Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Rev. Demetrius Dumm Oct. 1, 1923 - Nov. 17, 2013 Eminent Biblical Scholar Served 57 Years as a Teacher, Writer and Spiritual Leader

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Rev. Demetrius Dumm Oct. 1, 1923 - Nov. 17, 2013 Eminent Biblical Scholar Served 57 Years as a Teacher, Writer and Spiritual Leader

Article excerpt

The Rev. Demetrius R. Dumm studied at some of the world's most prestigious schools, could read the Scriptures in their original Greek and Hebrew, and taught the full range of courses -- from Genesis to Revelations and everything in between -- at Saint Vincent Seminary in Latrobe.

But although he was an eminent biblical scholar, Father Dumm didn't use his knowledge to debate the fine points of church doctrine but rather to bring the Bible to life for his listeners by speaking to their hearts, said his friends and former colleagues.

"He was really called to serve in many ways," said Archabbot Douglas R. Nowicki of Saint Vincent Archabbey. "Because of his deep understanding of the Bible, he was able to speak about it in a way that touched their lives and enabled them to develop a deeper friendship with the Lord."

Father Dumm, a Benedictine priest who lived at the Archabbey in Latrobe, died Sunday. He was 90.

Born on a farm near Ebensburg, Pa., on Oct. 1, 1923, Father Dumm was the son of the late Gordon and Esther (Kirsch) Dumm. One of nine children, he attended a one-room country schoolhouse where he was taught reading, writing, arithmetic and geography along with 15 to 20 other children "so the teacher had lots of time to work with each one," said Father Dumm's brother, Pat Dumm.

Father Dumm finished eight years of primary school in six years, graduating at 12. Unable to start at Saint Vincent Preparatory School until he turned 13, Father Dumm -- who, like his siblings, began doing chores at an early age -- helped with milking, haying, raising vegetables and other work on the family homestead, which made its money from selling butter, eggs, pork, potatoes and other crops, Mr. Dumm said.

"It's a good way to know what work is," he said. "We had good work ethics when we left the farm."

After graduating from prep school in 1940, Father Dumm began studies at Saint Vincent College. After two years, he entered the Benedictine monastery of Saint Vincent Archabbey as a novice in 1942 and made a simple profession of vows the following year. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy from the college in 1945, then made a solemn profession of vows in 1946.

Father Dumm had studied at the seminary between 1943 and 1946 -- sometimes at the same time he was studying at the college, then began additional study in Rome. While in Italy, he was ordained a priest at Subiaco Abbey by the Most Rev. Lorenzo Salvi in 1947. He received a Doctor of Sacred Theology degree from the Pontifical Institute of Sant'Anselmo.

He studied at the Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem from 1950 to 1952, after which he received a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Commission in Vatican City.

After returning to Saint Vincent in 1952, Father Dumm began a 57- year career as a teacher, writer and spiritual leader who educated three generations of Catholic priests until his retirement in 2010.

Early on, he taught biblical Greek and Hebrew while also serving as the seminary's vice rector from 1955 to 1963. After becoming rector in 1963, his teaching career focused on the Scriptures, which he had a special skill in presenting in a way his listeners could understand, said the Rev. Richard Infante, pastor of Our Lady of Grace in Ross.

To students, Father Dumm always emphasized how they, as priests with parishes of their own someday, could and should translate the Scriptures to their parishioners, said Father Infante, who now teaches a class of his own at St. Paul Seminary in Crafton. …

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