Caring for the Land for 200 Years
For 200 years, Vincentian brothers have farmed the land and taken care of the buildings at St. Mary’s of the Barrens in Perryville, Missouri. In the early years, they provided fresh produce, dairy, beef and pork to Vincentian seminaries throughout the region. This year, the farm will be winding down its operations. The last of the cattle herd will be sold and just enough equipment will be kept to maintain the pastureland.
Fr. Ray Van Dorpe, C.M., recently acknowledged the farm brothers’ efforts and the work of so many dedicated Vincentians before them who were instrumental in sustaining the community’s life in Perryville.
“Our Vincentian brothers are known for a wide variety of skills,” Fr. Ray explains. “They give themselves entirely to their work for God’s glory and the spread of His Gospel. The farm in Perryville is a perfect example of their selfless service.”
Since the earliest days in the United States, Vincentian brothers have played a central role in supporting the life and ministry of the Vincentian community. They take on a diversity of tasks and responsibilities, in service to the mission of St. Vincent. Brother Martin Blanka, C.M., was the first brother to come to the Barrens from Italy in the early 19th century. He served as a cook, tailor, carpenter and blacksmith, and established the farm in Perryville.
Many early Vincentian brothers are known for their unique contributions to the Church in America. One famous example is Brother Angelo Oliva, C.M., a talented sculptor and stonemason. He helped build the Church of the Assumption in Perryville and the now-historic Old Cathedral in St. Louis, Missouri.
Since the earliest days in the United States, Vincentian brothers have played a central role in supporting the life and ministry of the Vincentian community.
In a letter to another Vincentian priest, Bishop Rosati highlighted the great benefit of having Brother Angelo and the other brothers participate in the life of the Church in America. He wrote: “Brother Oliva is a treasure in every respect; he has won the esteem of all those whom he knew at New Orleans, and here at the Barrens, all of the community” (Spring 1989, Notable Vincentians (3): Brother Angelo Oliva, C.M.; John E. Rybolt, C.M., Ph.D.).
As the farm in Perryville winds down, we acknowledge with gratitude the legacy of the current farm brothers – John Magogna, C.M., Richard Hermann, C.M., and Harvey Goertz, C.M. – and all those throughout the years who have served humbly in the spirit of St. Vincent.