By Sarah Eidemiller, Staff Writer
It’s hard to believe that our college’s founder, Boniface Wimmer, was often picked on by his fellow monks in Bavaria. They told him that his dreams were too big, and even gave him a nickname: “Der Projektenmacher.” When he would appear, they would say things like, “Here comes that big Plan-maker! What a dreamer!” While Wimmer did have some dreams that weren’t fulfilled, it’s amazing to think of all the things he did accomplish in his own lifetime: eight Benedictine monasteries and 152 Benedictine parishes.
Wimmer didn’t let anything bring him down, and he never stopped chasing his goals. That’s why, on Founder’s Day, college president Br. Norman W. Hipps, O.S.B, announced a new annual award, called the Projektenmacher Award. It will be presented next November on Founder’s Day to distinguish creativity that goes above and beyond the norm.
“I remember first talking about this idea 10 years ago,” Br. Norman said. “This idea was inspired for a couple reasons. One, it will be a way for people to remember what some of the characteristics of Wimmer are, and it’s a good thing to recognize the kind of things that individuals can do, whether it’s something creative or something that’s taken a lot of hard work. Another reason is that Wimmer got people to work with him. He had the ability to inspire others in his ability to engage people in the vision or idea that he had.”
The award will recognize a faculty member, staff member or student for introducing something valuable that makes a difference at Saint Vincent College. It could be anything from improving an academic program to making Saint Vincent more “green.” The award is designed to encourage the same sense of creativity that Wimmer encompassed.
When he came to America in 1846, things were not perfect. He faced many challenges along the way, but remained persistent in his effort to establish a monastery to train future priests. At times people became unhappy with him, but Wimmer kept at it.
“I think he had a deep faith in God,” Br. Norman said. “He knew that he was following God’s will and His direction.”
At one point, there was a poor harvest and a hard winter, and times were tough. Wimmer wrote to Germany and said, “Forward, always forward, everywhere forward! We must not be held back by debts, bad years or by difficulties of the times. Man’s adversity is God’s opportunity.”
This motto serves as a perfect example of how Wimmer lead his life.
“Wimmer would be proud of the college and how it is today,” Br. Norman said. “We have a mission in Brazil and Taiwan, and the archabbot has been very active in potential plans of development in Benedictine monasteries in Asia. I think he would like our current exhibit in the art gallery, too. He would congratulate Brother Nathan for being successful and attracting artists unknown and known. He would especially be pleased that a famous Carmelite nun judged the exhibition and that people in the local media recognized that.”
Br. Norman said that he thinks Wimmer would be pleased with the new science center, too, since a long time ago, he wrote to his friend back in Germany, saying that he was in search of a good science faculty member.
“He would agree that this is a really nice faculty that brings together scientists from different disciplines, with computer scientists interacting with biologists,” he said. “I think that he would also say that having a stronger science program at a Benedictine college is especially important. It shows that there is not a conflict between science and faith.”
The official guidelines such as the selection process and other details for the award are still being worked out, but should be made official mid-semester in the spring. Selection will occur in the fall, before Founder’s Day.
“We want to recognize the work people are doing now, too,” Br. Norman said. “The intent is not only to recognize, but encourage people to take initiatives. I think this award will spark a lot of creativity around campus. Every community needs creative people.”