Father Burton Allen Bloms, OSB

Bloms_Burton.jpg

Monk of Saint John's Abbey
Collegeville, Minnesota

Born: 11 November 1919
Professed: 11 July 1940
Ordained: 2 September 1945
Died: 3 May 2010

 

Allen Edward Bloms was born the third son of Bernard and Clara (Zachman) Bloms in St. Michael, Minnesota, on November 11, 1919. His parents ran the local general store. Allen was only eleven years old when his father died. His mother, left with six children, was able to continue to run the store with the help of her older sons, Ken and Norm.

Allen was educated by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in the local parish until the fifth grade and then transferred to the public school. His two older brothers also entered the Benedictine Order: Father Romuald (Ken) Bloms, OSB (1914-1995), at Saint John's Abbey; and Father John (Norm) Bloms, OSB (1917-1974), at Saint Gregory's Abbey in Oklahoma. Allen became responsible for the finances and purchasing at the Bloms' Store.

Allen was encouraged to attend Saint John's Preparatory School by Father Linus Schieffer, OSB (1895-1981), who helped out in his parish on weekends. In 1933 he entered the Preparatory School and graduated in 1937. After attending two years of college at Saint John's University, he entered the novitiate at Saint John's Abbey where he received the name of Burton. After his first profession as a Benedictine monk on July 11, 1940, Burton finished college and then continued his priesthood studies and was ordained on September 2, 1945.

Father Burton was a history teacher and prefect in the Saint John's Preparatory School from 1942 to 1946. On December 17, 1946, while making a skating rink for the school, Abbot Alcuin Deutsch, OSB, informed Father Burton that he was being sent to Colegio Tepeyac in Mexico City, Mexico: "Yes, you'll be going, and I dare say, young man, don't think you'll be coming back every year." There he served as principal and teacher, and he introduced American football to the students. As Father Burton proved again and again, he was full of energy and had a gift for moving a vision forward strategically. He built several school buildings and increased the enrollment from 400 to 2,000 students.

After a short sabbatical, Father Burton was sent to Colegio San Antonio Abad in Puerto Rico in 1957 where he was also principal and teacher until 1963. He changed the school from an industrial one into a college preparatory school. Once again he built dormitories and a swimming pool, remodeled the old school, coached sports, and introduced football as well as a summer camp for boys. Before he left his successful work in the school, Colegio San Antonio was united with the Benedictine High School of San Benito of Humacao, which already was co-educational.

A third important assignment came in 1963 when Father Burton was sent to St. Augustine's College in Nassau, Bahamas, replacing Father Frederick Frey, OSB (1907-1963). Here he built a new school, changed the system of studies, and oversaw the building of a library, administration building, new classrooms, kitchen and dining hall, and an athletic building with a swimming pool. Enrollment increased from 174 to 1,000, and the faculty expanded from a dozen to over fifty lay men and women. He established a board of directors and began to do development work in order to expand the educational mission.

Father Burton returned to Puerto Rico from 1966 to1969 to be headmaster at San Antonio Abad. There he built a new dormitory, finished the gym, and taught.

When the Christian Brothers ended their management of Benilde Catholic High School in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, Father Burton was appointed headmaster for two years in 1970. He began fundraising and welcomed additional monks from Saint John's who assumed the management of the high school.

In 1972 Father Burton was asked to go to the large inner-city parish of St. Anselm's in the Bronx, New York, as pastor. There he created a parking lot to raise money for the poor parish, started bingo, and remodeled the parish school. Then followed pastoral assignments at St. Peter and Paul's Church in Richmond (1976-1979), St. Bernard's Church in St. Paul (1979-1983), and St. Francis Xavier in Lake Park and St. Andrew's parish in Hawley (1984-1985).

In February of 1985 to 1989, Father Burton became chaplain of the Benedictine Sisters at Colegio Guadalupe in Mexico City. As chaplain he organized the alumni of Colegio Tepeyac to establish an orphanage for boys in 1991 called the Fundación Burton Bloms in Tlalpan. Father Burton returned to Minnesota and was chaplain of St. Therese Home in New Hope, Minnesota. He retired to Saint John's Abbey in August of 1998, but continued to do weekend pastoral work at the parishes of Freeport, New Munich and St. Rosa as well as being involved in the Hispanic ministry in Cold Spring until 2004. In gratitude for his service to the youth in many countries, Father Burton received the Lumen Gentium ("Light of the Nations") Award from the Saint John's Preparatory School in November 2003.

Wherever he went, Father Burton was a community builder-a zealous monk, priest, and teacher, a tireless worker for the poor, a visionary of academic excellence for our mission schools-as well as a skilled athlete. Our missions in Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas Islands are forever grateful to Father Burton for making them strong academic institutions that continue to provide service to the people of their communities.

Father Burton died on May 3, 2010, in the retirement center at Saint John's Abbey. He is survived by his sister, S. Clare Bloms, CSJ, and his brother and sister-in-law, Roger and Verna Bloms, his nieces and nephews, and the community at Saint John's Abbey. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated for Father Burton, May 7, 2010, in Saint John's Abbey Church with interment in Saint John's Cemetery following 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, Burton, to your prayers.

Abbot John Klassen OSB
and the monks of Saint John's Abbey.