Reconstruction - School Years, 1867-1875
The first abbot of Saint Louis on the Lake was solemnly inducted into the abbatial office by Bishop G. A. Carrell, of Covington, Kentucky at St. Vincent’s abbey on May 30, 1867, left for the West on June 1 and arrived at his abbey on the 13th of that month. On July 24 following, arrived Father Augustine Burns and the cleric, Frater Alexius Edelbrock (Anthony Edelbrock had left St. Cloud for St. Vincent’s in 1859), who as Anthony Edelbrock was one of the first students of “old” St. John’s. He had come back to support the new abbot in the reorganization of the college, which during the last three years had all but gone out of existence.
Although the stone building was unassuming in appearance and fitted with few comforts, it was deemed quite an achievement forty years ago. But its isolation was considered an invaluable advantage, despite the great distance which visitors, baggage, provisions etc. had to be carried over pioneer-day roads.
Abbot Rupert Seidenbusch lost no time in placing the institution into public view and both the Wanderer (Der “Wanderer” was founded under the auspices of Very Reverend Clement Staub, OSB of St. Paul, presumably with permission of Abbot Rupert, who became abbot five months before the first issue appeared in November 1867) and Northwestern Chronicle, the only Catholic papers in the State, carried advertisements of the institution. That which appeared in the Chronicle of July 13, 1867 read as follows:
“St. John’s College. Under the charge of the Benedictine Fathers, of the abbey of St. Louis on the Lake, situated in the most healthy region of the State of Minnesota, will commence its half-year regular course of studies on the Second Day of September. Admission Fee, $5.00; Yearly Pension $175. Payable half-yearly in advance. No extra charges except for medical attendance, medicine, books and stationery. For advice address Rt. Rev. Rupert Seidenbusch, OSB, Abbot, Clinton, P. O., Stearns Co., Minn.” (Clinton, the post office name was changed after 1879 to St. Joseph.) This advertisement was launched into publicity without an editorial comment or “send-off” of any description.
On September 2, as announced, the students assembled and the machinery of the “republic of letters” was set in operation. The abbot of the monastery was ex-officio President of the college: the management, however, was in the hands of the director, also styled President, the late Father Wolfgang Northman, who since his ordination in 1865 had been pastor at St. Joseph until he was called to the College in July 1867. Frater Valentine Stimmler was disciplinarian and study-keeper. The teaching faculty consisted of Father Wolfgang Northman, Father Alexius Edelbrock (ordained September 29), Frater Valentine Stimmler, two secular clergymen, Revered Doctor Aylward (was a scholarly man, but no bishop would give him a place), Reverend J. Kearney (was here on penance, a good teacher) and a Mr. Stein (probably a priest in disguise).
The curriculum comprised the following branches: Christian Doctrine, two classes; Latin, four classes; Greek, two classes; English Rhetoric; Grammar, two classes; Elocution; Reading and Spelling, three classes; German Rhetoric; German Grammar and Reading, two classes; French, two classes; Geometry; Algebra; Arithmetic, four classes; Book-keeping, two classes; History, two classes; Penmanship; Drawing; Music – Piano, Violin, Brass Instruments, and Vocal Music.
Father Wolfgang chiefly taught Music; Father Alexius Edelbrock, Classics; Dr. Aylward, English branches; Reverend Kearney, Mathematics; Mr. Stein, German, and the student, Andrew Schiffrer – who later entered the Order as Father Vincent – Drawing.
From the range and variety of branches taught, it is evident the College from the first sought to meet the needs of the people in whose midst it was built: there was a preparatory course for the young man who was satisfied to “plough his patrimonial fields,” a book-keeping class for the youth preparing for commercial pursuits, a classical course for aspirants to the learned professions. That some of these classes enjoyed a very slender attendance, may easily be imagined. A special theological department had not yet been organized, but there were two students for the course – Joseph B. Cotter and Frater Valentine, OSB, who received private instruction in theology and kindred branches. Fifty-one students were enrolled during this year; they are: Abb, John; Beez, Joseph; Betzold, Joseph; Bohn, William; Brennan, William; Broker, Ignatius; Corrigan, Severin; Cotter, Joseph B.; Crever, Constantine; DeMeules, Louis; Doheny, Walter; Donovan, James; Dreher, Otto; Erkens, Frederic; Greven, Ignatius; Griebler, Francis; Helhacke, Joseph; Hemmisch, Matthew; Hofbauer, John; Huhn, Martin; Just, G.; Kerst, Conrad; Latsch, Francis; Leuthard, Joseph; McIntire, Martin; Mitsch, George; Moosbrugger, Anthony; Muggli, Edward; Pendy, Alexander; Pendy, John; Pross, William; Reiss, George; Reitmeyer, Vincent; Robbers, Henry; Schaller, Francis; Schiffrer, Andrew (later Vincent Schiffrer, OSB); Schleper, Tobias; Schmit, Anthony; Schmoeger, Max; Schott, Martin; Schwartz, Frank; Shanley, John; Sheare, Sylvester; Simonitsch, Matthew; Stimmler OSB, Valentine; Stockard, John; Tenvoorde, William; Walz, Joseph; Watry, Dominic; Weitzel, Joseph; and Williams, Charles.
Of these, John Abb is a priest of the diocese of Green Bay and chaplain of St. Vincent’s Hospital in that city; Severin J. Corrigan, is a well known Western physicist and astronomer, in St. Paul; L. J. DeMeules, a former president of the St. John’s Alumni Association, is traveling salesman for the house of G. R. Newell, Minneapolis, and resides at St. Cloud; Otto Dreher for many years was teacher and organist at St. Joseph’s Church, Chicago; now retired from service; Frederic Erkens, whose son, Father Albert, is the present Director of St. John’s, lives in Portland, Oregon; J. Shanley is Bishop of Fargo, North Dakota; George Mitsch subsequently graduated from a college of Pharmacy in Philadelphia, was proprietor of a drug store in St. Paul, also for some time Fire Commissioner of that city and President of the St. John’s Alumni Association, he is still among the living; Vincent Reitmeyer died as a member of the Society of Jesus, April 17, 1888 at Santa Clara, California; John Hofbauer, distinguished for his musical attainments, entered the Benedictine Order and after many years of useful service at the institution, died July 17, 1901. Joseph Leuthard, known in the Order as Father Meinrad, fell a victim during the small pox epidemic at Melrose November 28, 1881. Frank Schwartz, in the Order Frater Edmund, died of consumption before ordination November 17, 1872. Frater Valentine Stimmler, for a number of years pastor of various congregations in Stearns County and in St. Paul (1875-87) is chaplain in a convent at Frontenac, Minnesota. Dominic Watry, who was Frater Placidus in the Order, died in the second year of his priesthood, August 25, 1876. Martin McIntire and Max Schmoeger died before they had finished their classical course. Anthony Moosbrugger became a prominent County official of Stearns County and died 1897. J. B. Cotter is Bishop of Winona. Conrad Kerst of St. Paul, died 1891. Frank Schaller has made St. John’s his home and is still in the employ of the institution.
Classes began to recite at an early hour in the morning and each recitation consumed one hour. An oral examination was held semiannually. One day each week – Thursday – was allotted for recreation, for which there was ample room in the broad forest and on the lake.
One of the students of 1868, C. J. Williams, thus describes conditions at and about St. John’s: “Things were primitive in those days at that temple of learning. I remember this because on the morning after my arrival I heard of an Indian encampment along the lake shore, some half mile distant from the college and being of an investigating turn of mind, resolved to visit it forthwith, which I did. On my return I was informed that I had been out of ‘bounds.’ In the guilelessness of my childish nature, I asked where the line ran. As it was as imaginary as a parallel of longitude and much harder to find, and as it was easier for the authorities to forgive me than to answer my question, I was excused.
Our baseball grounds were at the college gate. They were constructed like an angry porcupine’s back. The frantic efforts of a fielder to chase down a ball in its crazy career through the array of maple stumps with which the diamond was studded, would be a revelation to the champions at St. John’s today. The multiplicity of caroms was appalling. There was some relief for the outs in the rule which retired a base runner hit by a batted ball, for the man whose prowess at the home plate had sent the sphere on its wild course, was apt to find it going toward him before he got very far on his journey. The woodsman’s ax has changed the face of nature in that locality now. I am reminded that sergeant John Pendy (see list above) of the St. Paul police, used to handle that implement very artistically and effectively. When the boys discovered a particularly obnoxious monarch of the forest. John’s Celtic brawn and genius was called into requisition, and like his ancestors in the old land, he cleared the way.”
In this way Mr. Williams continues unraveling the web of the past, describing impressions and experiences of a young man on the alert to mingle the monotony of class routine with all the enjoyments nature offered. The lake, especially, fascinated him and here is his account of an experience. “It was upon this lake that I had my first experience in fish-spearing. My entire loss of taste for fish dates from this hour. I don’t know why it was necessary to choose a dark, dismal shivery night for the purpose, but such it was. A ‘scow’ boat was used for transportation, probably because it was slower and could impart more doleful misery to its freight than any other known vessel. It was rowed by the unhappy oarsmen with an action and effect like that of an unreliable lever worked on a wobbly fulcrum against an obstinate counter force. The moving spirit of the expedition stood, like ancient Neptune with his trident at the prow, only in fuller dress; he did the spearing. It is always necessary in order to clear the spear of its catch, to slop a quart of thirty degree lake water in your neighbor’s shoe or down his neck or to fondle him on his cheek with the slimy spoil. This I learned that night. I also learned the larger kind of turtle was a social animal, but of uncertain temper and with an unconquerable desire to hold on to something. The turtle is partial to fingers. After several hours of “sport” in company with the rest I regained the college, tired, wet, cold and sleepy, and with an uncomfortable knowledge that my appetite was wide awake and the butler fast asleep. Ever after I declined participating in this exhilarating pastime, preferring to spend my evenings with pagan poets whose society was a joyful relief after the company of a madman who wielded a successful fish-spear at night.” (From the Saint John’s University Record, vol. II, p.22)
The lake had many attractive and many secluded haunts, each of which was dubbed with a special name – Caesar’s Bay, Meier’s Bay, Ignatius Lake (not St. Ignatius Lake, it was named for one of the earliest brother (1857 or 1858) who took a “claim” there; he returned East), Doctor’s Island. The name of this little island, upon which a chapel was built in 1873, was given in memory of Dr. Aylward, who, it seems, did not disdain to partake in the simple sports of that day. One report attributes the origin of the name to the Doctor’s catching a 30-pound (?) fish near the island: another, that he dropped his gold-rimmed spectacles into the waves off the island and never recovered them.
There was at least one great festivity during the school year. Abbot Rupert Seidenbusch had gone to Europe before the college was opened in September 1867 and returned in April 1868. Faculty and students conspired to make his return memorable. They decorated the building with inscriptions, transparencies and garlands; the brass band, composed of some six pieces, took position in the bell turret and with the perennially soothing strains of “Home Sweet Home” gladdened his second entrance into the institution. Bonfires brightened the sky in the evening.
Towards the end of June examinations were held, the results of which were published in the Northwestern Chronicle, issue of June 27, and of Der Wanderer of the same date. The Roll of Honor was headed by the name of John Shanley, followed by that of Martin McIntire. The relative excellence of the students in each class was marked by the terms “most distinguished” and “distinguished.” Honors were awarded in thirty-six classes.
June 24th was Commencement day or as it was familiarly called “Exhibition” day; for it was one of the fashions of the age to make an impressive demonstration at the close of the school term. The students were prepared to make a fine exhibition but there was no hall for the great audience, no stage for themselves. A shady, sheltered place was selected on the south side of the building, towards the lake; here a stage was hurriedly improvised that savored of the best features of the early Grecian theater. The Northwestern Chronicle reported the event in its issue of July 4, as follows: “On Monday of last week the first annual exhibition of St. John’s College, situated in Clinton, Stearns County, Minnesota, took place under the most flattering circumstances. About 350 persons were assembled to witness the performance, which we are informed was highly creditable to both students and teachers. The Band belonging to the College, but a few months in existence discoursed most excellent music on the occasion. The exercises commenced at 9 o’clock A.M. The following is the programme in full:
Overture, St. Cloud Orchestra
Introductory address: Joseph Cotter
“Cherry Bounce”: a comic piece performed by M. Huhn, F. Griebler, C. Kerst, H. Robbers, G. Mitsch, I. Broker
Violin Solo by J. Hofbauer
A treatise on History by J. Shanley
Duet (comic) – F. Griebler and J. Hofbauer
Nante Strumpf (German comic) – performed by F. Schwartz, A. Moosbrugger and D. Watry
Music by the Orchestra
Violin Solo by J. Hofbauer
Duet “Hear Me Norma” by F. Griebler and J. Hofbauer
Harvest Storm (a drama) performed by W. Brennan, J. Donovan, C. Williams, C. Crever, J. Greven, F. Schwartz, J. Shanley, G. Reis, Joseph Waltz and J. B. Cotter
Music by the Orchestra
Die Vogelorgel (a German farce) performed by A. Moosbrugger, F. Schwartz, G. Reis
Duet (Departing Friends) by Griebler and Hofbauer
Music by the Orchestra
Farewell address by A. Moosbrugger
Music by the Orchestra
Vacation began; the students departed for their homes; the Band went to St. Paul and furnished the music for the picnic of the Assumption parish on July 4th. There was no vacation at the College, however. The stone building had grown too narrow; an extension was added to the north side. Boulder construction was abandoned for brick, which were manufactured in the immediate vicinity of the institution. The addition was 100 x 40 feet, with cellarage, two stories and an attic. The style was severely simple—anything more elaborate would have been out of keeping with the wild grandeur of surrounding nature. For some time the first floor of the addition (at present the southern wing) to which a story was added after the cyclone of 1894, served as a dining room for the students, the second floor as study halls and the attic as a dormitory and trunk room.
The new building was not finished when the next class arrived in September. It was under roof, however, by November and was partly occupied. Two months after opening there were sixty-five students in attendance. (Der Wanderer, November 7, 1868) With the increase of accommodations, the rates for tuition were also raised: the sum payable for annual tuition was now $180; for instruction in music and use of the instrument per session, $10.
It is a mistake to suppose the institution grew wealthy on such an income, for a number of the ecclesiastical students whose expenses were paid from diocesan seminary collections were given the benefit of a lower rate and there were not a few poor students who were unable to offer any pecuniary compensation whatever.
The staff of professors was increased by the arrival, in March 1869, of Frater Ulric Northman, a brother of Father Wolfgang Northman and, like him, an accomplished musician. The students, Messieurs J. B. Cotter and R. Haase, were employed to teach penmanship and drawing.
A theological seminary was organized in the fall of 1868. The first students were Messieurs J. B. Cotter, R. Haase, J. Hesse, J. Holzer, J. McGlone and the two clerics, Frater Valentine and Frater Ulric. Frater Valentine was ordained a priest in March. Father Alexius was instructor in Moral Theology and several other branches in the course, and Dr. Aylward in Dogmatic Theology. Dr. Aylward died on Good Friday, 1887 at St. Patrick’s rectory, Montreal.
In March 1869, the State Legislature authorized the institution to confer degrees. The Act is entitled “An Act to authorize the Trustees of Saint John’s Seminary to confer degrees and grant diplomas,” and specifies:
Sec. I. That the board of trustees of St. John’s Seminary shall have the power to confer such degrees and grant such diplomas in their discretion as are usual in colleges and universities.
Sec. II. This act shall take effect immediately.
APPROVED MARCH 5, 1869 (Special Laws of Minnesota, 1869, p.363)
St. Patrick’s day was celebrated with as much magnificence as the simplicity of the West afforded. A report in the Northwestern Chronicle says: “The professors and students of the college, together with the Brothers of the Abbey celebrated St. Patrick’s day by attending High Mass in the morning, dispensing with study and labor during the day and indulging in the thoughts and memories that spontaneously spring up as the hallowed associations of the past or the fond hopes for the future presented them to view. At 4 P.M. all sat down to an entertainment gotten up expressly for the occasion by the faculty of the institution and which was in every way worthy of the day, the place and those who presented it. During the feast the college band discoursed sweet music and the choir burst forth with the most rapturous songs, the joy of the college students celebrating, the eloquent and appropriate remarks of the speakers, the feast of reason and flow of soul of the professors, taken altogether served to transplant all into an enchanted place, where a spring of perpetual youth washed away all the ills that flesh is heir to.” Which report, incidentally, bears witness that in those cradle days there were some scribes possessed of no mean skill in blarney.
There was about this time a pet bear at the college: he answered to the name of Muro, was droll and playful and enjoyed the freedom of the place. Gus Beaulieu was his trainer. Muro would appear on the scene, in season and out of season, in the dining room, in the classroom, in the dormitory. During the two years of his sojourn here he had not been known to do any harm, and every human being had instinctively been kind to him. Towards the end of the school year, on June 2, one of the students, Sylvester Sheare of St. Paul, happened to be playing with the beast; he struck the animal which, infuriated by such unusual treatment, pursued him, overtook him at the lakeshore and bit him in the throat. The boy died almost immediately and was taken to St. Paul for interment June 5. Muro was promptly put out of existence by a musket shot.
This sad episode cast a gloom over the closing weeks of the term, and seems to be the reason why the celebration of St. Boniface day (June 5) was omitted this year. Nevertheless, the semi-annual examinations were held and the academic year was solemnly closed by an exhibition on St. John’s day, June 24. A report of the results of the examination was published in the Northwestern Chronicle.
In a spacious hall erected for the purpose near the lake about 700 (?) visitors had assembled. The programme included: “The Plot of Potzentausend, a comedy; “Nach Cayenne,” a farce; “A Sudden Arrival,” a farce; speeches and musical selections, followed by the distributions of “premiums.” Among the visitors at the College during the annual commencement were the Right Reverend Bishop Grace, who arrived at the College from St. Joseph, where he had officiated at the ceremony of laying in the cornerstone of the new church [on this occasion we had present Bishop Grace, his future successor, John Ireland; the future Bishop of Duluth, McGolich; the future Bishop of Winona, Cotter; and the future Bishop of Jamestown, Shanley]; Reverend John Ireland, St. Paul, Reverend James Golrick, of Minneapolis and several Benedictine Fathers from various points in Stearns County.
During this year there were enrolled 84 students, 40 of whom were preparing for the sacred ministry and the rest for secular pursuits. Among the students were, “Gus” Beaulieu, some time deputy United States Marshal and known as “the watchdog of the Chippewas” in the Indian country; John Caulfield, Secretary of the St. Paul Water Company; Francis Cotter, brother of Joseph Cotter; William Markoe, who is prominent in Catholic movements in the West and is a frequent contributor to Catholic papers and magazines; Francis Mershman, who has been connected with the College as a professor ever since; and Nicholas Steil [professor of drawing] at present Father Gregory, Sub Prior of the Abbey.
The two buildings hitherto occupied by the College soon proved close quarters. It was desirable to have the ecclesiastical seminary entirely separated from the other departments; moreover, there was no sufficient supply of recitation rooms and, above all, it was necessary to separate the monastery from the school. Work was begun on a new building in the summer of 1869, but such difficulties were encountered in digging for the foundation that work proceeded slowly and the building was not ready for use until fall 1871.
In October 1869 four new members of the Order arrived: Fraters Vincent Schiffrer, Edmund Schwartz, Bernard Locnikar and Alphonse Kuisle, who had just finished the year of novitiate at St. Vincent’s. These, together with Fraters Boniface Moll and Simplicius Wimmer [no relation of Abbot Boniface Wimmer], who had arrived in June, formed a welcome addition to the staff. A correspondent informs Der Wanderer (issue of November 20, 1869) that the attendance by November 14 was 78; that the quarterly examination had just been held and the reports sent to the parents of the students.
New Year’s Day 1870 was saddened by the death of Max Schmoeger, one of the most exemplary and popular students of the classical course. From a brief obituary written for the press by Frater Boniface Moll, it appears that Schmoeger was in the twenty-second year of his age when he died. He had left his parents and home in Europe in February 1869 with the intention of becoming a religious and a priest, but a short and severe illness cut him off in the flower of his youth. He rests in the common cemetery at St. John’s. Many years later his aged mother begged that a flower or some dust from the grave be sent her, that she might have some remembrance of her child that slept in a far distant country.
On February 9 there was a public disputation, or debate, conducted by the seminarians in presence of the Right Reverend Abbot and faculty. Nine theses covered questions relating to the marks of the Church, its infallible teaching authority, the Primacy of St. Peter and the authority and infallibility of the Roman Pontiffs. Record is also extant of a debate on February 24 of the question, Resolved, that capital punishment should be abolished. The disputants were J. B. Cotter, President of the Grace Literary Association, supported by two assistants, for the affirmative and J. Keenan with similar support, for the negative; while Father Wolfgang presided and decided the debate upon its merits.
St. Patrick’s Day was not forgotten: High Mass was sung in the morning and the Right Reverend Abbot preached in the afternoon. Later there were speeches, songs and instrumental music.
On May 8 young Ignatius Hole in the Day – or Fairday, as his name appears in the college books – son of the famous Chippewa chief who was killed in 1868, and at the time a student at St. John’s, was baptized by Reverend I. Tomazin. On the same occasion the student Robert Kelly received the sacrament of baptism; his father was present during the ceremonies.
The St. Boniface Literary Association, which was founded in the fall of 1869, prepared a celebration of the great Apostle of Germany on June 6. “Spectator” informs the press that the Association then had about forty members. In the morning of the feast the entire student body attended at solemn High Mass and the members of the Association received Holy Communion. The afternoon was pleasantly spent in a picnic with music and declamations on the Eirenesos (Isle of Peace), known later as the “British Isles.”
It had hitherto been customary to close school for the summer on St. John’s day, June 24; the present year was an exception, for the exhibition took place on June 28. Several hundred people from the neighboring country flocked in to witness the event. Rain early in the morning threatened to mar the joy of the day, but the sun blazed out from behind the clouds towards midday and the exhibition began. The students, preceded by the flag and band, marched to the hall where an entertainment was given, followed by the distribution of premiums (books).
For the first time in the history of the College an Annual Catalogue was issued this year. It was a neat little publication from the press of The Wanderer, St. Paul, and in its 24 pages affords an insight into the doings of the College thirty-seven years ago. In the opening statement is to be found the information that “St. John’s is situated at a distance of eighty-six miles from St. Paul, seventy-four miles of which are accessible by the St. Paul & Pacific Rail Road, the remaining twelve miles by stage or private conveyance.” St. Joseph, the nearest town, was the station for mail; there was no railway or telegraph line west of the river as yet. The attractiveness of the locality is described thus: “The highly picturesque grounds of the College border to the south on a beautiful lake, six miles in circumference and abounding in fish. To the west is Lake Watab from which flows the Watab River, beautiful in its windings through the valleys as the Peneus through the Thessalian Tempe of old.” It announces that “the main building now under construction, will be completed this year. It will be one hundred feet long by fifty feet wide and four stories in height. It is almost superfluous to add that the play grounds are more than ample enough for all kinds of recreation.”
Under the heading of “Regulations” were rules regarding degrees, examinations and quarterly reports, permission to leave College during the term, use of tobacco, and mail. The “Terms” for a session of five months were: for Tuition and Board, $90; for Washing and Bedding, $5; for Drawing, $3; for Music and use of instruments, $10. Not unfrequently colleges in those days specified with what articles of clothing and other effects the student should be furnished when entering school: some required that the student should furnish his own bedding; one, at least, suggested that each pupil have a full supply of postage stamps. In the catalogue under consideration is the provision: Every student must be provided with four suits of clothing, differing according to the seasons: six shirts, six pairs of stockings, six pocket-handkerchiefs, six towels, tow pairs shoes or boots, two pairs slippers, clothes and blacking brushes, and one pair swimming drawers.” Fortunately, the pupil whose purse did not permit him to set up a wardrobe of such magnificent proportions as indicated in the above suggestion, was not refused admission.
The “Course of Studies” is concisely stated on one page: it comprised three divisions – the Elementary School, the Classical Course, and the Theological Course. In the Elementary School instruction was given in Spelling, Reading, Penmanship, Arithmetic and Catechism. No time was specified in which this course could be finished; students were advance into the other courses as their attainments warranted. The collegiate or Classical course comprised six classes: the Sixth, or lowest, was styled the First Class of Elements, and it was followed by the Second Class of Elements, Humanities, Poetry, Rhetoric and Philosophy. The branches studies in the lowest class of this course were Latin grammar, English grammar, German grammar, Bible History, Geography and Arithmetic. The Latin course was finished in five years; also the English and German courses. History was a subject throughout the entire course. Arithmetic was finished in the second year, Algebra in the fourth; Geometry and Trigonometry were the highest branches of mathematics taught and occupied the fifth year. Greek was introduced in the third year and Rhetoric in the fourth. For students who did not intend to prepare for the ministry there was a class in Bookkeeping. The first, or highest class studied mental and moral Philosophy.
The theological course comprised Dogmatic and Moral Theology, Ecclesiastical History and Sacred Scripture, and was finished in three years.
In the list of the Faculty, Father Wolfgang Northman is styled President and Father Alexius Edelbrock, Vice President; Father Valentine Stimmler and Frater Edmund Schwartz are mentioned as disciplinarians. Father Uric Northman is mentioned as professor of Music, Latin, History etc.; his name is followed by that of Reverend J. Meurs, a secular clergyman; then follow four younger members of the Order, Fraters Boniface, Simplicius, Alphonse and Bernard (subsequently abbot and president). Mr. J. B. Cotter was employed as professor of Arithmetic and Penmanship, Mr. J. B. Nealis, as professor of Algebra; Mr. W. Brennan, of Arithmetic, Mr. F. Mershman, of Geometry, Messieurs J. Keenan and J. Leuthard as professors of Bookkeeping and Mr. N. Steil as teacher of Drawing and Architecture.
Although the institution had been authorized to confer degrees early in 1869, the right had not hitherto been exercised. On June 24, 1870 the degree of Master of Arts was conferred on Frater Boniface Moll and the degree of Bachelor of Arts on Frater Simplicius Wimmer, Alphonse Kuisle, Bernard Locnikar and Messieurs J. B. Cotter and J. Nealis, both of St. Paul, Minnesota.
Three student organizations are noticed in the Catalogue: the Sodality of the B.V.M., the Grace Literary Association and the St. Boniface Literary Association. A special chapter will be devoted to the history of the various organizations, religious, literary, musical and dramatic.
Space is also given the program of the “Third Annual Exhibition,” the leading features of which, aside from the music, were the Introductory Address by J. Caulfield: two farces, “The People’s Lawyer” and “Lord McDonald”; a Latin essay on the utility of Philosophy by Mr. V. Reithmeyer, a Greek oration on Virtue by W. Maehren and a French essay by N. Steil on the Study of Languages; the Valedictory was delivered by J. B. Cotter.
Then follows the Catalogue of Students who were in attendance during the academic year 1869-70. It contains 94 names: 12 for the ecclesiastical and 82 for the classical course. Four of the Seminarians were destined to exercise the ministry in the diocese of St. Paul and one in the Vicariate Apostolic of Colorado. Of the classical students the bulk was furnished by Minnesota; the states of Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Kentucky were also represented. Premiums were awarded in 18 branches and 40 classes.
The following school year was inaugurated in the second week of September by a Solemn High Mass celebrated by the Reverend President; after which the rules and statutes of the College were read and explained by the President and classes began. Scanty shreds of history remain of this year. On October 5, feast of St. Placid, the students marched to St. Joseph in a body. A venerable old diary tells us there was midnight Mass on Christmas and that on three days following, Frater Boniface Moll received the higher Orders in St. Paul by Bishop Grace.
The number of students in attendance was gratifying: a correspondent of the press says there were 67 in attendance in the first week in October.
When Pius IX had been despoiled of his temporalities in 1870 by Victor Emmanuel and the Papal States had been pronounced a part of united Italy, millions of faithful Catholics raised their voices in protest against this act of violence. The “first protest from Minnesota” was drawn up and adopted at a meeting of the faculty and students of St. John’s. The document fills nearly two columns of Der Wanderer (January 21, 1871) and reads in part: “At a meeting of the superiors, faculty and students of St. John’s College, on Sunday January 15, 1871 to express their sympathy with the Holy Father, addresses were delivered, a subscription of $44.65 was taken up, and the following protest read and adopted:
“We the abbot, superiors, professors and students of Saint John’s College with utmost aversion behold the injustice done our Holy Father by Victor Emmanuel, the so-called king of Italy, and therefore we raise this solemn protest against the sacrilegious injustice and detestable robbery. We hope that every lover of justice, whatever his creed may be, will join us in raising a voice of protest against this injustice; an injustice, a robbery greater than any that has ever degraded the human race. In making this protest, we maintain that no potentate of Europe wears the crown with such a well established right as the Pope, whose title to the Patrimony of Peter dates from the gray past and is therefore venerable and sacred. The Holy Father does not hold this Patrimony for his own personal emolument, but for the benefit and interest of the entire Catholic world....In union with 200 millions of Catholics we protest and assert that the injustice done the Holy Father, his rights, privileges and immunities arouses in us the same feelings as if our own and personal property had been in question.”
It is an eloquent and vigorous denunciation of a wrong that deeply affects the entire Catholic communion and stands as a monument of the zeal and loyalty of the class of 1871.
On March 4 died the scholastic Martin McIntire after an illness of twenty weeks. At 7 a.m. of March 7 the Office of the Dead was recited by the community, after which there was a solemn Requiem Mass, followed by a sermon by Father Alexius. The Right Reverend Abbot officiated at the burial. [This was the second death of a student here. The cemetery was on the site of the tennis courts, and was in 1875 enclosed by a white picket fence no more than about 30 x 30 square. The present cemetery was opened 1876 and the bodies were removed to it from the old one.]
A Requiem was sung March 16 for a student, Michael Gruber of St. Joseph, Minnesota, who had died of typhoid fever at his home.
The chapel furniture was increased by the installment of a reed organ of French manufacture on March 20. It did good service in the humble chapel and as late as 1886 in the present church. Fathers Wolfgang Northman and Ulric Northman were both able organists.
St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated by a solemn High Mass, but as it fell on a Friday in Lent, the secular celebration was transferred to Tuesday following, which was the feast of St. Benedict. On May 18, six students, among them the Indian Chief Ignatius Hole-in-the-Day, received their first Holy Communion. June 16, was the feast of the Sacred Heart and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the election of Pope Pius IX. There was solemn High Mass by Prior Benedict, Father Alexius Edelbrock and Frater Alphonse Kuisle. Father Alexius preached an appropriate sermon and the celebration was closed with a Te Deum. [probably the German hymn “Grosser Gott!”]
The closing exercises of the academic year took place on June 28. According to the catalogue, which in its main features is similar to that of the preceding year, the staff of professors was composed of seventeen members. The only degree conferred this year was that of Bachelor of Arts upon Messieurs Timothy Murphy, Vincent Reitmeyer and William Brennan. The program of Exhibition Day included music, vocal and instrumental, two comedies, “The Photograph” and “My Cousin Coming Forth From His Rural Retreat” and orations in four different languages. Francis Cotter delivered the introductory address and Joseph Schulte the valedictory. During the year the total enrollment of students was 96, of whom 15 were in the theological and 81 in all the other courses.
On September 7, work was resumed: the staff had been increased by six members, Fraters Meinrad Leuthard, Placidus Watry, Francis Mershman, Pancratius Maehren, Paul Rettenmaier and Aloysius Hermanutz. Frater Meinrad had taken a special course in an Eastern business college [Duffy’s in Pittsburgh. Frater Meinrad Leuthard was our first bookkeeper and conducted the Stationery Office (?) He was succeeded by Reverend Norbert Hofbauer, who returned from the novitiate in 1873 and had studies bookkeeping at the Iron City Business College, Pittsburgh. Frater Meinrad was the first to introduce “Double Entry Bookkeeping.”] and now took charge of the commercial class; Frater Francis Mershman continued to teach mathematics, Frater Pancratius Maehren organized a class in natural philosophy and fitted up a physical cabinet in the stone building, while Fraters Paul and Aloysius conducted classes in languages.
Joy and gloom alternated here as they do in the great world as well. St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated with speeches and music. In April 1872 a bowling alley was installed for the use of the students.[There were two bowling alleys, both outdoors. One near the Exhibition Hall (north of the College). The other at Chapel Island. They were not under shelter, very crude affairs.] On the 7th of the same month the scholastic John Bonne died and was buried on the local cemetery. When two days later the name day of the Right Reverend Abbot was celebrated, there was no music, in token of respect for the memory of the deceased. At the entertainment on the feast of St. Rupert, the drama “Bishop Paulinus” was performed.
For the celebration of St. Boniface day, June 5, a grove at the eastern end of the lake and for many years thereafter called Boniface Place, was selected. There, under the shade of large oaks rustic tables and benches had been set up and there, after the ecclesiastical celebration, the day was to be spent in a gleeful picnic. To the disappointment of all, a heavy rain marred this feature of the celebration and the exercises took place in the hall of the new (main) building. Addresses were delivered in German by Frater Bernard Locnikar, Frater Aloysius Hermanutz and Messieurs, John Winter and Frank Schlick and a vocal quartet filled the intervals with selections.
“On June 26,” says a correspondent of Der Wanderer (July 6, 1872), “an exhibition was held at St. John's College. Many friends of the institution had appeared to witness the closing act. All lived in hopes that it would be a fine day, for, it is said, every carriage in St. Cloud had been engaged on the day before, but alas! at three o'clock in the morning of the 26th it began to thunder, lightning and rain. The storm did not interfere with the customary High Mass, at which Father Alexius Edelbrock officiated, assisted by Father Valentine Stimmler and Frater Bernard. At the end of the service, prospects for a pleasant day were still doubtful. What is most surprising is that the visitors who had not yet arrived were not deterred by the bad weather, but came despite rain and almost impassable roads. About one o'clock p.m. the sky grew clear, and the doors of the new Exhibition Hall were thrown open.” This new hall was a plain frame structure on slightly rising ground northeast of the College, was 110 ft. long by 30 wide, without any interior finish, but equipped with a spacious stage, drop curtain and scenery. It served as an Exhibition Hall and for other gatherings as late as 1881 but was torn down in 1892.
The program consisted of musical selections, essays, a sacred drama “Joseph in Egypt,” the drama “Paulinus, Bishop of Nola” (in German) and a farce, “The Naturalist.” Master Herman Erren pronounced the introductory address and Mr. P. Kenny the valedictory. Among the essayists were Mr. Alexander Christie, the present Archbishop of Portland and Mr. Max Wurst, later rector of St. Felix’s Church, Wabasha, Minnesota. The catalogue of 1872 records the names of 22 professors and 106 students; of the latter, 20 were in the theological course and 86 in all the other courses. No degrees were conferred during the year.
During the vacation that followed, the clerics and scholastics who remained at the College built a chapel of brick on “Doctor's Island,” which was henceforth to be called by the title of the chapel “Maris Stella.” The building material was carried to the island on boats: on July 11, at four o'clock p.m. the cornerstone was placed in position by Frater Vincent Schiffrer and by the end of July the neat structure was finished. It was about 16 ft. long by 12 ft. wide, in the Gothic style, with ornamental brickwork and a wooden spire, which was painted white. For some reason the interior was not finished at the time and no services were held in it. If it served no other purpose, it lent a soft charm to the landscape, as it gleamed from its deep green setting of foliage and was mirrored in the calm waters at its foot. In 1889 a floor was laid in it, the walls were plastered, a small altar erected and several pictures hung on the walls. Many a stroller on a summer's afternoon found his way to the humble shrine and spent a few moments in devotion to Our Lady of the Lake. The chapel was destroyed by fire in April 1903.
Father Alexius Edelbrock was appointed President of the College at the opening of the school year. Father Wolfgang remained at the institution for some time after retiring from office, continuing to teach music and other branches.
Class work was resumed on September 7th, but the formal opening, reading of the rules, etc. did not take place before the 9th. In the early days of the school year, September 29th, Frater Simplicius Wimmer and Mr. John Nealis, were ordained priests. Both are now dead: Reverend John Nealis died in 1885 and Father Simplicius on August 5,1905. On September 30th, the students played a match game of baseball at St. Joseph: there is no record of the score.
On October 3rd, a solemn Requiem was sung for a deceased sodalist and former student, Christian Gassner, who had died of small pox at Chicago. The Sodality with pious solicitude has never in the long course of years failed to afford what solace it could to its deceased members, and the above instance is mentioned as typical of its practice in this respect.
It is characteristic of the students of that day that they helped themselves and did not like, the redoubtable Captain of Plymouth, “leave it to others,” even in such an unromantic enterprise as leveling the campus. They plied the shovel and the pick with an energy that stimulated their appetite and made them feel proud of their handiwork.
On October 30th, the students offered their congratulations to Father Wolfgang on the eve of his name day. Addresses were delivered in Latin, German and English.
For the first time since 1860 the institution mourned the loss of one of the members of the faculty. Frater Edmund Schwartz, who had been a member of the Order since 1869 and had almost finished the studies of the theological course, was compelled by ill health to suspend studies. During the fall he spent a few weeks visiting his parents in LaCrosse, Wisconsin and there he died November 17. The interment took place at LaCrosse.
On November 20, 1872, Frater Bernard Locnikar, although still a cleric with Minor Orders, was appointed Vice President of the College, which office he held to the end of the academic year.
About this time the St. Vincent extension of the St. Paul & Pacific Railway Line was finished as far as Melrose. The line passed through the college lands, within a mile of tile house, but St. Joseph became and for seven years remained the nearest passenger station. It was a great convenience in every respect not only for the College but also for the missionary priests.
Early in 1873 the semiannual examinations, which consumed an entire week, were held. “Six classes – the examination of each lasting an hour – were daily disposed of.” These examinations were public for the greater part, and were held in the large study hall, in the presence of all the professors.
St. Boniface day was celebrated in the grove at Boniface Place and no rain came to dampen the pleasure of the occasion. Adam Steffes was marshal of the feast and among the speakers were J. Bassler, N. Steil, M. Wurst and Frater Simplicius Wimmer.
June 26 was Exhibition day. The exercises began at 9 o'clock and lasted almost five hours. There was music, vocal and instrumental, followed by addresses, essays and orations, besides two plays, “The Ghost,” in three acts, and “Inigo,” a German drama in four acts, after which the premiums were distributed. The author, “Minnie Mary Lee” [Mrs. Julia A. Wood] of Sauk Rapids, a frequent visitor on such occasions, wrote a report of the celebration for the Northwestern Chronicle, from which a few extracts will not be entirely devoid of interest: “St. John's, where it is, is a happy surprise,” she writes. “You may have heard its name called frequently – have heard that it was prospering, that it had many students – that it was situated some three or four miles from St. Joseph, a small town of little note – but you have no great expectations about it – the people all around about are farming community, how can anything very astonishing in the educational line have arisen in their midst? Can any good come out of Nazareth? You receive a card invitation to the exhibition. You wonder if it is really worth your while to go. Were it a hundred miles away, you would be more inclined. But right here at home? Still, there is so little of other entertainments, and you start. It is a fine road leading to St. Joseph (from St. Cloud), through fine farms. White houses with green blinds have taken the place of many a primitive shanty and log-house. Leaving St. Joseph, you take the college road which is up find down hill through a magnificent forest. The way does not seem so long, because it is so unusual a one for our State. You admire the tall, graceful trees, as do evidently also the squirrels and birds, whose twitter and music fill the air. There is a long line of carriages winding over hills in front of you and a stream behind as far as you can see. Carriages? Most of them are farm wagons, loaded to the brim with whole families ...
I had thought to tell you something of the exhibition. After all, what is in a school or college exhibition that may be particularly described? Plays and dramas in English and German, well selected and very creditably acted; orations in Greek, Latin, French, German and English, and oh! such music, both plaintive and lively, and all sweet and beautiful ...
No marvel the Germans turn out in crowds: they are proud of St. John's, their sons' Alma Mater. Though they may not go elsewhere, save to Mass, for all the year, they gather up their children and make the pilgrimage. They have something to look forward to and something to remember.” And if the exhibitions of those days with all the labor they involved brightened for a few hours the lives of the good people who came to the college on such occasions, they had some reason for their being.
The catalogue, printed by the St. Cloud Press, contains few new features. Twenty professors are mentioned on the staff, among them Mr. Alexander Christie (now Archbishop of Portland.) The degree of Bachelor of Arts was conferred on Fraters Francis Mershman, Aloysius Hermanutz and Paul Rettenmaier; eight students took the degree of Master of Accounts, which was this year conferred for the first time. The first graduates of the Commercial class were Frank Schlick and William Hamm of St. Paul; J. J. Byrnes, of Faribault; Peter Fehn, of St. Michael; Thomas Young, of Arlington; Adam Steffes, of Old Mission, Iowa; William Eversmann, of St. Augusta; and Francis Cotter, of Winona. On the roll were the names of 113 students: 11 secular seminarians, 16 regular seminarians (clerics) and 86 students in all other departments – a slight increase over the last year.
Father Bernard Locnikar was succeeded in the vice-presidency of the college by Father Ulric Northman, who held the office till spring 1885. Gifted with a sympathetic nature, Father Ulric won and retained the attachment and esteem of all the students year after year. He continued to teach music and developed the musical organizations to such a degree of excellence that they received many a word of commendation from critics.
So quiet was the course of events during the school year, that chronists found little to note. The few newspaper articles still preserved are accounts of society elections, celebrations of annual recurrence or an occasional academic effort of some aspiring journalist. From this dearth of data it may be inferred that everyone was seriously at work at the daily tasks in the intellectual workshop. There were, of course, the usual quarterly examinations, the vacations, the feasts to vary the sameness of school room routine.
On exhibition day, June 24, 1874, about 600 visitors are reported to have been present: among them the Revs. Joseph Buh, Augustine Wirth, OSB, Aloysious Plut and G. Koering, and also “Minnie M. Lee,”* who has left us the following description: “Roads were fine, air pure, foliage fresh and fragrant: St. Joseph was reached shortly – thence the road to St. John's winds up hill and down, through forest as tall and southern-like, so varied and charming, so different from our usual scrub-oak tracts, that one thinks it wouldn't matter should it have no end. When, however, the blue lake is discerned through the trees and the Abbey of St. Louis On the Lake and the College buildings meet the view, one is but glad to alight and look around. Exhibition Hall, a building by itself, is constructed in a unique and original style, which to be understood needs to be seen.
“The St. John’s Brass Band has become so famous for its excellence that it need not be dwelt upon in praise. Good judges who before never listened to it were surprised and delighted. The violin performer may be regarded simply as a prodigy: one of those geniuses, which now and then arise gifted for astonishing and entertaining us every-day mortals.
“While Norma was being played, a certain lady remarked to her husband: ‘There, that is the part I never get right.’ That! You never play that! was the answer. This suggested to me that we might all aver of the music generally – we never heard that before....
“In the grove ample dinners were served to all. Friends held social converse.... Some wandered off to the lake, looking out longingly at the gleam of the white chapel among the trees on the distant island. Some penetrated without leave or license into the pretty garden, where flowers in abundance bloomed.”
* “MINNIE M. LEE” is the pseudonym of Mrs. Julia A. Wood, one of the few Catholic writers the Northwest has produced. From a sketch written at the time of her death by Mr. H. C. Waite, of St. Cloud, and published in the St. Cloud Daily Times March 10, 1903, we gather the following biographical data: Mrs. Wood was born April 13, 1825 at New London, N.H. She received a fine literary and classical education in the schools of that state and, in 1849, she was married to the late W. H. Wood, who died in 1870. With her husband, she became a resident of Sauk Rapids as early as 1851 and continued to reside there to the end of her life. Under the “nom de plume” of “Minnie Mary Lee” she assisted her husband in the editorial management of the New Era, a weekly paper published at Sauk Rapids. She was also a frequent contributor to magazines and wrote a number of books, chiefly of a controversial character, among others: “The Heart of Myrrha Lake,” “Hubert’s Wife,” “The Brown House of Duffeld,” “Strayed from the Fold,” “Story of Annette.” She was a convert to Catholicity and always remained ardently attached to her faith. She died at St. Raphael’s Hospital, St. Cloud, March 9, 1903, and was buried at Sauk Rapids.
The closing words of this report recall the garden which lay on the south side of the stone building and which was in charge of the “old gardener,” Anton Schaefer. [Not a monk, but a paid laborer who lived and died at St. John’s.] He raised not only garden-truck but bestowed some attention also on the cultivation of plums, crab apples and grapes. If there were any moments of sorrow in his life, it was either when fruits refused to grow or when uninvited guests helped themselves under the wings of night. For a quarter of a century he presided over the gardens belonging to the Abbey. The fine garden of 1874 with its pavilion and its orchard disappeared about 1886. The venerable old gardener died at St. John’s in 1898.
The catalogue of this year was printed by the St. Cloud Journal. For the first time there is mention of a Scientific Course, which, however, coincided largely with the Classical Course, did not include Latin and Greek and substituted the natural sciences. Opportunities were also given for the study of telegraphy. The number of professors was 22. The total attendance of students was 123, with 13 regular seminarians, 13 secular seminarians, 97 students in all other courses. For the first time, also, there is mention of athletics, such as boating and baseball, which will be treated in detail elsewhere in this sketch. Only the degree of Master of Accounts was conferred this year and the three graduates were James Kelly, State Senator from 1890-94, Peter Engel, the present President of St. John’s and Herman Erren, who is at present Father Othmar, OSB.
The program for exhibition day was elaborate and rather lengthy. About nine o’clock in the morning the audience sat down to witness the performance of the five-act drama “St. Louis in Chains,” which consumed almost three hours in acting. After an hour’s intermission for dinner, followed five orations and as many pieces of music and the celebration closed with the conferring of diplomas and awarding of premiums.
During this year the buildings were increased by the addition of a three-story wing-extending north from the main building.
If the attendance at a school may be considered a gauge of its excellence, the authorities had reason to congratulate themselves this year. Scarcely had two months passed before 125 names were on the rolls, and all the departments had a very gratifying number in attendance. A correspondent to a paper writes in December “that the season just passed has been in every respect singularly blessed.” From his remarks we also learn that Cecilian music was cultivated at St. John’s at that time. “The music on Christmas, as well as on the succeeding feasts, was most select and appropriate and performed in a manner which reflects great credit on the members of the choir. Witt's Mass In Honorem S. Francisci Xaverii was effectively rendered on Christmas night and Schweitzer’s Mass Op. 11 was selected for the Grand High Mass [in the little frame chapel] which was celebrated the following morning.”
In February 1875 news arrived that Abbot Rupert Seidenbusch had been selected by the Holy See as Vicar Apostolic of the newly erected vicariate of Northern Minnesota which comprised “all that part of Minnesota lying north of the southern line of Travers, Stevens, Pope, Stearns, Sherburne, Isanti, and Chisago Counties and that part of Dakota east of the Missouri and White Earth Rivers and north of the southern line of Burleigh, Logan, Lamoure, Ransom and Richland Counties.”
Although Abbot Rupert had not been in direct contact with the work of the College, he was well known to the student body and enjoyed their esteem and veneration. He had been witness of their work and spoke many a word of paternal encouragement to them. Much as all were proud of his elevation they keenly regretted that he was to leave St. John’s. On May 4 he resigned the abbatial office and on May 30 received Episcopal consecration in the Church of the Immaculate Conception, St. Cloud, at the hands of Bishop Heiss of LaCrosse who was assisted by Bishops Louis M. Pink OSB and Joseph Dwenger.
On the following day these Right Reverend prelates and also Bishops Mrak and Hennessy and a number of priests who had assisted at the consecration ceremonies visited St. John’s, where they were given a reception and serenade.
Abbot Rupert Seidenbusch was succeeded in office on June 2 by Father Alexius Edelbrock, who had been identified with the work of the institution since 1867. The second abbot of St. Louis on the Lake had been a student of “old St. John’s” during the first two years of its existence, had fled from Minnesota because his father opposed his intention of studying for the priesthood, and had entered St. Vincent’s College in 1859, where he finished the classical course and became a member of the Order in 1864. Three years later he followed Abbot Rupert to Minnesota and since that day had given his best efforts to the promotion of the college. Its growth up to this time was in great measure due to him and he was no stranger to the task to which he was now set.
On June 24th the commencement exercises took place. They were graced by the presence of Bishop Rupert Seidenbusch who on the morning of that day for the first time administered the sacrament of Confirmation to a class of twenty-five students. The exhibition exercises, as in the preceding year, occupied a good part of the day, A Christian drama: “Sebastian; or the Roman Martyr” was performed in the forenoon and after an intermission of one hour for dinner followed a program of music and orations, and the distribution of premiums. The degree of Master of Arts was conferred on Fraters Francis Mershman and Paul Rettenmaier; that of Bachelor of Arts on seven and that of Master of Accounts on fifteen candidates.
The catalogue, printed by the Pioneer Press Co. of St. Paul, contained a lithograph [Drawing by Gregory Steil, OSB. See also in “Historical Atlas of Minnesota” of 1874] of the buildings as they were to appear in their finished state. The group standing in 1875 was to be symmetrically completed by the addition, at the northern extremity, of a building similar to the stone house at the southern end. Fortunately that plan was never carried into execution. Still the lithograph is valuable and does honor to the crayon artist. No photographic view of the buildings seems to have been taken before 1881 and no reproduction of a photographic view appeared in the catalogues before 1889. [Hill was a popular photographer in St. Cloud before 1880, but he does not appeared to have taken outdoor views. But he did photograph one or two rather good pen drawings by Father Vincent Schiffrer.]
On the list of professors are seventeen names, with a single exception members of the Order. The institution was outgrowing the primitive age when it was constrained to seek help from the outside. The total enrollment of students was 168 – 14 secular seminarians, 16 regulars, and 138 in all other courses. Of the theological students, five were ordained during the year.
From August 5-10 Bishop Seidenbusch was at St. John's and during that time, for the first time in its history, the higher Major Orders were conferred there. Candidates for Orders had hitherto been sent to St. Paul and all, with the exception of Fathers Cornelius Wittmann and Bruno Riss of whom mention was made in the opening chapter of this history, were ordained by Bishop Grace. It may be added that the abbots of the American Congregation of Benedictines are empowered to confer the Minor Orders on their own subjects. As Abbot Alexius’ elevation to the abbatial office had not yet been approved by the Holy See (it was approved August 15). Bishop Seidenbusch conferred the Minor Orders. On August 5, Fraters Gregory Steil, William Eversmann, Willibrord Mahowald and Messieurs William Brookmeyer (who subsequently became a member of the Order as Father Augustine) and John Mayer received Minor Orders. On August 6, the order of sub-deaconship was conferred on Paul Rettenmaier, Aloysius Hermanutz, Ignatus Wesseling, Bonaventure Schloeter, E. P. Schneider and P. J. Lynch. On August 8, the same candidates, together with Francis Mershman, were ordained deacons, and on August 10, Ignatius Wesseling, OSB, Bonaventure Schloeter, OSB, and Reverends E. P. Schneider and Patrick J. Lynch were ordained priests. “The event was a happy one to all concerned. On that occasion the esteemed prelate exercised, for the first time, the high prerogative of his distinguished office, sending Levites to serve at the altar and laborers to work in the Master's Vineyard: the professors witnessed with pride and pleasure, the honors conferred upon the objects of their long and anxious solicitude and regarded the event as the earthly reward of their labors and zealous care.”
On Wednesday, August 11, Father Lynch celebrated his first Mass in the College chapel.