LATROBE — Archabbot Boniface Wimmer was a "Benedictine Constantine the Great" who considered mission work and founding Benedictine monasteries the same, according to Benedictine Abbot Notker Wolf, Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Order.
Abbot Notker praised Archabbot Boniface in his keynote address at the Jan. 14 kickoff of the celebration of the bicentennial of the birth of the founder of Saint Vincent Archabbey. His talk was given during evening vespers in Saint Vincent Archabbey Basilica.
"Wimmer had a great vision of his task and his vocation," said Abbot Notker. "He worked out strategic plans to set up Benedictine monasteries in the whole of North America, from east to west, the south to the north, including Canada, not in order to increase the Benedictine statistics, but to win through Benedictines the whole continent for the church."
He said Archabbot Boniface "continued to develop new plans relentlessly throughout his life."
"‘The fervor must not be allowed to cool down,’ he writes," Abbot Notker said of the Benedictine who came to the U.S. from Germany in 1846 with 18 novices and established Saint Vincent in Latrobe.
"This may be understood in a psychological way, but it touches the real core and heart of Boniface Wimmer, his passion for Christ and his Gospel."
Abbot Notker said the words of St. Paul —"Woe to me if I do not proclaim the Gospel" from the First Letter to the Corinthians and "I am under obligation. That is why I am eager to preach the gospel also to you" in the Letter to the Romans — were appropriate to the celebration.
"It fits very well that the celebration of 200 years of Boniface Wimmer coincides with the jubilee of 2,000 years of the birth of St. Paul," Abbot Notker said. "Boniface and St. Paul are so close in their fervor, in their passion for Christ, in their strategic mindedness, their visions, their aspirations, their hardheadedness; in their endurance, perseverance, in their sufferings, sacrifices, sleepless nights. Deep in their hearts, they were one in their unending love for Christ."
A series of events have been planned throughout the bicentennial year. For information, visit www.bonifacewimmer.org.