Overberg, Bernard

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Educator; b. Höckel bei Voltlage, northwest of Osnabrück, May 1, 1754; d. Münster, Nov. 9, 1826. Overberg began studies for the priesthood in 1774 and was ordained at Rheine on Dec. 20, 1779. He was chaplain in Everswinkel (178083), director of the Münster normal school (1783), synodal examiner (1786), rector of the diocesan seminary and dean of Liebfrauenkirche (1809), Konsistorialrat (1816), honorary canon (1823), and Oberkonsistorialrat (1826).

In 1783 Franz von fÜrstenberg, the vicar-general, entrusted Overberg with the direction of the newly organized normal school in Münster. Overberg completely transformed the Catholic educational system in Münster, bringing it to a high degree of excellence. His pedagogical system was based on religious and moral education stressed equally with the development of teaching skills and complete mastery of subject matter. Foreseeing difficulties for the teaching religious orders in Germany, he encouraged the education of laywomen, inspiring them to regard the vocation of teaching as a true apostolate. When appointed rector of the seminary in Münster, he concerned himself especially with the moral formation of the clergy, at the same time continuing to exercise a strong influence on diocesan education through books and lectures, notably in the field of Christian doctrine.

Overberg was also a successful confessor and spiritual guide. He won the confidence of Amalia gallitzin and was instrumental in her return to the Church, remaining her lifelong friend and advisor. He also guided the priestly career of her son, Demetrius Augustine gallitzin. He influenced many contemporaries, including the convert Graf Friedrich Leopold von Stolberg; the stigmatized mystic Anna Katharina emmerich; foundresses of religious institutes: Clara fey, Franziska schervier, Pauline von Mallinckrodt; and the poets Luisa Hensel and Annette Elisabeth von Droste-Hülshoff.

Overberg's most important work is his Anweisung zum zweckmässigen Schulunterricht für die Schullehrer im Fürstentum Münster (Münster 1793, 1835; Joseph Esterhues, ed, Paderborn 1957), in which he sets forth his pedagogical aims, methods, and principles. He also wrote Die Geschichte des alten und neuen Testamentes (Münster 1799, 1889), Christkatholisches Religions-Handbuch (Münster 1804, 1827), Katechismus der christkatholischen Lehre zum Gebrauche der grösseren Schüler (Münster 1804, 1852), Katechismus der christkatholischen Lehre zum Gebrauche der kleineren Schüler (Münster 180448), and Kleiner Haussegen (Münster 1807, 1836).

Bibliography: b. overberg, Aus dem Tagebuche einer grossen Seele: Die Tagebücher Bernard Overbergs, ed. p. krÜger (Kavelaer 1937). r. stapper, Bernard Overberg als pädagogischer Führer seiner Zeit (Münster 1926). h. m. heuveldop, Leben und Wirken Overbergs (Münster 1933). h. hoffmann, Bernard Overberg (2d ed. Augsburg 1949). w. sahner, Overberg als Pädagoge und Katechet und das Arbeitsschulprinzip (Gelsenkirchen 1949). s. sudhof, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiberg 195765) 7:1319.

[m. f. laughlin]