...previous page... The college would provide the monks with requisite basics for their seminary courses in theology, specifically studies in Latin and philosophy. From almost the first year, however, Father Boniface found he needed to modify his plan, which continues to be the case to this day; that is, the need for flexibility on the part of today’s “missionaries.”

Wimmer faced three main challenges. First, while he encountered many Catholics, there were fewer German Catholic immigrants than he had believed. Secondly, some local men had hoped to study in the college but not pursue holy orders or enter into monastic life. Thirdly, the bishop of Pittsburgh asked to send his diocesan candidates for priesthood to Saint Vincent to study theology. Although these needs challenged the scarce resources of the new arrivals, Father Boniface adapted his plan to meet the needs of English-speaking Catholics (mostly Irish). He further developed a college curriculum broad enough for secular students without compromising the dynamics of a major seminary composed of diocesan and monastic seminarians. Throughout his decades as superior and then Abbot (later Archabbot) of the monastic community at Saint Vincent, Wimmer saw this pattern repeat itself. Other bishops began sending their seminarians to Saint Vincent, and more men seeking a liberal arts education without the obligations of monastic vows or priestly ordination applied to the college.

Seminary adaptations after Archabbot Boniface were in line with the trajectory he had set. Throughout its history Saint Vincent Seminary has had to address the changing cultural and pastoral needs of the lay faithful served by priests ordained from the Seminary. When Boniface Wimmer arrived in western Pennsylvania, he found more Catholics who spoke English than German. He therefore directed that seminarians studying at Saint Vincent should be proficient in both English and German. As such, they could preach and minister to parishioners of both languages. This pastoral adaptation echoed in the early twentieth century when waves of immigration from the former Austro-Hungarian Empire brought Catholics who spoke Slavic languages. Since the majority of ethnic parishes staffed by men who had studied at Saint Vincent were Slovak, the Seminary began to offer classes in that language. As Slovak-speaking Catholics assimilated into American culture and began to use English as their first language, the need for Slovak classes in the Seminary declined and in time more ...  



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