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Feb 5th, 2009

Death Notice

+ Father Bruce Wollmering OSB, 1940-2009

Photo: Saint John’s Abbey

Father Bruce Wollmering OSB, monk and priest, died suddenly and unexpectedly at Saint John’s Abbey late on the afternoon of Wednesday, February 4, 2009.

Father Bruce was born on November 2, 1940, in Hastings, Minnesota. He professed vows as a Benedictine monk on July 11, 1961. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 3, 1967.

The monks will receive the body at a Vigil Service on Monday, February 9 at 7 p.m. and celebrate the Mass of Christian Burial on Tuesday, February 10 at 3 p.m. in the abbey church. Interment follows in the abbey cemetery.

Fr. Bruce in his office at St. John’s University, 2002.

Father Bruce Luverne Wollmering, OSB (B.A., Saint John’s University, 1963; M.Ed., University of Arizona, 1970; Ph.D., University of Arizona, 1978), served as a psychology professor at St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict from 1978 to 2003 (department chair, 1994-2003).



+ Father Bruce Wollmering OSB, 1940-2009

Luverne Wollmering was the oldest of five children born to Gregory and Marie (May) Wollmering on a farm in Hastings, Minnesota, November 2, 1940. Luverne attended St. Boniface Grade School in Hastings. Father Kilian McDonnell OSB, associate pastor, encouraged Luverne to enter Saint John’s Preparatory School where, in 1954, he began his journey to the priesthood.

After graduating from the prep school in 1958, Luverne enrolled in Saint John’s University. He entered the novitiate of Saint John’s Abbey after his sophomore year. He accepted Bruce as his name in religion and professed first vows, July 11, 1961. As a junior monk Frater Bruce earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and classics, May 1963. He completed his studies toward the priesthood at Saint John’s Seminary. His ordination took place on June 3, 1967.

Father Bruce attended the University of Arizona in Tucson and earned a master’s degree in counseling and guidance, May 1970. He continued his studies there, and the university awarded the doctorate, May 1978.

Father Bruce began his professional career at Saint John’s Preparatory School as a Latin teacher, prefect, and cross-country/track coach from 1967 to 1969. He served as the Business and Placement Director and counselor at Saint John’s Preparatory School and University from 1970 to 1972. He was consulting counselor at the prep school from 1970 to 1975. For six months in 1972 he served as substitute novice master in the abbey. From 1973 to 1975 he lived as a prefect on the fourth floor of St. Benet Hall in the university. Father Bruce was a faculty resident in St. Thomas Hall from 1978 to 1980.

The bulk of Father Bruce’s professional life was devoted to teaching psychology and working as a counselor. He was a member of the counseling services team at Saint John’s University from 1978 to 1980. During this time he also served on the faculty as adjunct professor of psychology. He was assistant professor of psychology from 1980 to 1988 when he achieved tenure as associate professor of psychology.

Father Bruce was delighted by the opportunity to spend his sabbatical at the Carl G. Jung Institute in Zurich, Switzerland, from 1990 to 1991. His doctoral thesis had focused on dreams, a key element of Jungian psychotherapy. From 1994 to 2003 he was chair of the Department of Psychology at Saint John’s University. Father Bruce conducted more than 50 workshops and seminars in psychology that dealt with subjects such as dream analysis, therapeutic hypnosis, human sexuality, and healthy spirituality.

After his retirement from the university, Father Bruce was free to pursue many other interests. He worked with Father Paul Schwietz OSB in the establishment of the Saint John’s Arboretum that began with the successful restoration of the prairie, wild flowers, oak savannah and marsh lands. He served two terms on the Arboretum Advisory Council from 2002 to 2008. He was very active as the chair of the Abbey Forest and Lands Committee. Father Bruce was an engaged and dedicated ornithologist. He identified 39 species of birds that visited campus. His favorite was the Eastern Bluebird. Around a six-mile perimeter of the outer campus, he built more than 70 nesting boxes to encourage the re-population of the bluebird during the past 15 years. He kept annual records of the nesting success which was usually very good. Father Bruce also built and maintained loon platforms at Saint John’s that were responsible for successful hatches every year.

Few enjoyed and remembered a good meal as well as Father Bruce. Beginning in 2005, he worked with six monks to increase the amount and variety of food grown and served at Saint John’s. During the summer the team enriched the monastery’s salad table with numerous boxes of lettuce, radishes, peppers, and tomatoes. Father Bruce renovated the root cellar for the eco-friendly storage of squash and other vegetables over the winter. The “hoop house” constructed in the garden a few years ago allows the early and prolonged growth of vegetables — much to the delight of the monks.

Father Bruce was active and healthy until the sudden medical incident that took his life. He had collapsed in the basement locker room of the monastery. Loss of much blood caused cardiac arrest. Despite being on the scene almost immediately, the emergency medical team was unable to revive him. His younger siblings were shocked and saddened by his unexpected death. Both of their parents also suffered sudden death in an automobile accident, June 2001.

Father Bruce died on Wednesday, February 4, 2009. He is survived by his brother, James (and Judy) Wollmering, Hastings; his sisters, Mary (and Jerry) Sullivan, Hastings; Judy (and Michael) DeShon, Mt. Prospect, IL; Deborah (and James) Hassell, Saudi Arabia; a niece, three nephews, and a new grandniece; as well as the community of Saint John’s Abbey. The monks, family, friends, and colleagues will celebrate the Mass of Christian Burial, Tuesday, February 10, 2009, 3 p.m., in the abbey church. Interment in Saint John’s Abbey Cemetery follows the service.

We ask each community member to offer two Masses according to the manner of his participation in the priesthood of Christ. We commend our brother, Bruce, to your prayers.

Abbot John Klassen OSB
and the monks of Saint John’s Abbey


2/10/2009 Update

Funeral for Father Bruce Wollmering OSB

Today, 10 February, the feast of Saint Scholastica, all are invited to celebrate the Mass of Christian Burial for Father Bruce in the abbey church, 3 p.m. Interment follows in the abbey cemetery.

(CSB|SJU Official Bulletin Board for Tuesday, February 10, 2009)


Fr. Bruce Wollmering OSB

February 8, 2009

Wollmering, Fr. Bruce, OSB, age 68, from Hastings, Minn., died on Wednesday, February 4, 2009, at Saint John’s Abbey in Collegeville. The reception of the body in Saint John’s Abbey Church will be Monday, February 9, during an evening vigil service that begins at 7 p.m. Visitation closes with a brief prayer at 9 p.m. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Tuesday, February 10, 2009, 3 p.m., in the abbey church, with interment in Saint John’s Abbey Cemetery following the service.

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Father Bruce Wollmering, OSB, 68

The Hastings Star-Gazette
February 6, 2009

Father Bruce Wollmering, OSB, age 68, died on Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2009, at Saint Johns Abbey in Collegeville. Christened Luverne, he was the oldest of five children born to Gregory and Marie (May) Wollmering on a farm in Hastings, Minn., Nov. 2, 1940. Luverne attended St. Boniface Grade School in Hastings.

The reception of the body in Saint John’s Abbey Church will be Monday, Feb. 9, during an evening vigil service that begins at 7 p.m. Visitation closes with a brief prayer at 9 p.m. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2009 at 3 p.m. in the abbey church, with interment in Saint Johns Abbey Cemetery following the service.

A Memorial Mass of Resurrection will be celebrated at 5:15 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 12 at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Hastings.


More about Father Bruce

Meet Fr. Bruce Wollmering, O.S.B., avid bird watcher, conservationist, and long-time Arboretum friend … page 4 [PDF]


12/10/2009 Update

St. John’s Abbey sued in child sex abuse case
(Pioneer Press, Dec. 10, 2009)

Abuse allegations prompts suit against St. John’s
(The Associated Press / Pioneer Press, Dec. 9, 2009)

Abuse allegations prompts suit against St. John’s
(WXOW News 19, La Crosse, WI, Dec. 9, 2009)

Abuse allegations prompts suit against St. John’s
(WCCO, Minneapolis-St.Paul, MN, Dec. 9, 2009)

Abuse allegations prompt suit against St. John’s
(KSTP, Minneapolis-St.Paul, MN, Dec. 9, 2009)

Abuse allegations prompts suit against St. John’s
(Grand Forks Herald, Grand Forks, ND, Dec. 9, 2009)

Former St. John’s Prep student files fraud lawsuit against the school (AM 1450 KNSI, St. Cloud, MN, Dec. 9, 2009)

Lawsuit targets St. John’s Prep School, Abbey
(David Unze, Pioneer Press, Dec. 9, 2009)

Fraud lawsuit targets St. John’s Prep School and Abbey
(David Unze, St. Cloud Times, Dec. 9, 2009)

Lawsuit alleges Benedictines covered up abuse allegations
(Jeff Strickler, Star Tribune, Dec. 8, 2009)

St. John’s monks accused of major sex crime cover-up
(Megan Brown and Matt Standal, KSAX-TV, Alexandria, MN, Dec. 8, 2009)

Lawsuit alleges St. John’s fraudulently ‘protected predatory priests’ (Scott Siroka, KARE-11, Dec. 8, 2009)

Man suing over alleged sexual abuse at St. John’s Abbey
(Ambar Espinoza, Minnesota Public Radio, Dec. 8, 2009)

Order of St. Benedict (St. John’s Abbey) served “Fraud” lawsuit
(Voice from the Desert, Dec. 7, 2009)

Plaintiff: Jeramiah (Jerry) McCarthy.
Information at


Broader context

Pontiff ‘Distressed’ by Irish Catholic Abuse Cases

Church leaders covered up widespread child sexual exploitation, report says
December 11, 2009

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI says he is “deeply disturbed and distressed” by a child sex-abuse scandal in Ireland and will write a letter to Catholics there on the church’s response.

Benedict met Friday with senior Irish clergy in the wake of a government report that said Church leaders covered up widespread sexual abuse of children for 30 years.

The report was issued last month after a government-ordered investigation into the Dublin Archdiocese. It found that the church shielded more than 100 child-abusing priests from the law. …

The Nov. 26 report said the church in the overwhelmingly Catholic country had obsessively hidden child abuse during the period of an inquiry, which covered the handling of abuse reports by the archdiocese of Dublin from 1975 to 2004.

“The Holy Father was deeply disturbed and distressed by its contents. He wishes once more to express his profound regret at the actions of some members of the clergy who have betrayed their solemn promises to God, as well as the trust placed in them by the victims and their families, and by society at large,” the statement said. …

The Murphy report said the church operated a policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell” about abuse.

All Dublin archbishops in charge during the period were aware of some complaints and the archdiocese was more preoccupied with protecting the reputation of the church than safeguarding children’s welfare, the report said. …

Full report


12/25/2009 Update

Two more Irish bishops quit over sex abuse
Probe found church leaders shielded more than 170 pedophile priests


5/5/2015 Update

St. John’s to release files of abusive priests as part of settlement
(Melanie Sommer, Rick Kupchella’s BringMeTheNews, April 28, 2015)


Excerpt: The settlement includes a requirement that St. John’s Abbey release the files of 19 monks accused of sexually abusing children … [T]heir complete files, which contain details of abuse allegations against them, will be released in the coming months … They are: … Fr. Bruce Wollmering …

Video of news conference


11/24/2015 Update

Five St. John’s Priest Files to be Publicly Released

At a news conference scheduled for 1:00 p.m. CT, Tuesday November 24, 2015, St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson will release the files of five St. John’s monks credibly accused of sexually abusing children, including Fr. Bruce Wollmering. The files were obtained as part of the Troy Bramlage (Doe 2) settlement earlier this year.

Wollmering allegedly used his position as a counselor at St. John’s to prey on and sexually exploit vulnerable students who sought help or were referred for counseling.

Copies of the priest files and timelines will be available at the press conference and on the Jeff Anderson & Associates website.

The event will be live-streamed online with links available at


11/25/2015 Update

Abuse survivor Troy Bramlage (middle) flanked by attorneys Jeff Anderson and Mike Bryant (Photo credit: KARE)

“The files show that [Bruce] Wollmering received a psychological diagnosis in 2004 of ‘sexual disorder with compulsive and exploitive behaviors.’ A St. John’s student reported in 2006 that Wollmering bragged to him that he had 300 ‘sexual partners’.” (“St. John’s Abbey monk accused of abuse reports 200 sexual encounters,” Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune, Nov. 25, 2015)

Bruce Wollmering Key Documents

Bruce Wollmering File, part 1

Bruce Wollmering File, part 2

Bruce Wollmering Timeline


  • March 21, 2003 — CSB/SJU Investigations findings. Finding of likely hostile environment and sexual harrassment. Wollmering may have violated APA rules of dual relationships of being teacher and counselor of same student. Wollmering will agree to resign as head of Psychology department, resign as a CSB/SJU faculty member, not provide any counseling services to any student effective immediately. (OSB Wollmering_00253-00263)
  • January 19, 2004 — Shauna Corbin, Ph.D., C.Psych, Southdown treatment summary to Abbot Klassen: Wollmering has a sexual disorder with compulsive and exploitive behaviors and unintegrated features, pathological gambling and an occupational problem, all in the context of a narcissistic personality disorder with histrionic and obsessive-compulsive features. … Seems to lack feelings and empathy. (OSB Wollmering_00291-294)
  • February 8, 2009 — Autopsy report indicates Wollmering died of a fractured skull, broken ribs, punctured liver. No heart attack or aneurism. … One bruise that [medical examiner] could not initially account for. (OSB Wollmering_00372, 383-385, 394-405)

2 Responses to “Obituary: Bruce Wollmering, OSB”
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