By Samantha Hilyer
SVC history enthusiasts have a new resource to turn to for Saint Vincent trivia. On Oct. 15, the archabbey released the book “Always Forward: A History of Saint Vincent Archabbey, 1949-2020,” authored by Dr. Jerome Oetgen.
“Always Forward” is the up-to-date record of the history of the first Benedictine monastery in the United States of America. The sequel to Oetgen’s previous book, “Mission to America” (which started with Saint Vincent founder Archabbot Boniface Wimmer, O.S.B.), “Always Forward” concludes with the end of Archabbot Douglas’ service in June of 2020.
Oetgen’s book covers several decades of Saint Vincent history. Through his research, he has discovered multiple interesting details about Saint Vincent.
In an interview with Saint Vincent Magazine, Oetgen mentioned that one of those interesting details is the Saint Vincent community’s perseverance.
“The fire of 1963 is a good example,” Oetgen said. “The fire almost destroyed the place, but the community overcame the crisis with faith, prayer, and hard work.”
Oetgen also explained his own connection with the Benedictines, from his Benedictine schooling in high school to college. Oetgen was even a part of the monastery at Saint Vincent.
“I joined the monastery and lived here for seven years,” Oetgen said. “Eventually I realized my calling was to marriage and a family, but the influence of the Benedictine community on my life was transformational.”
After leaving Saint Vincent, Oetgen went to the University of Toronto for his graduate studies. He then taught in the English department at Seton Hill University for 10 years where he also worked in the Opportunity Program. In 1983, Oetgen went first to the Peoples’ Republic of China and then to the Soviet Union to teach. After his return from working abroad, he applied to the United States Foreign Service where he worked for 25 years as a U.S. diplomat at American embassies in Latin America and Europe. He has since retired.
Oetgen’s book, “Always Forward,” was published by Saint Vincent Archabbey Publications. Kim Metzgar, the archabbey’s director of public relations, edited his work.
The 530-page piece is available for purchase online through this link: https://www.stvincentstore.com/index.php/archabbey-publications/always-forward.html.