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“Historians,” in the words of my colleague, Ken Jones, professor of history, “think about change and continuity over long sweeps of time. “The details matter, but only insofar as they somehow illuminate the big picture,” Jones said. “Benedictines in a way live in the long term.”

Fr. Colman’s vision: ‘Imagine’ Fr. Colman was an historian of the monastic past and a visionary of its future. He had his critics who called him a showman, not a scholar. Fr. Colman took the remark as a compliment. Fr. Vincent Tegeder, OSB, the chair of the history department, wrote in his evaluation of Fr. Colman’s teaching that “his open and jovial personality serve him well in the classroom.” As a former student in Fr. Colman’s class on the history of Catholicism in the United States, I know what Fr. Vincent meant. A trademark crewcut gave Fr. Colman a dash of style. He would briskly walk into the classroom as if he had just

returned from discussions in Rome at the Vatican II Council and would drop the names of celebrity theologians and bishops he had met. Fr. Colman spoke without notes and developed his themes through a stream of jokes and anecdotes of his encounters with the luminaries of Catholicism in our time. The author of three books, he acknowledged his students had helped him on the way. On the first day of one of his classes, he began, “Gentlemen, this semester we are going to write a book.” Fr. Colman never forgot his roots as an Irishman from Lake City, Minnesota. His confrere, Fr. Hilary Thimmesh, OSB, professor emeritus of English and also a former president of Saint John’s (198291), recalls Fr. Colman’s unique approach. “Saint John’s was very Teutonic, and Fr. Colman was

Fr. Colman Barry, OSB (left) was instrumental in establishing Minnesota Public Radio in 1967 along with Bill Kling ’64. Fr. Colman’s contributions to Saint John’s University also included founding the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library and establishing the Jay Phillips Chair in Jewish Studies and the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning.

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Profile for CSB & SJU

Saint John's Magazine Winter/Spring 2019  

Saint John's Magazine is published in the fall and winter for alumni, parents, friends and the Saint John's University campus community.

Saint John's Magazine Winter/Spring 2019  

Saint John's Magazine is published in the fall and winter for alumni, parents, friends and the Saint John's University campus community.

Profile for csbsju
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