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.”