The Dominicans Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus

Fr. Benedict Mary Augustine Blank, OP

Augustine Blank was born in Sacramento, California on May 31, 1902.  Orphaned at an early age, he was raised by relatives and attended grammar and high schools in Sacramento, San Francisco, and Oakland.  His first affiliation with the Order and Province was the two years he spent at St. Thomas College, the apostolic school then conducted by the Province at Ross (Kentfield), California.  In 1923 he received the habit and began his novitiate at St. Joseph's Priory, Somerset, Ohio.  It was at this time that he took the name "Benedict Mary," which later became well known throughout the Province in their initialed form, "B.M.B."  He made his profession of simple vows at Somerset in 1924 and then for two years studied philosophy at St. Rose Priory, Springfield, Kentucky and at the Dominican House of Studies, River Forest, Illinois.

In 1926 he was sent to Rome and resided at the Roman priory of the Irish Province, San Clemente, while pursuing his theological studies at the Collegio Angelico of the Order (now the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas).  He made his solemn profession in Rome in 1927 and was ordained to the priesthood there on July 7,1929.  Two years later he was awarded the degrees of Lector and Doctor of Theology.  Returning to the Province, he began his long association with St. Albert's College as Professor of Philosophy, Theology, and Canon Law.  In 1932 he was appointed Master of Students and Pro-Regent of the Studium, positions that he held until 1940.  From 1935 until 1946 he also taught philosophy and theology at Dominican College of San Rafael.

In 1940 Father Blank was elected Provincial of the Province of the Holy Name, a post that he filled for three successive terms, until 1952.  As Provincial he showed himself to be a forceful superior and a vigorous administrator.  Due mainly to his efforts, the present physical plant of St. Albert's College was completed and dedicated and the Kentfield Priory, which served as the novitiate of the Province, was constructed and staffed.  Even as Provincial he continued his interest in teaching, his first love, and served as Professor at Dominican College of San Rafael and as lecturer in the summer sessions of the Catholic University of America, held on the San Rafael campus.

Upon completion of his third term as Provincial in 1952, he was appointed as Prior and Regent of the "Angelicum" in Rome by Father Master General Emanuel Suarez.  In the same year he was honored with the degree of Master in Theology.  He is still remembered in Rome for his hard work in reorganizing the community and intellectual life of the "Angelicum" after the destructive years of World War II.  He returned to California again from Rome in 1955 to serve as chaplain and Professor of Theology to the Dominican Sisters at Mission San Jose, and as Professor of Dogmatic Theology at St. Albert's.  In 1958 he accepted the position of chairman of the departments of philosophy and theology at Dominican College, San Rafael, and held these positions with distinction until a series of strokes beginning in 1968 compelled him to resign.

Father Blank was totally dedicated and objective in his work for the Church, the Order, and the Province.  He treasured his friends, both among the brethren and among the laity.  Behind the gruff, impatient, often sarcastic exterior, there was a man of warmth, humor, loyalty, and generosity.  Father Blank bore the pain and humiliation of his long, debilitating illness with exemplary patience and gentleness.  As a man used to intense activity, he suffered for five years the agony of almost total inactivity.  He died peacefully on February 13, 1973, while under the care of the Sisters of Nazareth at their hospital near San Rafael and is buried in the Dominican Cemetery, Benicia, California.

Photo: Father Benedict Blank with Pope Pius XII on October 27, 1954

Date of Birth

Date of Profession

Date of Ordination

Date of Death

May 31, 1902

September 23, 1924

July 7, 1929

February 13, 1973

XII:154

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