Brother Dominic (George) Mihm was born in Washington, D.C. on August 12, 1919, the second of six children. After graduation 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 our Lady of the Valley. He had found his home.
He returned to the Valley on July 3, 1942 and received the Lay Brother Novice’s habit on January 10, 1943. He worked under the supervision of the Sub-master of Lay Novices, Brother Leo Gregory, who appreciated the young man’s talents and convinced the Abbot to put him in charge of the barn operation, while he was still only a second year Novice.
Two weeks later after his Simple Profession 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.
After Solemn Profession on January 18, 1948, he began working in the monastery’s infirmary in addition to his duties in the barn. When a new site for the monastery was purchased in Spencer, Massachusetts, he helped to plan for the large new barn that would be built there. After the disastrous fire at the Valley in 1950, Dominic played an important role in the acquisition of the Broad Rock herd of Holsteins destined for the new monastery.
In the early years at Spencer, he continued to supervise the dairy and farm and, as at the Valley. His occupation extended beyond this sphere into various areas. He even served for a time as the monastery’s cellarer.
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 1961 Dom Edmund 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.
In addition to his work on the farm, Dominic played an important 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 of 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.
Wrentham’s foundations in Iowa, Arizona, and Virginia also owe a debt of gratitude to Brother Dominic. Not only did he travel with Reverend Mother Angela in her preparatory visits to these sites but also accompanied the founding sisters as they headed for their new homes. He continued to offer assistance to them throughout the course of their history.
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. 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, 40 of them were spent at Wrentham, a strong proof of his love and dedication to Mount Saint Mary's Abbey. 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 it was thanks to him 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 carried out 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. 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.