Monday, December 12, 2011

Guests from Germany visit St. Bernard

Iwer Rosenboom and Wanda Rosenboom of Zweibrucken, Germany, visited St. Bernard during their vacation in the United States this past autumn. Wanda is the grand-niece of Fr. Benedict Oberdoerfer, O.S.B., and Br. Osmund Oberdoerfer, O.S.B., who were monks at St. Bernard in the early 1900s.

“My mother, whose maiden name was Elizabeth Oberdoerfer, was the niece of Br. Osmund and Fr. Benedict,” said Mrs. Rosenboom. “All my life I have heard stories of my great-uncles who came to America and entered a monastery in Alabama. I wanted to come and see the place and visit their graves. I have taken pictures of their grave markers and the beautiful buildings at St. Bernard to show my family when we return home.”

“There were five children in the Oberdoerfer family,” she continued. “Fr. Benedict and Br. Osmund left home and came to America and entered the Benedictine Order in Alabama. One of the great-aunts became a nun. That was Sr. Anna Oberdoerfer who stayed in Germany. She was a school teacher and was killed during the Second World War in April 1945.”

Fr. Benedict and Br. Osmund were among the monks who originally came to St. Bernard to serve the needs of the many German speaking Catholic families who settled in north Alabama in the late 1800s. Fr. Benedict arrived at St. Bernard in 1894 and his brother arrived in 1897.

Fr. Benedict spent most of his years in the classroom. He taught Latin, Greek, mathematics and chemistry. He studied at the University of Chicago and Notre Dame University where he received his Master’s degree. He was best known as a professor of chemistry, a subject he taught until two years prior to this death in 1951.

Br. Osmund, a favorite of the students, was an assistant in the dining facilities. Working in the bakery for over 30 years, he was remembered by many early alumni as the monk who brought fresh-made rolls and bread to the kitchen. He was 60 years old at the time of this death in 1940.

The Rosenbooms brought with them documents and pictures that had been kept by the Oberdoerfer family. One document showed that a memorial Mass had been offered in memory of the two monks after their deaths. They also carried with them a photograph that had been taken when Br. Osmund and Fr. Benedict had returned to Germany for a family visit.

Friday, December 9, 2011

St. Bernard Prep School Announces New Leadership Appointments

Abbot Cletus Meagher, O.S.B., and the St. Bernard Preparatory School Board of Directors announced key leadership changes during their quarterly meeting held on Friday, December 9, 2011. These changes are part of the ongoing plan for St. Bernard Abbey and School to implement the strategic plan for the overall growth and expansion of its educational and other various ministries.

Fr. Marcus Voss, O.S.B., who for the past 20 years has served as President of the Prep School as well as the Head of Development, will now be dedicated full time to the work of development. As the Director of Development and Alumni Affairs, Fr. Marcus will be responsible for the annual appeal programs, the planned giving program and the upcoming new capital campaign. In addition, Fr. Marcus will continue his work with the alumni affairs office and oversee the alumni reunion held each year in June. The Office of Marketing and Public Relations as well as the sponsorship of the annual Bloomin’ Festival will operate as part of the development office.

Fr. Joel Martin, O.S.B., who has served as Headmaster for the past 15 years, has accepted the appointment as President of St. Bernard Prep School. In his new role, Fr. Joel will be responsible for the overall operation of the school. His administrative team will include the Headmasters of the Middle School and High School, the Director of Admissions, the Athletic Director, the Directors of Residential Life, and the Business Manager. He will also have oversight for Camp St. Bernard, the English as a Second Language (ESL) Program, the School’s Physical Plant and the President’s Administrative Staff.

Mr. John Tekulve, a noted Cullman educator, has accepted the position of Headmaster of the high school division of St. Bernard Preparatory School. Mr. Tekulve had previously served as the founding Headmaster of the St. Bernard Middle School and Assistant-Headmaster of St. Bernard High School. Prior to his work at St. Bernard, Mr. Tekulve had been a highly regarded principal, assistant principal, teacher and coach in both the Cullman City and County School Systems. As Headmaster, Mr. Tekulve will be in charge of the academic, extracurricular and associated programs of the overall operation of the high school.

In announcing these new appointments, Abbot Cletus expressed his gratitude to Fr. Marcus, Fr. Joel and Mr. Tekulve for their dedicated service to St. Bernard and offered his congratulations on their new appointments. “These appointments are an effort to continue the rich legacy of past generations who devoted their lives to a love for the truth and a desire to pass on that wisdom to another generation,” said Abbot Cletus. “I am confident that Fr. Marcus, Fr. Joel and Mr. Tekulve will make a difference in the lives of the young men and women who come to St. Bernard and their efforts in their new roles will be successful.”

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Keefe attends National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine

Anna Caroline Keefe, a sophomore at St. Bernard Preparatory School, joined young scholars from across the nation by recently participating in the National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine (NYLF/MED) in Los Angeles, CA. Anna Caroline joined other high school students from around the country who demonstrated academic excellence, leadership potential and an interest in a career in medicine.

Throughout the 6-day forum, NYLF/MED introduced students to a variety of concepts in public health, medical ethics, research and general practice and included site visits to medical facilities and clinics. Scholars were engaged in a simulation using problem-based learning, an educational method in which students were presented a fictional patient’s case history and diagnosed and developed a treatment plan for the patient. “Each student may very well be the face of the future of medicine,” said NYLF Dean of Academic Affairs, Dr. Marguerite C. Regan. “The National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine creates a virtual classroom with hospitals, clinical facilities and healthcare professionals. By shadowing key personnel, these students had a great opportunity to gain a behind-the-scenes perspective on a medical career. The timing is critical as young people explore their career paths, just prior to immersing themselves in college coursework.”

In addition to visiting cutting-edge medical schools and clinical facilities, Anna Caroline along with other scholars had the opportunity to hear from and interact with leaders within the medical field. Students engaged personally with physicians, surgeons, researchers, scientists and medical educators as they viewed these professionals at work.

NYLF is an educational organization that brings various professions to life, empowering young people with the confidence to make well informed career choices. NYLF has provided programming to more than 100,000 young people.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Broadway Musical Presented at St. Bernard Prep School

The Heidrich Library Building was transformed into the perfect stage setting as students from the drama department performed the Broadway musical “Into the Woods” recently at St. Bernard Prep School in Cullman, AL. The wooded scenery and transparent rooms set the stage for the musical production presented December 1st through 4th.

“Into the Woods” opened with the stories of Jack (Miss Katie Hawkins) and the Beanstalk, Cinderella (Shelby Bailey/Yoon Choi), and the Baker (Sam Shin) and his wife (Madeline Schweers). It is from the latter two that Red Riding Hood (Jerrica Crawford/Siobhan Russell) got her goodies for her grandmother, and they are the focus of the story. The baker and his wife must enter the woods to assemble the ingredients for a potion required by their neighbor, the Witch (Elaida Dimwamwa), to remove a curse preventing them from having a child. In their search, the Baker and his wife meet up with Jack, Red Riding Hood, and the Wolf (Austin Steele), as well as Cinderella, Rapunzel (So Hyun Park) and their respective Princes. These characters are all busy with their own fairy tales, but each possessed one ingredient for the potion.

Other characters consisted of Cinderella’s Father (Blake Crabtree) and Cinderella’s mother (Yoon Choi / Shelby Bailey), Cinderella’s Stepmother (Jenny Lee). Florinda was played by Abbey AndrĂ©; Jack’s mother (Leslie O’Donnell), Lucinda (Siobhan Russell / Rhiana Griffin), Milky White (Collene O’Donnell), Granny (Bethany Merrill), Mysterious Man (Black Crabtree), Rapunzel’s Prince (Br. David Bryant / Sean Moriarty), Steward (Joseph Rivera). Narrators were Bethany Merrill and Minsang Kim. The Wolf and Cinderella’s Prince were played by Austin Steele.

The Technical Crew consisted of Veronica Arndt, Director’s Assistant and lighting cues; Michael James II, Lighting; Luke Merrill, Lighting assistant; Sean Macfarlane, Sound Board; Ayleana Mami, Music Cues; Jade Bradford, Stage Left Manager; and Jake Lewis, Stage Right Manager. |

The cast was under the direction of Mr. and Mrs. Rodney Fike. His first year at St. Bernard, this was Fike’s first time directing a musical at the school.

Fr. Joel Martin, Headmaster said, “I saw all four performances and felt like a proud parent each time. How our students make it happen with such little time is a mystery.”

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Honor Society induction held at St. Bernard

Saint Bernard Preparatory School recently inducted thirteen students into the National Honor Society. National Honor Society requires a student to maintain an overall cumulative GPA of 90 while completing required courses in math, science, and foreign language. In addition, the student must have demonstrated leadership qualities, offered service to his school and community, and exhibited outstanding personal character.

The induction ceremony was conducted by NHS president, Michael James II. Other senior members who assisted during the program included: Mark McDaniel, Elaida Dimwamwa, Yoon Choi, Maddie Schweers, and Michael Schartung.

Newly inducted members were: Nathan Denson, Cristi Caples, Aymee Chauvin, Jerrica Crawford, Bennett Glasscock, Tina Martin, Sean Macfarlane, So Hyun Park, John Schneider, Min Bo Shim, Sam Shin, Caitlin Varquez, and Andy Woods.

During the ceremony the new inductees repeated the honor society pledge, and were presented certificates of membership by Headmaster, Fr. Joel Martin, and National Honor Society faculty moderator, Mrs. Margaret Hinson.

After the program a reception was held in the library for all members and their parents.

Middle School students assists families

Thanksgiving just got better for a few families in Cullman as students at St. Bernard Preparatory Middle School collected enough food to adopt as many as four families through Saint Vincent de Paul at Sacred Heart Church in Cullman.

Martha Ann Warnke, who spearheads the canned food drive, was delighted with the food items being donated. “We sent a request for everything a family needs for Thanksgiving dinner, and we are so happy with the way our students and their families responded.”

William Calvert, principal at St. Bernard Middle School, said the students collected the food items in just over one week, and were to be commended for their generous contributions.

Among the contributed items were turkeys, hams, canned pumpkin, cranberry sauce, green beans, cream style corn, canned sweet potatoes, stuffing mix, marshmallows, jello, frozen pie shells, pudding mix.

Ecumenical Prayer Service held at St. Bernard

Heavy rains didn’t dampen the grateful spirit of ministers from North Alabama who joined in the recent Ecumenical Thanksgiving Prayer Service at St. Bernard Prep School. Rev. Joel Martin, SBP Headmaster, said annually students and staff invite the ministers, priests and religious of their churches to participate in the celebration.

Leading the opening prayer was The Rev. Robert Blackwell from Grace Episcopal Church in Cullman. Scripture readings were given by Sr. Teresa Walsh of Annunciation of the Lord Catholic Church in Decatur; The Rev. Mitchell Williams, First United Methodist Church in Cullman, and The Rev. Andrew Siegenthaler, Christ Covenant Presbyterian Church in Cullman.

Delivering the homily for the celebration was The Rev. Dr. Edwin Hayes, pastor of First Baptist Church in Cullman. Dr. Hayes reminded the congregation of students, staff and guests of how Thanksgiving came to be a national holiday, remembering the pilgrims and the hardships they faced on their journey to America.

“Thanksgiving is a blessing to those who express it. It is a time to be thankful for those who have gone before us. We owe a debt to those before us and those after us. We did not just inherit the land from our fathers; we are borrowing it from our children and our grandchildren. Therefore, we have a responsibility to care for this world that God has created," Rev. Hayes said.

After the sermon, students offered prayers of thanksgiving/petition, during which gifts representing the prayers were offered at the altar of the Abbey Church. Thanks was expressed for the harvest that makes our lives possible, and all creation; the freedom of our Country, our armed forces, and elected officials; parents, teachers, and friends; education and wisdom; athletic abilities, people of all faiths, and loved ones who have died.

Music was provided by Alex Ginas, trumpet, Agnes Jeong, flute, and Yoon Choi, piano, under the direction of Lester Harris; and Mary Standifer, violinist; and the St. Bernard Choral group under the direction of Mr. Rodney Fike.

“This St. Bernard tradition is a happy one,” said Fr. Joel, “and we look forward to it every year.” “The men and women who come to us for the celebration are very busy, yet they take pains to join us because they are so important in the lives of the students who invite them.”

Thanksgiving dinner was enjoyed by all in the dining hall immediately after the celebration; students waited on the visiting clergy.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

St. Bernard Prep’s Ayleana Mami to compete in Australia for Alabama and USA

Saint Bernard Prep School’s Ayleana Mami has been selected to represent Alabama on the 2012 National Western Conference Track and Field Team in Australia. Chris Pella, Recruiting Coordinator, International Sports Specialist, Inc. from Down Under Sports said Mami was invited because of her outstanding performance last year at the Alabama High School Athletic Associations State Meet.

Mami currently holds the 1A title for the 1600 meter run as well as the 3200 meter run. “Ayleana is an outstanding athlete who has captured the eyes of several coaches from the State of Alabama who think she will be the perfect addition to the Alabama and USA International Team to participate in Australia,” Pella said. “This program is much like the Olympics. Only 300 athletes are accepted to compete at the International competition.”

To participate, fifteen year old Mami must raise $5,000. She is reaching out to her family, community, and friends to donate towards the cost of competing Down Under. “I am honored to be an ambassador of not only our community and state, but also my country. However, sponsorships are necessary to make this dream come true for me,” Mami said.

For Mami the competition held July 1-9, 2012 in Sydney Australia offers her a once in a lifetime opportunity. Sponsorships of $20 or more dollars will qualify supporters for some great prizes too. The first draw will win: 2 all expense paid trips to the 2012 Down Under Sports Competition in Australia and Hawaii. All entries must be received by ISSI no later than 5 p.m. MST on June 1, 2012- entries received by this time will be entered into both drawings.

The second draw will win: A 5-day Caribbean Cruise for two. All entries must be received by ISSI no later than 5 PM MST on August 1, 2012. Entries received between June 1, 2012 5:01 PM MST and August 1, 2012 5:00 PM MST will be entered into the 2nd drawing only.

The next 30 days are critical to Ayleana. For all contributions received in her honor to International Sports Specialist, Inc. the scholarship fund will match her 25% up to $2,000.

Donations are to be made directly to International Sports Specialists, Inc. (or ISSI), and mailed along with the sponsorship form. To receive a sponsorship form through the mail, contact the school at (256)739-6682 or donate online at click sponsor payment and mark it for Ayleana Mami Track and Field.

Mami is the daughter of Anthony and Dorothea Hunter Mami of Cullman.

St. Bernard Holds Fall Open House

On Sunday, November 6th, families from Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia gathered at St. Bernard Prep School in Cullman for the school’s annual Open House. The scheduled events, which began at 2:00 pm, provided information about the academic, social and athletic programs as well as offered guests the opportunity to experience the uniqueness of Alabama’s only Catholic boarding school.

“I was delighted with the number of attendees at this year’s Open House,” said Fr, Marcus Voss, President of St. Bernard Prep School. “It was truly a community effort with our current parents , students and faculty involved in welcoming the families to our campus. Our school offers many opportunities for success and I was glad to see so many people interested in becoming part of our program.”

According to Admissions Director, Dr. Donna Bryant, seven different schools were represented amongst the families in attendance. “Parents were very interested in the quality of education offered at St. Bernard Prep as well as the Christian atmosphere,” Bryant said. “Our current students are the best source of advertising we have and they certainly did good work during the Open House.”

The St. Bernard student ambassadors served as tour guides for the afternoon and shared their experience both in the day school as well as the boarding school. “For students who are having a hard time leaving their friends, or who are not quite sure about changing schools, these ambassadors shared their concerns,” Bryant said.

For families who were unable to attend the Open House, the Admissions Office offers a “Shadow Day” for students wishing to experience a day at St. Bernard. Anyone interested in visiting St. Bernard and become a “student for a day” in order to become more acquainted with the school should contact, Dr. Bryant at (256)739-6682.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

All Saints Day celebrated at St. Bernard

Students at St. Bernard Preparatory School joined the monks at St. Bernard Abbey in celebrating All Saints’ Day on November 1st in the Abbey Church. On All Hallows Eve, relics of martyrs and saints from the reliquary were brought to the altar and displayed during Solemn Vespers and remained there through vesper prayer sung on Tuesday.

During the Eucharistic celebration, Abbot Cletus Meagher, OSB, delivered the homily and spoke of the lives of the saints being remembered. “As Christian people, the image of Christ should be recognized in all of us. Life is a very precious gift, and we must treat it with care. As followers of Christ, it is our hope that we may be transformed into the image of Christ.”

Students were reminded that this “holy day of obligation” presents to all believers that we are members of the Communion of Saints. “Respect life and be grateful for the people in your own lives whom you see living the life of Christ,” said Abbot Cletus.

As recorded in history, the first Christians were often forced to gather in the catacombs beneath Rome, hiding their worship services from an increasingly hostile government. They would use the coffins of the martyrs as a table, an altar on which to set the elements of their celebration.

All Saints’ Day is a day to remember the roots and the people of faith who have gone before the community of believers. The relics or “remains” of saints have been regarded as objects of devotion from early in Christian history. This can be traced back to devotion to the tombs and the remains of the earliest martyrs.

St. Bernard Abbey’s altar was surrounded by small relics of saints such as St. Lawrence, Martyr; St. Bernard, Abbot; St. Elizabeth Ann Seton; St. John Bosco; St. Benedict, Abbot; St. Piux X, Pope; just to name a few. Abbot Cletus said, “These relics are symbols of their presence with us, in the Church with the Communion of Saints.”

How the relics got to St. Bernard is still somewhat of a mystery to most in the community. According to Abbot Cletus the relics at St. Bernard have been kept in the monastery since it was founded in 1891. “I’m not sure of the story behind each relic, but it would be a good guess to say most were brought back to the United States from Rome when the monks came to north Alabama.”

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

St. Bernard Prep host Parents Weekend

St. Bernard Prep School held its annual Parents Weekend on October 28th and 29th. Parents from across the southeast made their way to the school’s campus to visit with faculty and participate in the weekend activities.

Since the first quarter grades were just recently issued, the weekend gave parents the opportunity to discuss with the teaching faculty the progress their sons and daughters were making. Many parents made positive comments regarding the daily academic reports that were available to them through the school’s academic site, Edline.

On Saturday afternoon a presentation was given regarding the school trip which the school sponsors each year which this year is planned for Costa Rica during the spring semester. Another presentation reminded the parents about the Saints Club Drawdown planned for February 4th, the Saturday before Super Bowl Sunday.

“This weekend is especially important for parents to meet with teachers and to become more acquainted with the many activities at the school.” said Fr. Joel Martin. “This weekend is one of the highlights of the fall semester. Along with all the academic discussions and activities, it’s especially nice to have the parents on campus when the autumn colors are at their peak this time of year.”

Because of the proximity to Halloween, the senior class created a haunted trail for Friday evening which caused a hub of activity. Laughing Fr. Joel said, “I think the parents were surprised to see how creative their children could be.”

The weekend concluded with the Parents’ Weekend Dinner in the Fazi-Richard Athletic Center. After a buffet meal prepared by Chef Andy Carmadella and his staff, the school’s chorus, drama department and others presented an hour-long program of entertainment.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Saint Bernard to host Open House

Saint Bernard Prep School in Cullman, Alabama is hosting Open House on Sunday, November 6, and invites the public to attend. St. Bernard is a private Catholic boarding and day school for students in grades 7-12. Operated by the Benedictine monks at St. Bernard Abbey, St. Bernard is the only Catholic boarding school in Alabama and is proud to offer an honors-based curriculum where AP and dual-enrollment are options.

Located on 800 acres in Alabama’s Mountain Lake Region, St. Bernard Abbey has provided a rich tradition of education since its founding in 1891. The small student/teacher ratio of 8:1 offers one-on-one attention in the seven classes per day schedule. School begins promptly at 8:00 a.m. and ends at 3:10 p.m. with a Mass scheduled every Wednesday.

Parents are encouraged to keep up to date with their child’s progress through the school’s technology program, Edline. Edline provides a student management system for teachers and parents to keep up-to-date on the educational progress of students. Parents may use Edline to gain access to course syllabi, assignments, testing information, grades, etc.

Resident students participate in a two-hour mandatory study hall from 7-9 p.m. held each Monday through Thursday. This time encourages students to develop study skills, review the day’s materials, and to complete homework assignments.

Technology is incorporated into the classrooms by the use of smart boards and document cameras. Additionally, St. Bernard Prep has two 20-station computer labs for class projects, term papers, essays, and other assignments.

All of the twenty-two instructors are certified in the areas they teach. Many hold Master Degrees in their area of certification. This enhances the quality of learning for the 157 students who consistently rank above the national average on standardized assessments.

For a residential student staying on campus for weekends, there are plenty of weekend activities planned to take a break from the books and study. They can enjoy the hiking trails on campus or join others for shopping, movies, and trips to such places as Chattanooga or Birmingham.

St. Bernard is proud of its fine arts program which include music, theatre, and art. The music department travels to venues outside of school to perform for schools and public functions. The theatre department is currently rehearsing for a production of “Into the Woods,” and the art department often wins recognition at the Regional Congressional Art Competition.

Athletic programs offered at the school are held in state-of-the-art facilities. These facilities include the Fazi-Richard Athletic Center which includes a weight room, conference room, snack bar area, volleyball, and basketball courts. The newly refurbished tennis courts are located near the fields for softball, baseball, and soccer. Just yards away are miles and miles of wooded running trails used by the cross country teams that represent the school.

The Parent’s League welcomes parents to be involved in the education of their children by assisting in various events and functions. Parents are involved in sporting events and volunteer their time to assist the school.

St. Bernard Prep is accredited by The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and is a member of the Southern Association of Boarding Schools as well as The Association of Catholic Boarding Schools of America.

“At St. Bernard, we understand how important choosing the right school is for children,” said Fr. Joel Martin, Headmaster. “We want to showcase our school and assist families in making an informed decision about St. Bernard.”

Open House will begin at 2 p.m. in the Dining Hall on Sunday, November 6. Activities, presentations and tours will begin at that time and will conclude at 4:00 p.m.

Anyone wishing to visit the school can contact the Admissions Office by calling (256)739-6682 or visit the school website at Find Saint Bernard Prep on Facebook –

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

St. Bernard Band entertains students at St. Ann’s in Decatur

Playing music ranging from Journey and Lady Gaga to “When the Saints go marching in”, students at St. Ann’s School in Decatur were treated to musical selections performed by the St. Bernard Jazz Band of Cullman. After the band’s performance before the entire student body, a program about St. Bernard Prep School was presented to the eighth grade students of St. Ann’s.

Dr. Donna Bryant, Admissions Director, told students of the uniqueness of St. Bernard and invited a couple of St. Bernard Ambassadors to share their St. Bernard experiences. Along with these students, Br. Thomas Jones, O.S.B., a member of St. Bernard Abbey, shared the history of St. Bernard and its founding.

John Schneider, who graduated from St. Ann’s School and is now a senior at St. Bernard, told the students, “One of the best things about St. Bernard is that it provides opportunities to be a member of many athletic teams as well as clubs. It helps someone develop leadership skills. My favorite club is the Latin Club – we actually participate in chariot races!”

“I play almost all the sports,” Schneider continued. “Anyone who wants to participate in sports has the opportunity. It’s up to the individual and their desire and commitment.”

SBP student, Alex Ginas, encouraged students to visit the campus and discover for themselves its wholesome family environment, and experience first hand what St. Bernard has to offer.

“The campus is beautiful. I like to run the wooded trails to stay fit. The trails are really wide and beautiful and it’s not unusual to see deer,” Ginas said. “I also play the trumpet in the band and enjoy it very much because there’s no dull and boring music. The music we play is pretty amazing. We play rock, jazz, and even Lady Gaga.”

Dr. Bryant thanked the students for sharing their comments and further reminded the group that St. Bernard is more than a school. “We are unique. St. Bernard is located at Alabama’s only Benedictine Abbey – St. Bernard Abbey,” Bryant said.

“St. Bernard offers a college prep curriculum which prepares students for college, life and all the things we know are coming,” continued Bryant. “We want to help students plan their path to success. Because St. Bernard is a small school, students have so many opportunities. We understand that students like to do a lot of things, and our goal is to give them the chance to achieve.”

Dr. Bryant concluded by saying, “St. Bernard is located on 800 acres with a lake in the center. The environment lends itself not only to learning, but having a faith and spirituality that will help a person grow and mature.”

Saint Bernard Prep School provides bus service to St. Ann’s School on a daily basis. Families are offered the options of commuting daily or residing on the historical campus of St. Bernard. For more information about St. Bernard Prep, visit the SBP website at or facebook – The campus is located at 1600 St. Bernard Drive, SE in Cullman, Alabama adjacent to the world famous Ave Maria Grotto.

St. Bernard will host Open House on Sunday, November 6. Anyone interested in attending the Open House should contact the school at (256)739-6682.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

St. Bernard presents seniors with cross

Twenty-two seniors at St. Bernard Prep School in Cullman were honored recently during a Senior Dedication Mass in the Abbey Church. Abbot Cletus Meagher, Chairman of the Board; Fr. Joel Martin, Headmaster; and Fr. Bede Marcy, School Chaplain concelebrated the Mass.

In his opening remarks, Abbot Cletus thanked everyone in attendance and reminded the Senior Class of their role in the school community. “We celebrate with the senior class that they may all share in that which is ours in Christ, dedicated to a divine purpose, and as they dedicate themselves to the principals and beliefs on which St. Bernard was founded.”

Abbot Cletus said, “We are celebrating with you on the feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary. As Catholics we all know the rosary is a prayer having meaning and purpose in our lives. As you grow, I encourage each of you to come to know and understand the greater sense of purpose in your own lives and its effect and place in the world.

“Purpose is something bigger than yourself. It’s being a good example to others in the image of Christ,” Abbot Cletus said.

Following the homily, the faculty and staff joined the seniors at the altar as a sign of their support and concurrence with the proposal that the seniors receive a blessing for their leadership role in the student body of St. Bernard Preparatory School.

Each senior was recognized individually and presented a Benedictine Cross which symbolizes their lives of service not only in the St. Bernard community but in whatever they do. “Wear your cross with pride as a reminder of the privilege and dignity that is yours as you share in Christ,” Abbot Cletus said.

The 2011 senior class at St. Bernard Prep accepted their leadership roles. Abbot Cletus concluded the blessing by saying to the class, “Seniors, you are the leaders at St. Bernard Prep. You are commissioned to be good examples to others by giving them a reason to want to follow you.”

At the conclusion of the service, the Senior Class enjoyed a nice Italian meal with their parents in the Brahma Room.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Cullman, AL Mr. Roy Drinkard announced a $500,000 planned gift to the Saint Bernard Clairvaux Society. Mr. Drinkard’s leadership gift will serve as a foundation gift for Saint Bernard’s $10 million planned giving program. The Clairvaux Society’s Planned Giving endowment goal was announced in 2010 as part of St. Bernard’s 10 Year Strategic Plan.

Mr. Drinkard announced his gift on September 26, at a luncheon honoring the benefactors of St. Bernard and the fortieth anniversary of Abbot Cletus Meagher’s and Father Marcus Voss’s ordination to the priesthood. In toasting Abbot Cletus’ and Father Marcus’s dedicated service to St. Bernard and the Cullman community, Mr. Drinkard encouraged everyone to remember St. Bernard in their wills and estate plans.

Roy Drinkard graduated from St. Bernard Prep School in 1938 and was honored as its first Distinguished Alumnus in June, 2009. A U.S. Marine veteran of World War II, and a distinguished civic and business leader for over 60 years, Mr. Drinkard’s gift reinforces his commitment to St. Bernard, Cullman, and North Alabama.

Gazebo created from cistern artifact

The large green dome that once was the top covering the water purification system and hidden by large bushes outside the Dining Hall at St. Bernard now serves as the roof of a newly constructed gazebo that occupies the same space.

The gazebo is a gift given to St. Bernard in memory Oscar A. and Mildred S. Meagher and the deceased of the Meagher-Sommers families by the generosity of their children.

Abbot Cletus Meagher, OSB is pleased to see the new gazebo created from an artifact of the old cistern. “It’s pleasing to see something old given a new purpose, and this is a nice way to preserve a relic for the community and for succeeding generations of Bernardians to enjoy,” Abbot Cletus said.

After consulting with architect Jock Leonard and a structural engineer, Abbot Cletus gave the nod for construction to begin. In the Spring of 2011, the roof was lifted and the old cistern was filled with dirt. The personnel of the physical plant at St. Bernard, under the direction of the David Caples, Physical Plant Manager, began work immediately and they are primarily responsible for the construction of the project.

Apel Machine generously provided a boom to begin the work by removing the top of the cistern and replacing it as the top of the gazebo. Others assisting in the construction project were John Arndt Welding, Richard Electric, Kreps Concrete Finishers, and O.F. Richter and Sons, all of Cullman.

With a grateful heart Abbot Cletus said, “I wish to thank my family for their generosity and support of me and the many projects at St. Bernard. This project is a tribute of reverence and respect for the memory of our parents and their generation –who so generously nurtured in us the gift of our Catholic Faith.”

Benefactors celebrated at St. Bernard

Benefactors of St. Bernard Abbey and Prep School packed the Abbey Church on Monday, September 26 to celebrate the 120th Anniversary of St. Bernard Abbey, in appreciation of their prayers and generous support of St. Bernard.

Archbishop Wilton Gregory, of Atlanta presented the homily titled "What’s in it for me."

In his homily, Archbishop Gregory stated, "Benefactors Day brings together many of the generous supporters of this Benedictine community who have made a substantial and valued investment in this community."

Benefactors of St. Bernard were obviously not looking for any return on their investment beyond the satisfaction of seeing the religious institution flourish as it has in the past 120 years. What began as a pastoral outreach to Germans seeking Catholics in North Alabama has become not only a monastic occasion but the repository of many friends, alumni, clerical and religious associates.

The standing room only crowd gathered in the Abbey Church were confident that their gifts, their contributions, and their prayers for this monastic community will benefit the work of Christ, and allow them to continue to influence and shape the lives of those who live, visit, and study at St. Bernard and the countless thousands of those who have paused to pray at St. Bernard.

Music for the occasion was provided by organist, Dr. Rebecca Whited, and the St. Bernard Chorus under the direction of Mr. Rodney Fike.

St. Bernard Prep School Knights of the Altar served at Mass with Michael Schartung serving as Grand Supreme Knight.

Abbot Cletus Meagher, OSB thanked Bishop Foley and Bishop Baker for being present at the celebration and Archbishop Wilton Gregory for his wonderful homily.

“On behalf of all the monks, we offer thanks to our St. Bernard community - all the administrators, educators and staff members here at St. Bernard–our benefactors, those of you who are our students-the promise of tomorrow. Thank you for entrusting your gifts, confidence and prayers within this Benedictine institution,” Abbot Cletus said.

A buffet meal prepared by Chef Andy Carmadella and his staff was served in the dining hall.

St. Bernard Abbey has been serving the needs and aspirations of their neighbors and those who journey there for a 120 years, and have done so with the abundance of their benefactors and friends. For more information on St. Bernard Abbey, Prep School, Ave Maria Grotto or St. Bernard Retreat Center call (256)739-6682 or visit

Thursday, September 22, 2011

St. Bernard priests celebrate 40th Anniversaries

Abbot Cletus Meagher, OSB and Fr.Marcus Voss, OSB of St. Bernard Abbey will be joined by their community and guests this weekend to celebrate their 40th Anniversary of Ordination to the priesthood.

While the anniversary date was May 24, 1971, both men decided to celebrate this event in conjunction with Benefactor’s Day held on the last Monday of September each year. Msgr. Owen Campion who is editor of Our Sunday Visitor will be guest homilist at the special Mass on Sunday.

Reflecting back on his life, Abbot Cletus says the support from his family in Cleveland, TN and the monks who visited his home parish made it possible for him to continue the course of becoming a monk.

“My parents had so much influence on my life by encouraging the monastic life in our home, and making great sacrifices for us to receive a Catholic education. I was bussed from Cleveland, TN to Chattanooga everyday just to attend Catholic school,” Abbot Cletus said.

Abbot Cletus’ life at St. Bernard pre-dates his ordination. Jokingly Abbot Cletus said, “I came to St. Bernard in high school, and after taking monastic vowis in 1965 they never asked me to leave, so I stayed.”

Looking back on the day of his ordination, Abbot Cletus said, “I remember thinking, ‘Am I worthy of such a gift.’ My life in the community with the monks is a gift of Gods goodness and love. The calling to monastic life and to the priesthood have been great graces in my life.”

After serving as pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Cullman, he was elected the 9th Abbot of St. Bernard Abbey in 1995. “By the grace of God, it is my responsibility to lead the monks of St. Bernard who are striving to be faithful to the monastic life as given by St. Benedict in his Rule for Monks. Our mission is to serve those who make contact with us through our school, Ave Maria Grotto and the Retreat Center. Our desire is to receive guests as Christ, always trying to be a witness to them of God’s greatness and goodness.”

Abbot Cletus serves on various Board and Foundations. He is the Chairman of the Board of Directors for St. Bernard Preparatory School.

Fr. Marcus Voss , a native of Cullman, AL, cites the support of his family as an important factor in “trying my vocation at St. Bernard,” he said.

After he was ordained, Fr. Marcus has served his entire priestly and monastic life at St. Bernard Abbey. “Most of my priestly ministry has revolved around the work undertaken by the monks here on the campus,” said Fr. Marcus. “In my early years, I was a college registrar. Afterwards, I served as chaplain in the college and teacher. When we began work in our prep school, I was happy to take up assignments there as well as in the St. Bernard development office.”

“Ordained monks often take weekend assignments on parishes that need assistance,” said Fr. Marcus. “Over these 40 years I have helped in most of the parishes in the Birmingham diocese and have found this to be a blessing in my life.”

“I’m thankful too, “ he continued, “for the years I served as Novice Master and Formation Director for the Abbey. Working with the new members who joined our Abbey was a privilege and blessing for me.”

“I especially thank God for the years I have spent working with St. Bernard alumni,” Fr. Marcus said. “Our alumni are a great group of people and getting to know them has been a special blessing. They have been a source of help and encouragement to me over these many years and I will always be grateful to them.”

Both priests count it a real blessing to be part of the St. Bernard community. Abbot Cletus said, “Divine grace has made this possible. We are thankful to all who have crossed our paths and been part of our lives. Sometimes things are much better when we get out of the way and let God’s grace take effect.”

The 40th Anniversary celebration takes place at St. Bernard on Sunday, September 25, 2011, at 11:30 a.m. in the Abbey Church.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Burchett shares 9-11 experience with St. Bernard

Lt. Col. Michael Burchett is thankful to be amongst friends and family ten years after the 9-11 tragedy. Speaking to the student body at St. Bernard recently, Burchett says he remembers too well the events that took place on that day because he was there.

“I had just relocated my office at the Pentagon two weeks prior to the attack, and thankfully so. Had I been at my desk, I would have been greeted by the nose of the plane that crashed,” Burchett said.

While many students may not recall the tragedy that killed more than 3,000 people, they were reminded of the scene and the times through a video. Fr. Joel Martin reminded all students the attack was not just on the United States, but the world.

“Citizens of 90 different countries died when the planes struck the towers. Among them were people of South Korea, Germany, the Peoples Republic of China, Taiwan, Mexico and India (St. Bernard has students from each of those countries). It was an attack on the whole world and the world was changed because of it,” Fr. Joel said.

Burchett recalled a plane clipping the world trade center three years prior to the attack, and thought no big deal. The Pentagon was under renovation and loud booming sounds were not uncommon, and the Pentagon was in the flight path of the national airport.

“No one had put together that we were under three attacks,” Burchett said.

“We started trying to account for missing people who were going to meetings, didn’t show up for work, going to doctor’s appointments, etc., and received orders to move further away because there was a fourth plane headed our way.”

For those working at the Pentagon, it was several hours later until they learned of the devastation that had taken place in New York City. The satellites were overpowered and had been shut down, as well as all mass transit from 9:30 am Tuesday morning until 2:30 p.m.

“I finally get on the subway and as we went by the national airport, there was nothing. It was a ghost town . All planes had been told to divert,” Burchett said.

While the Pentagon lost 189 people in the attack, almost 3,000 were lost in New York City.

Burchett told students, “What we have to keep in mind is that you can see people that are dead, you can see people that are maimed, or scarred. What you can’t see are people who have been affected mentally by what happened on 9-11. It’s been ten years and I still remember that day and am still bothered by it. You may not remember it , and you may be unaware of the changes in your life, but it has a tremendous impact on everyone of us.”

Burchett is the father of Will and Wren Thornton who are students enrolled at St. Bernard Middle School.

A video of the presentation can be found on the school’s facebook or youtube account by visiting the website

Friday, September 9, 2011

Ethics class get visit from Federal Defenders Office in Montgomery

Attorney Anne Borelli of the Federal Defenders for the Middle District of Alabama spoke with the Senior Ethics and Morality class on the topic of Capital Punishment in the state of Alabama.

Last week the senior Ethics and Morality class held debates in which they were asked to discuss the ethical issues surrounding capital punishment.

Anne Borelli is the sister of our own Br. Leo Borelli.

St. Bernard Preparatory School is greatful to Attorney Borelli and the Federal Defenders office in Montgomery.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

St. Bernard students participate in Youth Leadership Program

Jerrica Crawford and Caitlin Varquez have been selected to represent Saint Bernard Prep in the Cullman County Youth Leadership Program sponsored by the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce.

Each school in Cullman County provides two junior students the opportunity to participate in this a year-long program. Monthly, students participate in activities to include medicine, industry, local government, state government, education, law and other leadership programs.

Crawford is the daughter of Marty and Sherri Crawford of Cullman. Varquez is the daughter of Dr.’s Genaro and Mir Varquez of Cullman.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

St. Bernard contracts with American Education Specialist

More than 100 parents and students are taking advantage of a new college admissions service being offered to members of the junior and senior classes at St. Bernard Prep School. One of the primary goals of the new service is to assist students in finding the college and curriculum that matches their talents, abilities and interests.

Representatives from American Education Specialist International met on the St. Bernard campus with parents and students on Tuesday, August 30th. St. Bernard chose AESI because its consultants are experienced school leaders and advisors who are able to give schools and families the critical information they need to tailor a program for students who are seeking college admission.

Headmaster, Fr. Joel Martin said, “Technology has changed the way things are done. AESI is offering each junior and senior in our program, an opportunity to receive assistance in the whole process of their college search. Students will work one on one with representatives to prioritize what they are looking for in a college. A web management system has been put in place to help meet deadlines and to make sure students are on their way to getting things done in a timely manner."

Bill Shelnutt, the executive director of AESI, was among those who made presentations to the participants in attendance. He indicated that high grades and SAT/ACT scores are not enough to gain acceptance into the college or university of choice anymore. Colleges and universities want students that are the “best match” for their admission profiles. AESI consultants provide schools and individual families with valuable insight into a student’s strengths, interests, personality and education goals. It also assists students by developing a strategy and a roadmap for college acceptance. “We help students find their ‘best match’ school,” said Shelnutt.

Guidance Counselor Mary Mayo said it was a very informative program with a lot of good information. “If the students will put it to use, it will be of great benefit to them.”

Saint Bernard is known for its outstanding academics and scholarship awards. President Fr. Marcus Voss said, “We are offering this program to our students so they can expand their opportunities when applying to college. In making this college advisement service available, our hope is that our graduates will have even more options available to them when it comes to selecting the college of their choice.”

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Faulk finishes third in season opening meet

Training in brutal heat proved to be a good thing for St. Bernard Prep’s Will Faulk as he took third place during the cross country season kick off this past Saturday at the Fairview Invitational in Cullman County.

Faulk competed against 355 runners from 13 other regional schools participating in the tournament. His time of 18:04.37 was only seconds behind Pope John Paul II Catholic’s, Evan Pardi and Alex Gilliiland of Oneonta.

Coach William Calvert said Faulk was ready for the competition as he had worked hard all summer in the blazing heat. “Will has worked hard all summer and actually completed an 8-mile hill workout on Thursday, followed by sprints, which might have contributed to his weary legs on Saturday."

St. Bernard’s Aleana Mami finished fourth in the girls’ varsity race with a time of 22:21.66. Taylor Robinett of Gadsden City, Katie Sullivan of PJPII, and Arab’s Paige Townsend were the lone three runners with better times than Mami.

Mami had hoped for better than a fourth place finish, but is happy to get the first meet out of the way.

“I think it’s going to help a lot because this is the easiest trail we do the whole season,” Mami said. “It’s a good start because everyone is now rid of those beginning jitters.”

St. Bernard’s other notable girls’ finishers included Logan Ayers, 12th; Caitlyn Varquez, 29th; Lesley O’Donnell, 30th; Allison Hubert, 55th; and Shavangi Patel, 60th. Their performances helped them earn a third-place team finish.

For the Saints’ boys, other finishers included Oscar Perez, 38th; Samuel Robles, 45th; Steven Mami, 55th; Isaias Robles, 71st; Brij Rama, 81st; Sam Shin, 83rd; John Schneider, 104th; and Madison Pride, 138th. As a team, the men Saints finished eighth out of 14 squads.

St. Bernard is expected to participate in the Chickasaw Trail run at Lawrence County High School on September 10 at 9 a.m. To follow the saints, visit the website, or “like” St. Bernard Prep on Facebook.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A new running trail currently covering almost nine miles has been cleared in the wooded areas located on the campus of St. Bernard Prep School. Roger Blaylock, a local realtor and avid runner, has been assisting the school in this project and hopes to complete a course that will extend to 13.1 miles in the future.

William Calvert, the St. Bernard cross country team’s coach, sought the help of Blaylock in creating this long course for the cross country program. “I have been a good friend of Coach William Calvert since my daughter ran track for him in high school many years ago. She wasn’t the fastest runner, but she had the drive to get her where she needed to be.” Blaylock continued. “Coach Calvert helped her get a full athletic scholarship to the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and she is now a physical therapist in Idaho.” Laughing Blaylock said, “When Coach Calvert needs my help now, it’s hard to say ‘No.’”

Calvert, who serves as the St. Bernard Middle School Principal as well as Cross Country Coach, beams with pride as he talks about the current project. “We certainly have excellent trails for cross country competition,” he said. “The trails have long sweeping curves, sharp twists and turns and includes the challenge of hilly terrain.” Calvert plans to showcase the new trails during St. Bernard Prep Oktoberfest 5K Run scheduled for October 15, 2011.

According to Blaylock, conservationist will be happy with the work being done in the woods. “The area excavated has been raked down and covered with hay to stop erosion,” Blaylock said. “We have made every effort to open drains to allow water to flow properly by installing water bars so the land will not wash away.”

A bridge was constructed at the bottom of a basin to allow for proper drainage and cleaner running. With proper care the bridge should last a minimum of ten years.
Men involved in the project were the Lewis family, E.C. Gibbs, Robert Frank, Mike Smith, Mike Jackson, Mark Aderholt, Joanne Jetton, William Calvert, and Joe Black.

The City of Cullman plans to make good use of the trail as they will be hosting the 2012 National Archery Championship Tournament at St. Bernard.

Fr. Marcus Voss is very pleased with the work provided by the volunteers. “I just can’t say enough about these volunteers who have worked so hard on this project. I am grateful for all they have done in making such a difference for our school community.”

St. Bernard will participate in their first cross country run of the season on August 27 at Fairview High School. For a complete cross country schedule visit

St.Bernard monk professes first vows

Br. Thomas Wesley Jones, a monk at St. Bernard Abbey in Cullman, was joined by family and friends on Monday, August 15, 2011, for his Profession of First Monastic Vows.

The celebration the Mass and the vows ceremony was held in the Abbey Church with Abbot Cletus Meagher, O.S.B., serving as main celebrant. After Br. Thomas professed his vows, he sign the document on the altar of the Abbey Church with Fr. Marcus Voss, O.S.B., and Fr. Joel Martin, O.S.B., serving as official witnesses.

“It is an old and revered tradition for novices to profess their first vows a year and a day from the date of entering the monastic community as a novice,” said Abbot Cletus. “As outlined in the Rule of St. Benedict, we commit our whole life to Christ in a specific monastic community by professing our vows. We give everything away and our whole being belongs to God and to the community of brothers among whom we work and pray as we strive towards the heavenly Kingdom.”

Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, Br. Thomas is the oldest of three children born to Michael and Rosemary Jones. He attended Bevill State Community College for two years before transferring to the University of North Alabama where he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. He spent the next six years working for the Association of Retarded Citizens in Fayette, Alabama.

The profession of “First Monastic Vows” binds a person to live as a monk for three years. During these three years, Br. Thomas plans to work at Ave Maria Grotto where he is apprenticing with Leo Schwaiger in the repair and maintenance of the miniatures. He will also help maintain the four acre garden park that provides the setting for the miniatures created by Br. Joseph Zoettl.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Weight equipment rejuvenated at St. Bernard

Shannon Mescher joined the staff of St. Bernard Prep School last year as a gym assistant to host students in the afternoons and to help with upkeep at the Fazi-Richard Athletic Center. Mescher and her family became acquainted with St. Bernard due to her husband’s job transfer in 2006 from Ohio to Cullman while he was employed with Topre, Inc.

However when his job ended two years ago, Mescher said they could not leave Cullman. “This was home. We chose St. Bernard because we are Catholic and wanted to offer a quality education to our girls, and Cullman had exactly what we wanted at Sacred Heart and Saint Bernard.”

Mescher has now taken charge of the girls volleyball team after seeing the interest expressed by the students athletes. One of her first requests was the restoration of the school’s weight equipment room so her girls could start a volleyball training program.

Martin Poe, owner of Poe’s Sporting Goods in Nashville, and an alumnus of St. Bernard, donated the original equipment to St. Bernard several years ago to assist with athlete training.

This summer the free weights were powder coated. The other weight equipment having cushioned seats were upholstered with new padding. With stainless steel polish, the Mescher family scrubbed the weight machines from top to bottom and gave new life to the heavy duty equipment.

“This equipment is state of the art,” said Mescher. “When Middle Tennessee State University held volleyball camp at St. Bernard this summer, the instructors were impressed with such a wonderful weight room and compared it to a college program,” Mescher said. “They loved it so much they would work-out while the rest of us were having lunch.”

“The volleyball team exercises on the restored equipment as do most of the student-athletes. In addition, the snack bar and social room is open daily for students to grab a bite to eat after school,” said Mescher. “The gym has become the after-hours hub of the campus.”

Br. Benedict professes final vows

St. Bernard Abbey rejoices as another member of their monastery entered final vows on August 20, the feast day of St. Bernard. The Solomn Profession of Br. Benedict Dyar was held in the Abbey Church with Abbot Cletus Meagher, OSB, servings as the Main Celebrant.

Br. Benedict, a native of Opelika, AL, said, “This was the biggest day of my life. It really means the world to me and it’s like placing a seal on the vocation.”

“The Carthusian monks call it the eternal vow.” Br. Benedict continued. “This is a commitment for life and I never could have gotten to this point without my monastic confers in the monastery.”

“The ceremony for the final profession of vows has much symbolism,” said Br. Benedict. “For one, there is a full prostration at the foot of the altar just before praying the Litany of the Saints. A funeral pall is then placed over those to make final vows. The Litany is sung asking all the saints of God to come to their aid,” Br. Benedict said. “When the pall is removed the person arises symbolic of coming out of the waters of baptism. A caculla, large black garment, is placed over the outer garment worn by monks and is used as a reminder of their final profession of vows. It is worn on Sundays and feast days of the church, and symbolized that person has vowed their lives in service to the Lord.”

Remembering his early years trying to discern his vocation, Br. Benedict said, “I will never forget trying to discern my vocation. When I walked inside the Abbey Church for the first time, I felt right at home, But I was concerned about having to live in one place for the rest of my life. It wasn’t until I actually came to the monastery and started to live here that I understood the value of stability and why we do things as a community.”

Br. Benedict said, “The joys overcome the challenges of living in a community of men. God challenges each one of us to be satisfied with the portions he has received. I think this has been the right choice for me and I am very grateful.”

Br. Benedict has enrolled for the fall term at St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN, to complete his Master of Arts degree with a concentration on monastic studies.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Four St. Bernard monks continue monastic studies

Photo cutline: Br. Benedict Dyar, OSB, Br. Anselm Kuehler, OSB, Br. Josemaria Balderas, OSB and Br. Bernard Denson, OSB

Abbot Cletus Meagher, OSB at St. Bernard Abbey recently announced that four monks will enroll in college and theological studies this fall to continue their monastic formation.

Br. Anselm Kuehler, OSB, and Br. Benedict Dyar, OSB, plan to matriculate at St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN while Br. Bernard Denson, OSB, and Br. Josemaria Balderas, OSB, will enroll at Benedictine College in Atchison, KS.

Abbot Cletus said, “God has blessed St. Bernard with the talents of these four men. I wish them the best as they start another chapter of their monastic life, and look forward to what their futures hold.”

Br. Anselm Kuehler has been a member of St. Bernard Abbey for the past six years. After graduating from high school in Dallas, TX, Br. Anselm spent four years in the seminary. “I left seminary school and started working on my Master’s degree,” he said. “After teaching for 20 years in Dallas, I came to Alabama and taught for two years at St. Ann’s in Decatur before accepting Fr. Joel’s invitation to teach at St. Bernard.”

While teaching was nothing new to Br. Anselm, he was so impressed with the monastic life at St. Bernard that he decided to look into the monastic life to see if it might be a good fit for him. He entered the monastery shortly thereafter.

Br. Anselm’s plans to earn his Masters of Divinity which is a four-year program covering the basic classes needed to be ordained a priest.

Br. Benedict Dyar also will enroll at St. John’s University in Minnesota just days after making final vows as a member of St. Bernard Abbey. Br. Benedict came to St. Bernard Abbey from Opelika, Alabama and has been very involved in community life. He has become known as the “bread man,” since he is one of the main bakers of breads in the Abbey Kitchen. He is also very involved with the Abbey vocation program. He works on the Abbey Farm and helps in the upkeep of the grounds around the campus. During the 2010-11 school year, he taught a history course in the high school and was the faculty moderator of the astronomy club at the Prep School.

“I am excited to have the opportunity to begin studies toward a Master of Arts degree,” Br. Benedict said. “I plan to concentrate on monastic studies while completing the requirements for ordination to the priesthood.”

Br. Josemaria Balderas, OSB came to St. Bernard two years ago from California. Growing up he describes himself as a regular person who excelled in music and athletics, especially soccer and wrestling, while in high school. At the age of 18 he felt the call to monastic life. After a few years of discernment while working and playing in bands, he decided it was a fit and entered St. Bernard Abbey.

“I still have two more years to complete my first vows and I am extremely happy to be furthering my educational studies at Benedictine College,” Br. Josemaria said.

Br. Josemaria has been attending Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, AL, where he is a member of the Dean’s list. He plans to major in philosophy with a minor in Spanish at Benedictine College.

Br. Bernard Denson, OSB will also enroll this fall at Benedictine College in Kansas. A 2009 alumnus of St. Bernard Prep School, Br. Bernard entered the monastic formation program of St. Bernard Abbey just three weeks after graduation.

“I always wanted to be a priest, and didn’t know what a monk was before arriving at St. Bernard,” Br. Bernard said. “Coming to St. Bernard in 2006 as a sophomore in high school was the best decision I ever made. The monks had such an impact on me that I knew I wanted to be a part of the monastic life.”

Br. Bernard plans to study philosophy and possibly complete a double major in English so he can return to St. Bernard and teach at St. Bernard Prep School.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

St. Bernard begins new school year

Residential students at St. Bernard Prep School moved into their dormitory rooms on Sunday, August 14th, in preparation for their first day of classes on Monday, August 15th, while commuting students assisted in welcoming students to the St. Bernard campus.

The Middle School program opened with an enrollment of 49 students in grades 7 and 8. William Calvert was pleased with the beginning of the school year. “It’s our first day and all of the students were on-time for class. Aside from a few students not having received their uniforms, we are in good shape.”

St. Bernard Prep School opened the school with 111 students in grades 9-12. In a general assemble, Fr. Joel Martin, Headmaster, introduced the new faculty to the students. He encouraged students to work hard, study hard, and let the St. Bernard spirit work on them. “When students attend St. Bernard we encourage you to always be honest, forth right and to do your job at St. Bernard Prep.”

Fr. Marcus Voss, President of the school, was present at the assembly echoing Fr. Joel’s remarks. Fr. Marcus said, “Many people have been where you sit, and part of my job is to keep this tradition strong, and stay connected with people just like you. When you arrive at St. Bernard, you are always a part of the family. Please keep in touch with us. We hope to provide each of you with opportunities for success in life.”

Students attending St. Bernard represent the United States, Germany, China, Korea, and Africa. For more information about St. Bernard Prep visit or

Friday, August 12, 2011

Mary Mayo selected Guidance Counselor for SBP

Mary Mayo recently joined the staff of St. Bernard Preparatory School to take up the duties of guidance counselor. After twenty-five plus years of service at Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, Mayo retired and accepted the vacated guidance position at St. Bernard Prep replacing Barbara Rasplicka who is now Assistant Headmistress at the school.

Mayo brings her knowledge of planning and assessment to St. Bernard Prep. “I am really looking forward to meeting the students and working with them as well as their parents,” Mayo said. “My main focus will be getting to know each student and helping to guide them to the right curriculum to take them to the next challenging step in their lives.”

“In the high school years, everything from community service and leadership roles to great academic achievement is important,” Mayo said. “Everything counts starting in the 9th grade and continuing through the senior year. It is never too early to be preparing for college and the next level.”

“When students have an idea of what they might want to do, I will work in every way to assist them in finding the top schools in their chosen field,” Mayo continued. “I want to make sure they have the necessary curriculum, especially in the math and sciences, so they will be successful.”

Mayo received her Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts and Counseling from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. She is married to David Mayo. They have three grown children – Ben (Jena), Will and Sarah; and one granddaughter, Avery Mayo.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Hinson joins St. Bernard faculty

One motto at St. Bernard is “Old Teachers never die. They become Saints.” This couldn’t be more true as Margaret Hinson, a thirty-four year veteran joins the faculty at the Prep School. Hinson declares she was definitely born to teach, and accepted a position at the prep school teaching English to the Freshmen and Junior classes.

As a child, Hinson was a California girl and describes herself as an ex- army brat. “I have lived all over the US and Europe. My first three years of high school were completed in Germany, and I graduated my senior year in Kansas."

While attending Auburn University, she married Jim Hinson and started a family. In 1978 Hinson graduated from the University of South Alabama with a degree in Secondary English and then earned a graduate degree in Secondary English and Special Education with a concentration on working with emotionally disturbed adolescence.

She was the first student to be named Secondary Student Teacher of the Year at the University of South Alabama, and has been nominated teacher of the year three times at two different schools. In 1998, she was awarded the Parent Teacher Student Association of Mobile- Secondary Teacher of the Year for Mobile County. In 2004 she was named Wal Mart Teacher of the Year for North Mobile County in Alabama.

Having taught in mostly inner city schools, Hinson became acquainted with St. Bernard Prep as a substitute teacher last year. “St. Bernard is certainly a lot different from inner city schools,” Hinson said. “While in Mobile, I mostly taught AP Seniors, and really enjoyed the students who had the drive. At St. Bernard the students have that drive.”

Hinson has enjoyed the atmosphere at St. Bernard, but really thinks uniforms make such a difference in the classroom. “I was in Mobile when we first went to uniforms, and saw first- hand what a difference it makes in classroom performance. What I like most at St. Bernard is the special bond the students have with one another. The older students reach out to the 9th and 10th graders, and I don’t see the problems with discipline that I have seen in the public schools.”

Fr. Joel Martin, Headmaster at St. Bernard Prep, said he looks forward to Mrs. Hinson joining the faculty, and sharing her expertise. “I have watched her in the classroom as a sub, and I have to agree, she was born to teach.”

The Hinson’s moved to Cullman in 2010 and has two grown children, and five grandsons. Andy and his wife, Sarah have two boys, Joseph and James, and are anxiously awaiting the adoption of their little Chinese girl at the end of September. Their daughter, Christine is married to Doug Gordon, a commander in the Navy, who is expected to build and become the captain the Navy’s newest nuclear sub - The USS North Dakota. They have three sons, Chris, Nick, and Ben.

Saint Bernard Lady Saints experienced great interest in the girl’s volleyball program. Recently Shannon Mescher accepted the position as volleyball coach, and decided it was time to take a new direction with her young team by hosting the team’s first ever volleyball clinic through professionals at Middle Tennessee State University.

Under the direction of Alicia Lemauu and Queen Nzenwa, the team worked on basic fundamental skills, as well as building a team chemistry. Lemauu has played collegiate volleyball at MTSU, and Queen Nzenwa was a University of Kentucky standout and has played volleyball professionally for Spain and Finland. She will continue her professional career this coming year in France.

Both ladies have worked at many of the high schools in Cullman County throughout the summer, but have been most impressed with the campus and facilities St. Bernard offers. “I would compare St. Bernard to any community college campus,” Lemauu said. “As a matter of fact, I am quite jealous. My old high school didn’t have this.”

Nzenwa , who attended boarding school in Nigeria, echoed her comments by stating how impressed she was to find the gym up to health codes. “The facilities are just awesome.”

Sixteen girls attended and worked on techniques and drills. “These girls were very coachable. Normally with young girls there is a level of frustration. They certainly made our job easier by absorbing the information and being very open minded,” Lemauu said.

Mescher knows the road ahead of her young team will be challenging, but is pleased with the team’s dedication. “While our teams have been working on conditioning all summer, this camp has been a great opportunity to provide our junior varsity and varsity girls with not only fundamental techniques but also a team building spirit.”

Parents were involved in the clinic making sure the girls were eating a health diet by providing well balanced meals prepared in the gymnasiums kitchen. “We had such wonderful support, and are very thankful for all of their work preparing the nutritious meals,” Mescher said.

The Lady Saints will open their first home season game against Asbury on August 18, at 4:30 p.m. in the Fazi-Richard Athletic Center. To follow the Lady Saints visit the website at

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Alumni gather at St. Bernard

Hundreds of alumni gathered at St. Bernard recently for the Annual Alumni Reunion celebrating one of the largest turnouts in recent years.

The weekend included a golf outing which consisted of 44 players. The Championship Winners of the tournament held at Chesley Oaks Golf Course were Peter Nassetta, Patrick Nassetta, Greg Clark and Matt Branch. Second place was awarded to Pete Fitzpatrick, Carl Kuchler, Tom Martin, and Harry Davies. Class Year Champ went to the Class of 1958 Joe Engel. Mixed Team Championship was awarded to John Kreger, Cheryl Kreger, Dennis Meinert and Carol Rooney., and the Prep School Champ was John Arndt.

Saturday was packed with events ranging from a town hall meeting, lunch, and a formal dinner in the Fazi-Richard Athletic Center.

The town hall meeting was presented by Fr. Marcus Voss, OSB, and Abbot Cletus Meagher. Fr. Marcus spoke of development projects underway to enhance the facilities at St. Bernard which included roofing the barns on the farm, renovations in the dining hall bathrooms, and brahma room, and future plans for the Heidrich Library Building to be utilized by the performing arts program.

Abbot Cletus addressed the town hall meeting by speaking of the Clairvaux Society which has recently been established. A leaflet about the Clairvaux Society was prepared to address the Benedictine Missions and to remember the men who had a “clear view” of what they wanted for St. Bernard, and to the men who are leading us into the next fifty years.

Lunch followed in the cafeteria and consisted of natural organic pork raised on the Abbey farm.

A dinner was served Saturday evening hosted by students and monks at St. Bernard. Guests were served a freshly tossed green salad, prime rib, steamed squash with zucchini, and garlic mashed potatoes with hot rolls and dessert.

During the dinner the Classes were recognized and had photos taken. A tribute was made to the Class of 68 Basketball Championship Team as well as to Mrs. Ruth Richards who has reached her 101st birthday. A video taken in 1971 was shown by the alumni from the Class of 1971. The evening ended with a tribute to Br. Augustine Campion, OSB, who was given a special recognition for his remarkable abilities to stay in touch with students from the college and his dedicated years of service in the ministries of St. Bernard Abbey, especially the school and Ave Maria Grotto.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Archery tournament coming to Cullman 2012-14

By Rob Ketcham The Cullman Times

CULLMAN — In Cullman, it’s rather easy for everyone to get their fill of almost any and all traditional sports, such as baseball, football and basketball, among numerous others. However, the Cullman City Parks and Recreation has struck a deal to bring a lesser-known sport to the city — archery.

According to Nicole Ard, the marketing manager for Parks and Recreation, the city will host the McKenzie Archery Shooters Association Pro/Am Tour Classic from 2012-14.

She said the event, which will be held at St. Bernard Preparatory School, will bring in at least 1,000 professional and amateur archers for a 3-D target competition.

“This is as big as it gets,” said John Hunt, director of parks. “You’re talking about 1,000 to 1,200 of the world’s best archers.”

In addition, Ard said Parks and Recreation is estimating each year’s event to bring in at least a $1 million economic impact for the city.

“More than anything, this will be a great opportunity to showcase our city,” Ard said.

Hunt added, “We’re really excited about all the people it will bring into the community.”

According to the ASA website, each sanctioned tournament features competitive rounds of 20 life-like, 3-D animal targets made of foam. Binoculars are permitted in order to assist archers determine the target’s distance and aim correctly before executing their shot. The competitors are then scored using a scoring system of 14, 12, 10, eight, five or zero points per arrow.

While Hunt acknowledged Cullman already has the 2009-built Community Archery Park, he said the event will be hosted at St. Bernard because of the massive amount of space needed for such a large event.

The park that will eventually be set up at St. Bernard will include 20 lanes with 20 targets in each.

He said they plan to use the open land behind the school for a village and utilize the woods for a near-realistic hunt of 3-D animals varying in size, such as foxes, bears or deer, among others.

Hunt said, “We’re very appreciative of St. Bernard for letting us use their facilities for the duration of the tournament.”

With nearly 1,400 happy members belonging to one of the nation’s top parks and recreation departments, Ard said they are continuing to try and stay ahead of statewide and national trends by hosting the tournament and emphasizing archery’s popularity.

She said, “We’re very competitive, and we like to be the ones setting the trends.”

Hunt said people can prepare for what the larger-scale tournament will be like when the Cullman Community Archery Park plays host to the Bowhunters of Alabama State Tournament this Aug. 27 and 28.

Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 257.