St. Vincent, April 4, 1877
TO UTTO LANG
Right Reverend Father Abbot, Most Esteemed Confrere: Many thanks for the 2,100 intentions, for which I received yesterday, through the kindness of Mr. Lebling,114 exactly 1,860 marks and 90 pfennigs. Likewise, I send sincere thanks for the information about the printing of the Bible, even though it is not altogether clear what we should do since here in America a copy is not legally considered a reproduction. In any event, I do not want to reproduce the text in exactly the same manner as it was published in Germany. At least, now I know what direction I have to go.
With regard to the centenary celebration, I have heard nothing from Montecassino except that we made a great mistake by proposing Cardinal Pitra115 as patron without first asking him if he was willing to accept the honor. Perhaps it was too presumptuous on my part. According to the rumors I heard, it seems that a certain amount of “deal-making” resulted in Cardinal Bartolini’s116 being appointed Protector of the Order of Saint Benedict instead of Cardinal Pitra.
At the urging of Prior Boniface Krug,117 Montecassino is preparing for the centenary celebration by restoring the tower in which St. Benedict lived, as well as the crypt. The restoration has begun and will cost $50,000. It will be done in accordance with the designs of the artists from Beuron who had worked there earlier. They expect to raise the money abroad from us abbots, but whether or not we will be able to collect so much is still to be determined. I sent a few hundred dollars immediately and have promised at least a thousand, but I am not able to give more until times are better. The college has not been bringing in much money lately. People are not paying their debts, especially the bishops, who are the worst when it comes to meeting their obligations. Not all of them, but a few.
Father Henry Lemke,118 who is 80 years old, finally returned to the monastery. To help him, I had to take over his parish, which is five miles from Newark, by sending a younger father there. Father Henry has been here for a few months and seems satisfied.
Father Oswald119 and his companion, Father Maurice Kaeder,120 do not have an easy job in Georgia. Their efforts to convert the Negroes, a difficult task in itself, are made even more difficult by the opposition of different Protestant sects. Father Maurice is an excellent preacher and lecturer in English. He tends not to neglect the white people. Fathers Oswald and Maurice have no income and depend entirely on St. Vincent. This is not a profitable business for me, but we do the work on the one hand because of pity for these entirely neglected Negroes and on the other hand because of the need to find new fields of activity for my young people. We must spread out and expand in the South, where there are very few Catholics. Indeed, this region, which has no more than one Catholic for every thousand people, must be our new field of labor. I am confident that within a short time we will have Negro Benedictines, male and female. Already we have one Negro brother. Divine providence is urgently calling us to live and work in this mission field among pagans, quasi pagans, and Protestants of various sects. We are being called whether we want to respond or not. So naturally, you see, we have no choice but to respond.
How wonderful! I am staggered with dizziness. I am too glad to do it and would like to do even more for the salvation of souls, the honor of God, and the propagation of our holy Order. However, I am old, weak, and near death. I do not know how to govern my monastery, how to supervise and direct so many of my priests who are stationed away from the monastery. I do not have to worry about Minnesota and Kansas any more, of course, since they are both abbeys now; but St. Vincent forms an axis from which we are spreading 500 miles east and west and a thousand miles south. I must even turn west again. Five thousand Bohemians are waiting for a Bohemian priest in Nebraska. I will send them one, and he will have to select a place for a real monastery. That is the desire of the bishop of Omaha, James O’Connor,121 and I have promised to help him. He attended the blessing of the abbot122 in Atchison with Bishop Hogan123 of St. Joseph, Missouri, and Bishop Seidenbusch.124 Bishop Fink125 of Leavenworth presided at the blessing. Nothing like it has ever occurred in America before. Present were two Carmelites (originally from Straubingen), a Jesuit superior, three vicars general, and 30 secular priests. Thanks be to God a thousand times that, externally, all is well, though internally I fear that I am not fit for the task. God will help me. Like everyone else, I carry too many heavy burdens, but I depend entirely on the help and protection of God and on the prayers of my friends. I am grateful to them for all the success we have experienced. With sincere affection and deep respect, I am Your Grace’s most grateful confrere, Boniface Wimmer.
P.S. Bishop Seidenbusch is going to Europe this month. It seems that Abbot Alexius126 will go with him. I am glad I am at home. Unless there is real need, I do not intend to cross the ocean any more. Greetings to Prior Placid, Father Xavier, Father Fortunatus, and Father Willibald.127
114 Louis Ignatius Lebling, treasurer of the Ludwig Missionsverein.
115 Cardinal John Baptist Pitra, O.S.B. (1812-1889).
116 Cardinal Dominic Bartolini (1813-1887).
117 Boniface Krug, O.S.B. (1838-1909), prior and later archabbot of Montecassino.
118 Peter Henry Lemke, O.S.B. (1796-1882).
119 Oswald Moosmüller, O.S.B. (1932-1901).
120 Maurice Kaeder, O.S.B. (1837-1892).
121 James O’Connor (1823-1890).
122 Innocent Wolf, O.S.B. (1843-1922).
123 John J. Hogan (1829-1913), first bishop of St. Joseph, Missouri (1868-1880), and first bishop of Kansas City (1880-1913).
124 Rupert Seidenbusch, O.S.B. (1830-1895), bishop of northern Minnesota.
125 Louis M. Fink, O.S.B. (1834-1904).
126 Alexius Edelbrock, O.S.B. (1843-1908).
127 All monks of Metten and former confreres of Abbot Boniface. Placid Lacense, O.S.B. (1802-1887), Francis Xavier Sulzbeck, O.S.B. (1807-1881), Fortunatus Braun, O.S.B. (1806-1893), and Willibald Freymüller, O.S.B. (1807-1890).