St. Benedict's Abbey
ST. BENEDICT'S ABBEY
Founded in Atchison, KS, in 1856 from st. vincentarchabbey, Latrobe, PA, by Henry lemke; became an independent priory, in 1858 and an abbey in 1876.
The purpose of the foundation, and its chief work throughout the 19th century, was to care for the spiritual needs of settlers flooding into the West. The principal mission field of the community was northeastern Kansas, southeastern Nebraska, and parts of Iowa. A number of parishes, mostly in Kansas, are still served by monks from the abbey. A mission in Mineiros, Brazil, was begun in 1961.
In 1859, the monks opened a school primarily to educate priests but also to provide better educational facilities for children of Catholic settlers. The curriculum was enlarged and modernized at the beginning of the 20th century, particularly under the guidance of Sylvester Schmitz, OSB; St. Benedict's College (Atchison, KS) was accredited by the North Central Association in 1927. By 1963, it had 19 major departments and about 700 students. The high school was moved to a separate campus south of Atchison in 1919. Called Maur Hill, it had an enrollment of 280 by the mid-20th century.
Louis Mary (Michael) fink was prior from 1868 to 1871, when he was appointed coadjutor to the vicar apostolic of Kansas. The abbots of the community have been Innocent Wolf, who was born in Schmidheim, Rhenish Prussia, April 13, 1843, elected Sept. 29, 1876, and died Oct. 14, 1922; Martin Veth, born in Dettelbach, Bavaria, Sept. 25, 1874, elected Nov. 10, 1921, and died Dec. 12, 1944; Cuthbert McDonald, born in Dublin, Ireland, July 6, 1894, and elected July 6, 1943; and Thomas Hartmann, born in Wathena, KS, June 24, 1910, and elected June 7,1962. The community in 1963 numbered 128 priests, 18 clerics, and 27 brothers.
Bibliography: p. beckman, Kansas Monks: A History of St. Benedict's Abbey (1957).