A Peaceful, Loving, Friend & Companion to all in Wrentham and Beyond
Brother Dominic (George) Mihm was born in Washington, D.C. on August 12, 1919, the second of six children. After graduating from high school in 1938, he asked to join Maryknoll and was sent to Venard College in Clark’s Summit, Pennsylvania by way of preparation for their seminary. After the successful completion of his first year there, his Superiors suggested that his health might not hold up under the rigors of missionary life in foreign countries. He then returned to Washington, where he became the Assistant Manager of the carriers for the Washington Star. He later went to work with a construction company and could boast that he helped to build the Pentagon in his own hometown. On one occasion he hitchhiked with a friend up to New England to visit relatives there. Finding themselves one night stranded in a heavy downpour, they took refuge in a nearby monastery, which put them up for the night. It was at our Lady of the Valley, Trappist Monastery, Rhode Island, that he found his home and vocation in life – a Trappist monk.
On January 14, 1945, he was sent to the monastery of Our Lady of the Prairies in Manitoba, Canada for training in animal husbandry, which would remain his favorite work throughout his life. After six months he returned to the Valley to continue his work managing the barn. It was in his capacity of Dairy Manager that he was instrumental in the purchase of a farm in Wrentham in 1946 from the Garelick Dairy in Franklin, Massachusetts for the establishment of what would become the first convent of Cistercian nuns in the U.S.
Throughout these early years he continued to help the sisters at Wrentham after the inauguration of their monastery in 1949, paying periodic visits to inspect their herd. In early January his Abbot of Spencer, MA asked him to go to Wrentham for a few weeks. These “few weeks” would be transformed as if by magic into 40 years! And so, Dominic took up residence there and began to assist the sisters in their farm operation on a permanent basis. This would be the beginning of long years of dedication to the sisters and their monastery, to Wrentham friends and families.
In addition to his work on the farm, Dominic played a significant role in making contacts between the monastery and its neighbors in the Wrentham—Franklin area, often offering skilled assistance to farmers who needed help. Little by little Dominic became a beloved figure in the entire region. Many of those who came to know him offered their own services to help the sisters in their various needs. Dominic organized all these activities. A series of serious heart attacks in December 1986 caused him to cut back on heavy physical exertion and to give up his role as Director of Farm Operations at the convent. Undaunted by this limitation, however, he found other less strenuous ways to contribute, putting to good use his veterinary skills for the benefit of the sisters as well as of the monastery’s friends in the vicinity. One of his favorite chores up until a year or two before his death was the weekly collection of bread and pastry goods that had gone beyond their expiration date. These were donated to the monastery by several local bakeries for feeding the herd. Dominic saw to it that some of this was given to the needy. Any survey of Dominic’s activities would be incomplete without a mention of one of the activities closest to his heart for many years, the cancer support group of Saint Aidan’s Parish, Rhode Island. Not only did Dom participate in its regular meetings, but also he organized various activities of the group, such as a yearly visit to Saint Joseph’s Abbey. Most important of all, he visited members who were ill or dying. Faithfully he assisted at the funerals of those who died, where he was usually called upon to serve as acolyte for the function. When asked how a funeral went, his frequent reply was, “I was on the altar.”
Of the 55 years Dom lived as a professed monk, forty of them were spent in Wrentham, a strong proof of his love and dedication to Mount Saint Mary's Abbey, Wrentham. It was for this reason that he asked to be buried there. This did not mean, however, that his love for his own monastery was in any way lessened. Dom was a man who united rather than separated. He served as a link between the two monasteries, and the people of Wrentham and Franklin. Many times when neighboring farmers, whose cows, and even cats, were having difficulty giving birth or needed advice and support for one reason or another, Brother Dominic would be called upon any time during night or day to give them a helping hand. Many a person would knock at his door needing a word of comfort, a bed for the night a little money for food. He never refused those who came seeking him for support, a word or simply just a little time to speak with him. He was a well-known unofficial “confessor” to many a renegade person. They could share any problems with him and know it would be safe with him. It was thanks to Brother Dom in part that over the years the bonds between us have grown stronger and stronger. In his own life he also united a love and dedication to manual labor with great devotion to prayer, lectio, and the Liturgy. For years he rose each morning at 2:00 a.m. to pray in his favorite armchair in the sacristy until the Vigil service at 3:15, at which he also assisted. He then returned to his chair until Lauds and Mass. An important function, which Dom conducted to perfection, was his role as Master of Ceremonies in the sanctuary during Mass. The end of a hard day’s work once again found him in his favorite chair waiting for Vespers to begin. Compline brought an end to his day and, only then, would he head back in his old car to the Chaplain’s house. Brother Dominic died on March 10, 2001. During the night and day of his wake it was obvious many of his friends had come to say a final private ‘farewell’ and to the sisters’ dismay one or two of his friends clipped a little of his hair to keep as a keepsake! His funeral on March 14th was the largest congregation we have ever had. The celebrant at the beginning of the homily at the funeral mass looked around the church and said, “Brother Dom would love this. He loved big crowds.” There were 170 guests, all his Wrentham and beyond Wrentham friends whom he had supported in one way or the other and ninety monks and nuns, making a total of 260 guests with him at his farewell mass and funeral.
Beyond all that can be said of his goodness, many will have their own sheaf of memories of his kindnesses to themselves as well as the inspiration that came to them as part of knowing him.