Although Saint Vincent Archabbey and Sant’ Anselmo, the international Benedictine university, have a history dating back to the support of Sant’ Anselmo by Saint Vincent’s founder, Archabbot Boniface Wimmer, in the 19th century, the Seminary in Latrobe and the university in Rome have not had a formal academic affiliation. In February, officials from Rome completed a visit to Saint Vincent Seminary to announce the Bachelor of Sacred Theology (S.T.B.) degree program. Most Rev. Piero Marini, Titular Archbishop of Martirano, and President of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses; Very Rev. Juan Javier Flores Arcas, O.S.B., Grand Rector, Pontifical Athenaeum of Sant’ Anselmo; and Rev. Eduardo Lopéz-Tello García, O.S.B., Delegate for Affiliations with the Pontifical Athenaeum of Sant’ Anselmo, spent three days at Saint Vincent to formally inaugurate the degree program.
“This affiliation represents a new bonding with a highly acclaimed, prestigious and revered center of scholarship and formation in the Eternal City,” said Most Rev. Donald Trautman, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Erie. Bishop Trautman presented the keynote lecture during the convocation as the formal affiliation was announced.
“Saint Vincent Seminary has also distinguished itself as an institution of academic integrity, served by a faculty with the highest biblical and theological credentials,” Bishop Trautman said. “The Benedictine charism now joins ever more closely two institutions, enhancing the formation of the future shepherds of our Church.”
“I am here as a friend of Sant’ Anselmo,” Archbishop Marini said in an interview prior to the ceremony. “I took a look at the traditional monastery and what I found here was not only a monastery but a monastery with an outreach to families and to young people. To me an ideal monastery is a timeless center for culture, for the life of the people, not only in education and educational intellect, but in education of the spirit.
“It nourishes and embodies every day a culture, every day a spirit, every day an idea,” he continued, “and this is true in the Saint Vincent Archabbey.”
Archbishop Marini celebrated evening prayer and Mass with the Seminary community, and toured the Seminary and College campus. He noted that the liturgy “involves the community, which is so important after the Second Vatican Council.”
He reflected on the architecture of the Seminary Chapel as “a sacred place of delibeate design,” from details in the cross, the ambo, and even the benches. “The seminarians here live in the true spirit of the Second Vatican Council, which spoke about priests being formed intellectually, spiritually, humanly and culturally. For me it was a new world here at the Seminary that I discovered.”
Rector Father Juan Javier said he was pleased to experience first-hand what he had only heard about Saint Vincent.
“In every sense I can say Saint Vincent is a great example of a Benedictine abbey which represents to the world what a monastery ought to be,” he said. “It is very important to see Saint Vincent well-integrated into the life of the local church and into the life of local community and culture.” He pointed out another important affiliation between the institutions, namely, the Saint Benedict Education Foundation, which helps support the education of Benedictine men and women studying at Sant’ Anselmo. The foundation is based at Saint Vincent.
“The affiliation of the Seminary and Sant’ Anselmo continues the cooperation and mutual benefits which Saint Vincent and Sant’ Anselmo offer one another,” Father Juan Javier said. “We have come to make a visit to deepen the connection. We expect much from Saint Vincent and they expect much from us.”
Father Eduardo, who is from Saint Ottilien Archabbey in Germany, not far from Metten Abbey, where Saint Vincent has its roots, said he expected similarities between the two archabbeys, “but the reality went beyond what I could imagine.” There is a line of text in the Rule, he said, where Saint Benedict talks about divine service.
“When I thought about what divine service means here,” he said. “I can see it in every aspect of the Seminary, the College, the Parish. It embraces the entire community at large in its liturgy and daily life, an important aspect of the Church not normally seen in Europe.”
Bishop Trautman, on this occasion, said he thought about his special friend, the late Father Demetrius Dumm, a Scripture scholar and monk of this Archabbey. “Father Demetrius prepared for the priesthood at Saint Vincent Seminary. He received his doctorate in theology at Sant’ Anselmo and also studied at Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem before returning home to teach at Saint Vincent Seminary for almost 50 years. He served as vice rector and rector for 17 years, and he still found time to author many books.
“I mention Father Demetrius because he represents the best in both traditions—the tradition of Sant’ Anselmo and Saint Vincent Seminary,” Bishop Trautman said. “May our Holy Father, Saint Benedict, who guided and strengthened his monks in founding and sustaining Sant’ Anselmo and Saint Vincent, bless this affiliation and prosper the institutions it serves.”
“The new academic affiliation of Saint Vincent Seminary with the Pontifical Athenaeum of Sant’ Anselmo is a development that brings together two Benedictine institutions in a formal manner which have long co-operated on an informal basis,” said Father Edward M. Mazich, O.S.B., of Saint Vincent Seminary. “From the day when Sant’ Anselmo first opened its doors, monks of Saint Vincent Archabbey, educated in our Seminary, have been part of the faculty and staff of the Athenaeum.
“The very first Prior, or superior, of Sant’ Anselmo, Father Adalbert Mueller, was a monk of Saint Vincent, who had studied for the priesthood in Latrobe and gone on for further studies in Europe,” said Father Edward. “Both Father Adalbert and Father Robert Monroe, another monk of Saint Vincent and graduate of our Seminary, taught at the Athenaeum. Since their time many other Benedictines from Latrobe have studied, worked, and taught at Sant’ Anselmo, and others still brought the fruits of their Roman experiences back to Saint Vincent Seminary in order to hand on this wisdom to new generations of future priests.
“As an alumnus of both Saint Vincent Seminary and Sant’ Anselmo it is an honor for me to be part of the tradition between these two ‘schools of the Lord’s service,’ (Rule of St. Benedict, Prologue, 45), conveying to my own students the wisdom and formative influence that I received from my teachers and mentors in Latrobe and Rome. As they complete their S.T.B. studies leading to an academic degree recognized by Church faculties around the world, and inherit the insights of their professors, Saint Vincent Seminary students will be reminded of the complexity, beauty, and challenge of the cultures which make up that world, and which they are called to transform through their proclamation of the Good News of the Gospel of Christ.”