Father Vincent George Tegeder, OSB

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Monk of Saint John's Abbey
Collegeville, Minnesota

Born: October 1, 1910
Professed: August 26, 1931
Ordained: 1937 
Died: Wednesday, April 4, 2007

 

George William Tegeder was the oldest child of William and Hildegard (Ruegg) Tegeder. Although he was born in La Crosse, Wisconsin, on October 1, 1910, he grew up and spent his early years in northeast Minneapolis attending St. Boniface Parochial School. He was ever after loyal to the "Nordeast." He attended Saint John's Preparatory School and graduated in 1928. After his sophomore year at Saint John's University, he entered the novitiate at Saint John's Abbey. He received the name of Vincent, and professed first vows on August 26, 1931. Earning a bachelor's degree at Saint John's University in 1933, he continued study for the priesthood there until 1937 when he was ordained.

As often happened then, Father Vincent had begun teaching in Saint John's Preparatory School before ordination. He continued from 1935 to 1942, and Abbot Alcuin Deutsch OSB appointed him Dean of the Preparatory School. During his tenure he reorganized the curriculum from being that of a commercial school to that of a college preparatory school. In 1937 he began summer sessions in social science at the University of Minnesota and at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where, in 1942, he completed a master's degree in history.

Awarded fellowships from 1942 to 1945, Father Vincent stayed on at the University of Wisconsin to earn a doctorate in American history in 1949. He wrote his thesis, "The Territories and the Lincoln Administration, 1861-1865," under the direction of Dr. William Hesseltine. He and other Hesseltine students stayed in active contact with each other for fifty years.

For thirty-three years Father Vincent was the mainstay of the History Department at Saint John's University (1946-1979). He was chairman of the History Department from 1954 until 1973. His passionate interest in American Studies and a special devotion to the Civil War, led Fr. Vincent to become an active member of the Minnesota Civil War Roundtable and hosted its September meeting until just last year.

Despite pressing duties in the university, Fr. Vincent found time to publish scholarly articles, and to serve summers as visiting professor at Sacramento State in 1965 and 1967 and at the University of San Francisco in 1966. The Hill Foundation awarded a grant to study in Israel and Denmark in the summer of 1961, and the United States Office of Education funded his study in India during the summer of 1970. He was a professor of history at Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan, from 1973 to 1974 during which time he presented four programs on Japanese National Television.

With his booming voice and hearty laugh he was loved and appreciated by all his students. As much as he enjoyed the classroom, he relished the time he spent each weekend in Minneapolis parishes such as Christ the King, Immaculate Conception, St. Stephen, St. Clement, and St. Phillip. He also did weekend pastoral duty at St. Dominic's in Northfield, St. Henry's in Monticello, and St. Timothy's in Blaine as well as Cass Lake during the summer. In the 1990s he sometimes substituted for his nephew, Fr. Michael Tegeder, at Our Lady of the Lake parish in Mound. Father Vincent's health, energy, and zeal allowed him to take such assignments for over 37 years.

All his experience and love of history prepared him for the crown of his career as Abbey and University Archivist for 29 years.

In 1975, armed with a certificate in archival work from the National Archives in Washington, D.C., he created the University Archives by separating them from the Abbey Archives. He was appointed archivist for the university (1975-1994) and for the abbey (1978-1996).

Father Vincent demonstrated a keen ability for organization and pioneered computer-assisted retrieval of almost any bit of history concerning the abbey or university. Until September 1995, he wrote the obituaries for many monks. He enlisted the help of other monks as translators of archival documents that were inaccessible without German or the even rarer ability to read old German handwriting. As Archivist Emeritus, Fr. Vincent recorded entries in the official chronicle of the abbey until a few years before his death.

In 1991 and 1992 Fr. Vincent created the archives of St. Augustine's Monastery in Nassau, Bahamas, by organizing 100 years of data, documents, site plans, architectural drawings, letters, and photographs.

Father Vincent responded cheerily to the repeated invitations from Saint John's Administrative Assembly for him to make presentations on Saint John's history. The monthly gatherings were enlivened by his evident enthusiasm and hearty good humor. His love of Saint John's was infectious, and it continues to inspire many devoted alumni.

Nearing the century mark, Father Vincent amazed his confreres with his zestful spirit. Even after moving to the retirement center, the good monk participated faithfully in our common life and prayer. All his confreres and friends will sadly miss the characteristic Tegeder chuckle.

Father Vincent died peacefully on Wednesday, April 4, 2007, in Saint Raphael Hall, the retirement center at Saint John's Abbey. He is survived by his brothers, Roy and William; his sister, Mary Chatlelaine; his sister-in-law, Ruth Tegeder; nieces and nephews, other family, dear friends, former students and the monastic community.

The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated for Father Vincent at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 10, 2007, in Saint John's Abbey Church. Interment in Saint John's Cemetery follows the Mass.

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, Vincent, to your prayers.

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