German-speaking European immigrants from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. This latter group was collectively known as the "German" brothers. See also footnote 36.

33 Archabbot Ignatius gave these new junior brothers, as they were to be called, a translation of the Monastic Divine Office, and insisted, as early as 1950, if not before, that they come to choir with the fathers and fraters on Sundays and feast days. In this respect, he was very much ahead of his time. Well known for his success in attracting lay-brother vocations to the monastery, his reforms are documented in his address to the Congress of Abbots in 1953, found among his papers. See also To Prefer Nothing to Christ, the 2004 Festschrift to commemorate the sesquicentennial year of Saint Meinrad Archabbey, edited by Fr. Cyprian Davis, O.S.B.

34 As the American-born monks had difficulty in learning German so as to function in the life of the monastery, so it was just as hard on the German speakers to learn English.

35 Casey, Reilly, Sweeney, O'Keefe, Mullen, Moss, Hagan, Burke, Cooney, Daly, King, Mulcahy, Colgan, Walsh, Ryan, Lynch, McTighe, Davis, Kavanagh, Kelly, Tobin, Malloy and Cummings are just some of the surnames of Saint Meinrad monks today of Irish ancestry.

36 Bro. Wolfgang Mieslinger, O.S.B., the last of the "German" brothers, came to the US in 1922 and professed vows in 1925. Originally from Altdorf near Landshut in Germany, he had worked as landscape gardener for the Crown Prince of Bavaria. Bro. Giles Mahieu, O.S.B., worked for several years under the stewardship of Bro. Wolfgang. In interview, he described Bro. Wolfgang as impeccable in his manners, known for his courtesy and reverential bows to the brothers and guests. Bro. Wolfgang worked in the orchard and in landscaping here at Saint Meinrad, and for twenty years as assistant cook to Bro. Benno Geraghty, O.S.B., in the kitchen. Known by his confrères as "The Boss," he was celebrated in the monastery and local area for his Christmas decorations and wreathes, a craft that he taught to the fraters and younger monks. Today the senior monks of the monastery fondly remember him as a kind and gentle man. He died on September 6, 1980, at the age of eighty.

37 "The Fruit of the Paradise," Vols. 1-3 appeared as supplements to St. Benedikts Panier. In 1895, Paradisie Früchte absorbed St. Benedikts Panier and assumed its numbering.

38 This is further evidence, I would suggest, of the changing culture in southern Indiana and, more generally, in American society, where German immigrants increasingly embraced the American culture and language, and became, like the Irish, less distinctive as a separate ethnic group.

39 The Grail was published during 1919-58. From Vol. 41 in 1959 the periodical became known as Marriage. Between both publications there was a total of 73 volumes. Publication was discontinued in 1991.

40 At one-hundred-and-three years old, Fr. Theodore, a monk of Saint Meinrad, is the oldest living Benedictine.

41 Notre Dame, St Louis University, Indiana University, State College, University of Illinois, University of Chicago, Fordham University and De Paul University.

42 St. Placid School was part of the Saint Meinrad High School, but for oblate brothers, and was therefore also accredited. When the Saint Meinrad High School closed in the 1960s so also did St. Placid School.

43 In 1955, the students at Saint Meinrad's "St. Placid School" produced, Kitchen Cut-Up or Nonsense Being Served, a play by Bro. Christopher Jeffers, O.S.B., about the first Irish novice at Saint Meinrad. The setting for the play is the monastery Chapter Room, at a meeting during which the Irishman is presented to the Monastery Chapter for approval to make profession of vows. Our Bro. Giles Mahieu played the Irish novice in the 1955 production. Bro. Christopher taught English at St. Placid School and, as such, was the first brother on the Saint Meinrad teaching faculty. He eventually left the monastery, married, and became editor of the Niagara Falls Gazette.


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