As we think of the history of the Salvatorians in the United States, we see the presence of Salvatorian Brothers in every area of ministry: in day-to-day “worker” ministries, tending fields and caring for livestock, in classrooms, and on campuses, working at summer camps, serving individuals with disabilities,
maintaining farming implements and generators, as missionaries in Africa,
and so much more. The presence and service of our brothers are a vital part
of the Salvatorian mission in the United States and beyond!
Brother Gerard Langenberg, SDS, is an example of a Salvatorian Brother whose quiet service touched countless lives. As a young man, he entered our brothers’ formation program in St. Nazianz, Wisconsin, but had to leave soon after because of health concerns. However, he was able to return to the community in 1935 and made his profession of vows in September 1937.
Throughout his life, Bro. Gerard’s primary ministries included gardening, farming, and managing the orchards for our communities at St. Nazianz, Divine Savior Seminary in Lanham, Maryland, the Salvatorian Novitiate in Colfax, Iowa, and at Mother of the Savior Seminary in Blackwood, New Jersey.
He also served at a parish in Oregon and took care of the grounds at Mount St. Paul College in Waukesha, Wisconsin, until it closed in 1970. Bro. Gerard eventually “retired” to Arizona but returned to Wisconsin in 1983 to serve at the Salvatorian Mission Warehouse in New Holstein, Wisconsin, until old age and infirmity prompted him to move into a nursing facility. Bro. Gerard died peacefully in November 1994.
When asked about Bro. Gerard, Salvatorian archivist, Fr. Mike Hoffman, SDS, shared the following reflection:
Oh man, what a joy!
During my four years [at St. Nazianz], Bro. Gerard was among the most admired Salvatorians, by the seminary students. He was in charge of the large orchard on the property. He was also the caretaker of the beehives. It was common for a handful of students to get together to “go help Bro. Gerard” during free time after classes each day. He was usually quiet and reserved, but he loved telling the students stories about life in the monastery and the work he did through the years.
His story was much like the story of many of the brothers to the students in the seminary. While we knew the priests who were our teachers much better,
the brothers were often the ones we spent more free time with and admired. They didn’t have an agenda with us. They weren’t formally teaching us in class, but they taught us by their example and their friendship.
Working with them was the fun part of our day, and there were no expectations or grades to worry about. Even today, at our class reunions, when we talk about all the Salvatorians who were with us during our four years in St. Nazianz, our memories of our connections with the brothers are the ones we seem to cherish the most.
Salvatorian Bro. Sean McLaughlin, among his many ministries, was also committed to helping with the visualization and establishment of an organization promoting the vocation of religious brothers, the Religious Brothers Conference (RBC) which educates the Church about lay religious life for men, including sponsoring Relgious Religious Brothers Day on May 1.
Today, brothers remain an integral part of our mission. You will find them ministering in retreat work and catechesis, as well as writing, serving among Native American communities, in prisons, supporting our aging confreres, and in the ministry of prayer.