Wehrle, Vincent de Paul
WEHRLE, VINCENT DE PAUL
Missionary, monastic founder, and bishop; b. Berg, Saint-Gallen, Switzerland, Dec. 19, 1855; d. Bismarck, ND, Nov. 2, 1941. After his ordination at the Benedictine Abbey of Einsiedeln in 1882, he spent four years as a
missionary in Arkansas and Indiana before going to Yankton, Dakota Territory, in 1886. While caring for the settlers along 275 miles of the Great Northern Railroad (1888–99), he founded St. Gall's Monastery at Devils Lake (1893). His apostolic concern for the German-speaking immigrants flocking to southwestern North Dakota led him to relocate his monastery in Richardton in 1899. The extensive spiritual and educational care that he and his monks gave to the settlers merited for him the title "Apostle of the German-Russians and German-Hungarians"—the people who formed the majority of the Catholic population in western North Dakota. Both as abbot (1904–15) and as the first bishop of the Diocese of bismarck (1910–39), he did much to preserve and deepen the faith of the settlers by personal mission preaching, circuit visitation of parishes and missions, and building churches and parochial schools. Worn out by his vigorous activities, he resigned as bishop in 1939.