Father Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B., a Benedictine priest of St. Vincent Archabbey, died Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013.
Born on a farm between Carrolltown and Ebensburg on Oct. 1, 1923, Father Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B. grew up with eight siblings, the son of the late Gordon and the late Esther (Kirsch) Dumm. His brother, the late Father Wilfred Dumm, O.S.B., was also a Benedictine priest of St. Vincent Archabbey. His other brothers and sisters include Mrs. Alfred (Dolores) Demma, Lusby, Md.; Donald Dumm, Ebensburg; Mrs. John (Imogene) Reidy, Silver Spring, Md.; Mrs. Frank (Roselyn) Colella, Olney, Md.; Clair Dumm, Ebensburg; Patrick Dumm, Summerhill and the late Fred Thomas.
He completed eight grades in six years in a one-room country school, then entered St. Vincent Preparatory School. Upon graduation in 1940 from the Prep School, Father Demetrius began studies at St. Vincent College. Halfway through his college studies he entered the Benedictine monastic community of St. Vincent Archabbey as a novice in 1942. He made simple profession of vows on July 2, 1943. He continued his college studies and earned a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy from the college in 1945, then made solemn profession of monastic vows on July 11, 1946.
He studied at St. Vincent Seminary for three years-- from 1943 to 1946-- some years concurrently with his college studies, then began additional study in Rome. While studying in Rome, he was ordained a priest at Subiaco Abbey, Italy, by the Most Rev. Lorenzo Salvi, O.S.B., on Dec. 7, 1947. He received a Doctor of Sacred Theology degree in 1950 from the Pontifical Institute of Sant’ Anselmo. He studied at the Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem from 1950 to 1952, after which he received a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Commission, Vatican City.
Father Demetrius returned to St. Vincent in 1952, and taught Sacred Scripture at St. Vincent Seminary until 2009. He taught Biblical Greek and Hebrew in his early teaching career. Some of those courses overlapped with his new duties as vice rector of the Seminary, a position he held from 1955 to 1963. Once he became rector in 1963, however, his teaching career was focused on Sacred Scripture. Father Demetrius was rector of the seminary at a critical time when the Church experienced significant changes as a result of Vatican II. He served as rector for 17 years, ending his tenure in that position in 1980, all the while continuing to teach. He was called to serve in administration once again as director of spiritual life in 1989, and held that role for four years. He was named professor emeritus in 2010. For his many years of service to the Seminary, he was honored with an honorary Doctor of Sacred Theology degree in 1999.
Father Demetrius was also a gifted writer. His first book, "Flowers in the Desert: A Spirituality of the Bible," was originally published in 1987. It has been reprinted twice. His second book was "Cherish Christ Above All: The Bible in the Rule of Benedict," first published 1996. Like its predecessor it has gone into multiple reprints. Other books include "A Mystical Portrait of Jesus, New Perspectives on John’s Gospel," published 2001; "Praying the Scriptures," published 2003; and "So We Do Not Lose Heart: Biblical Wisdom for All Our Days," published 2006, and reprinted in 2010. Father Demetrius’ weekly column on the Sunday Homilies, coauthored with confrere Father Campion Gavaler, O.S.B., originally written for the St. Vincent Archabbey website in 1999, has run in the Jednota newspaper for more than a decade and in 2011 began appearing in The Catholic Accent, weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Greensburg. He was a major contributor and one of the editors of the Collegeville Pastoral Dictionary of Biblical Theology, contributed to the New Jerome Bible Commentary, and authored numerous articles for The New American Benedictine Review and The New Catholic Encyclopedia.
Father Demetrius lectured widely, including a series of lectures in England to the Union of Monastic Superiors, comprising all the abbots and abbesses of the Benedictine and Cistercian monasteries in Great Britain, Ireland, and Scotland, and gave a number of retreats in England, Ireland, and Taiwan. His service as a retreat master included most of the Benedictine monasteries in the United States, and retreats for Bishops of 13 states. He taught summer school at various colleges and convents from 1945 until his retirement; and served as a member of the Commission for Christian Unity of the Diocese of Greensburg, 1963 to 1980; charter member of the East Coast Rectors’ Conference, 1964 to 1980, and past president, 1972 to 1974; member of the Council of the Abbot President of the American Cassinese Congregation of the Benedictine Order, 1973 to 1985; professor in Duquesne University’s Institute of Formative Spirituality, 1978 to 1985; representative to the Pennsylvania Conference on Interchurch Cooperation, 1981 to 1990, and chairman of its Committee on Theological Consultation, 1982 to 1990; and member of the Board of Incorporators of St. Vincent College, Inc. and member of the Board of Directors of St. Vincent College for many years.
In 2009 Father Demetrius received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Saint Vincent Seminary.
A Mass of Christian Burial for Father Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B. will be celebrated by Archabbot Douglas R. Nowicki, O.S.B., at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 20 in the Archabbey Basilica. Interment will follow in the St. Vincent Cemetery.
The body will be received at 3 p.m. Monday, Nov. 18 in the Elizabeth Roderick Center of St. Vincent Seminary. Viewing will follow from 3 to 5 and 7 to 9 p.m., and will continue from 2 to 5 p.m. Tuesday. A vigil service will be held at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday in the Archabbey Basilica.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Father Demetrius R. Dumm Endowment for Biblical Studies, St. Vincent Seminary, 300 Fraser Purchase Road, Latrobe, PA 15650.