The greatest Catholic missionary of nineteenth-century America," is how the late dean of American Catholic Historians, John Tracy Ellis, described Boniface Wimmer, the founder of Saint Vincent and Benedictine Monasticism in North America. Coming from the Bavarian Abbey of Metten, Wimmer came to America in 1846 to establish the Order of Saint Benedict in the New World, to evangelize the immigrants, and to preserve and strengthen their Catholic faith by providing them with pastoral care and formal education.
Numbers never tell the full story, but it is interesting to note that by 1880, only 34 years after Wimmer and his eighteen companions arrived in Pennsylvania, nearly 900 Benedictine monks and nuns were working and praying in 60 monasteries in the United States. These monastics served 138 parishes where they provided pastoral care for 44,000 souls, operated three major seminaries, six colleges, and 63 elementary schools, and educated an estimated 7,000 students.
By 1880, Benedictine monks and nuns served in 21 American dioceses and vicariates apostolic(out of a total of 70), located in 20 states and territories of the Union. Most of the Benedictine monks and nuns who carried out this work of pastoral care, evangelization, and education in nineteenth-century America regarded Boniface Wimmer as their founder and their inspiration.
Today, American Benedictines who trace their roots back to Wimmer serve in more than 20 American states, as well as in Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Colombia, Brazil, Taiwan, and Japan.
To honor the 125th Anniversary of Boniface Wimmer's death (December 2012), the Gallery inaugurated a permanent display to honor Wimmer's legacy and contributions. Made up of personal artifacts from Wimmer's life, this display in The Saint Vincent Gallery makes the person of Wimmer tangible and accessible to our generation.
To learn more about the Gallery and for hours, visit: gallery.stvincent.edu