What is your vocation story?
Br. Anthony “Tony” (baptized with the name Bernard) Wiedemer, C.M., is originally from Louisville, Kentucky. He is the youngest of six children in his family and had a religious upbringing; several relatives were priests, brothers, and sisters. In grade school, Br. Tony was taught by Ursuline sisters and then in high school by the Xavarian brothers. That was his first contact with brothers and he started thinking about being a brother. Br. Tony helped out and took care of things around his home parish of St. Elizabeth of Hungary in the Germantown area of Louisville.
After high school he worked for General Electric and was dating but kept thinking about being a brother. He did not like school and studying, but felt called to religious life and helping others. Though he was settled in life, Tony decided to try religious life and see how it worked out. His parents were very supportive and he had relatives who were priests, brothers, or sisters, like his uncle who was a Marianist brother. At that time, the Serra club promoted vocations and had a vocation gathering with lots of different communities present and he went to check it out. He met some of the Vincentian brothers from Perryville, Missouri. He felt encouraged in his vocation after meeting the Vincentians and decided to check out Perryville. After some consideration, he decided to go and try it out [brotherhood]. One of his parish priests took him there. Br. Tony started at Perryville on July 19, 1963 and then in December of same year he entered the novitiate (two years of learning about the Vincentian community, its works, daily life, and prayer life). He took temporary vows (now called ‘Good Purposes’) on December 21, 1965.
Br. Tony’s first assignment was working in the business office in Perryville with Br. Leo. At the time, Perryville was very active with a seminary, large farm, and many other works. This is where he was trained in bookkeeping there. He liked being with people and was helping take care of several little parishes around Perryville: he helped train people for mass, taught religious education, and kept things running. After seven years in Perryville and the surrounding area, he was assigned to the Novitiate in Santa Barbara, California, to be treasurer for three years. This was hard work as Tony had to learn all the contacts and keep the books. While there, the province in the west was divided into three Vice-Provinces and Tony elected to stay in the Vice-Province (and later, Province) of the West. After three years, he moved to the new theology school of the three western provinces, DeAndreis in Lamont, Illinois, which had moved from Perryville, Missouri. For 11 years, Br. Tony worked there before it was closed and he we went back to the Province of the West. He was given the choice of working at St. John’s seminary in Camarillo, California, and being in charge of and evaluating the apostolic work assignments fo the seminarians or going to St. Vincent’s Parish in Los Angeles. He went to the parish as the new pastor requested him. Br. Tony has been at St. Vincent’s Parish since 1984.
At St. Vincent’s Parish, Tony was business manager, plant manager, and bookkeeper for the church and school; it was a lot of work with many employees. He also was communion minister and chaplain at a local hospital once a week and taught religious education to 3rd- and 4th-grade students in the evenings. After visiting the Vincentian mission in Guatemala during the war there and visiting the families of the disappeared, he felt called to reach out more in the parish and area around Los Angeles. On his day off, Tony gathered clothes and food and took them to those in need in a small coastal village across the border in Mexico. This was a little difficult as Br. Tony did not speak Spanish. He loved the people there. Then parishioners at St. Vincent’s got involved, a van was donated, and it was organize to go every couple of months with larger quantities of goods. Eventually, it was harder to cross the border due to paperwork and his community jobs, like being on the Provincial Council, and Tony had to let the work go. Now, he is a senior in service at the parish, helps out at the parish school and serves on the Finance Council for the Western Province Vincentians. While he is slowing down a bit as he turns seventy on May 2, Tony still enjoys being with the people.
Br. Anthony “Tony” Wiedemer, C.M., is originally from St. Elizabeth of Hungary parish in the Germantown area of Louisville, Kentucky. The youngest of six children, he had a religious upbringing. After high school, he worked for General Electric though he thought about being a brother. While working, he attended vocation gathering of religious communities sponsored by the Serra Club and met the Vincentian brothers from Perryville, Missouri. Tony felt encouraged in his vocation after meeting the Vincentians, visited Perryville and after some consideration, he decided to go and try it out [brotherhood]. He started at Perryville on July 19, 1963 and then in December of same year he entered the novitiate (two years of learning about the Vincentian community, its works, daily life, and prayer life). He took temporary vows (now called ‘Good Purposes’) on December 21, 1965.
Br. Tony worked in the business office and learned accounting and bookkeeping. In his time as a Vincentian brother, he has been assigned to Perryville, the novitiate at Santa Barbara (California), DeAndreis School of Theology in Lamont (Illinois), and St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Los Angeles, where he has ministered since 1984. Tony has served in many capacities in the Vincentian community (i.e. Provincial Council)and now is a senior in service at the parish, helps out at the parish school and serves on the Finance Council for the Western Province Vincentians. While he is slowing down a bit as he turns seventy on May 2, Tony still enjoys being with the people.
What does it mean to you to be a Vincentian brother?
Br. Tony did not grow up with Vincentians, but liked the vows and the work brothers could do. Brothers can do whatever their gifts enable them to do, not just farming or maintenance, which was traditional brother work. Brothers do the works of the community by using their talents in service to the mission, which is evangelization of the poor. For Br. Tony, a Vincentian brother works with the the people and those living in poverty and in need.
What do you love about being a brother?
When he came into the community, brothers were second class citizens and had their own recreation hall, chapel, and other areas. Then, the priests and brothers started to work together and those divisions went away. Tony loves the humbleness of being a brother and doing God’s work.
What would you like people to know about being a brother?
Being a brother is not being ‘only’ a brother, as some people say. Brotherhood is a difference in vocation and how God calls a person. The brothers take the same vows as a priest but have a different calling and they do ministry differently (like not doing sacramental ministry, which is reserved to the ordained).