When Saint Vincent Seminary faculty member Father Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B., published his first book in 1987, he hadn’t given much thought to how commercially successful it would be – he was more interested in its content than its sales. But a little over a decade since Flowers in the Desert: A Spirituality of the Bible was released, the sales have drawn his attention.
The book’s first print run of more than 18,000 copies from Paulist Press sold out and a reprint edition from St. Bede’s Publications was released in July of 1998. Now that has sold out and Saint Vincent Archabbey Publications has completed a third printing of the book, released this month. The book is used for classes in Florida, Ohio, California, Canada, and elsewhere, is in demand for use at retreats, and is even listed on the Internet’s largest book selling site, amazon.com.
“I have had a lot of feedback from people who found it helpful,” said Father Demetrius, a Carrolltown, Cambria County native who has taught at Saint Vincent Seminary since 1952. His aim in writing the book was to bring Scripture to a wider audience, as sometimes good Biblical scholarship is only available to scholars.
Flowers in the Desert concentrates on the spiritual teaching of the Old and New Testaments, starting with God’s call to all men and women. Then it considers the faith adventure of the journey through life and finally, the “ultimate homecoming to the Father.” There are many references to Biblical passages and their application to daily life.
Father Demetrius is also the author of Cherish Christ Above All: The Bible in the Rule of Benedict (1996), published by Paulist Press. HIS third book, on the gospel of John, has been completed and is in the editing process at Liturgical Press.
Flowers in the Desert is available by writing to Saint Vincent Archabbey Publications, 300 Fraser Purchase Road, Latrobe, Pa., 15650-2690. The list price is $12.95, plus $2.50 for shipping, handling and sales tax (a recent court ruling has now made religious publications taxable). The book is also available in the Saint Vincent College Book Center in Kennedy Hall and the Basilica Gift Shop in the Saint Vincent Parish Center, both on campus.
Father Demetrius attended a one-room country school, finishing eight grades in six years, before attending Saint Vincent Preparatory School, from which he graduated in 1940. He received a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy from Saint Vincent College in 1945, and attended Saint Vincent Seminary from 1943 to 1946. He received a Doctor of Sacred Theology degree in 1950 from the Pontifical Institute of Sant’ Anselmo, Rome. He studied at the École Biblique in Jerusalem from 1950 to 1952, after which he received a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Commission, Vatican City.
He entered the Benedictine Monastic Community of Saint Vincent Archabbey in 1942. He made simple profession of vows on July 2, 1943, and solemn profession of vows on July 11, 1946. He was ordained a priest at Subiaco Abbey, Italy, by the Most Rev. Lorenzo Salvi, O.S.B., on December 7, 1947.
At Saint Vincent Seminary he has taught Sacred Scripture since 1952. He served as Rector of the Seminary from 1963 to 1980 and Vice Rector from 1955 to 1963. He also taught Biblical Greek from 1952 to 1959, and was Professor of Hebrew from 1959 to 1961. Father Demetrius was Seminary Director of Spiritual Life from 1989 to 1993.
He has given a series of lectures in England to the Union of Monastic Superiors, comprising all the abbots and abbesses of the Benedictine and Cistercian monasteries in Great Britain, Ireland and Scotland, and has given a number of retreats in England, Ireland and Taiwan. He has given retreats to most of the Benedictine monasteries in the United States and for bishops of thirteen states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands. He is a major contributor and one of the editors of the Collegeville Pastoral Dictionary of Biblical Theology. He has also contributed to the New Jerome Bible Commentary. He has written numerous articles for The American Benedictine Review and The New Catholic Encyclopedia.
He has also served in the greater community in a variety of positions. He has taught summer school at various colleges and convents (1956–present); and served as a member of the Commission for Christian Unity of the Diocese of Greensburg (1963–80); as charter member of the East Coast Rectors’ Conference (1964–80) and as past-president (1972–74); as a member of the Faith and Order Committee of the Pennsylvania Council of Churches (1971–76); as a member of the Council of the Abbot President of the American Cassinese Congregation of the Benedictine Order (1973–85). He also served as a professor in Duquesne University’s Institute of Formative Spirituality (1978–85); as a representative to the Pennsylvania Conference on Interchurch Cooperation (1981–90) and chairman of its Committee on Theological Consultation (1982–90); as a member of the Board of Incorporators of Saint Vincent College, Inc. and as a member of the Board of Directors of Saint Vincent College (various terms).
Father Demetrius is one of nine children, the son of the late Gordon and the late Esther (Kirsch) Dumm. His brother Father Wilfred Dumm, O.S.B., is also a Benedictine monk of Saint Vincent Archabbey. His other brothers and sisters include Mrs. Dolores Demma, Lusby, Md.; Donald Dumm, Ebensburg; Mrs. John (Imogene) Reidy, Silver Spring, Md.; Mrs. Frank (Roselyn) Colella, Rockville, Md.; Clair Dumm, Ebensburg; Fred Thomas, Bald Eagle and Patrick Dumm, Summerhill.