Abbot Charles Mohr, O.S.B.

Abbot, Saint Leo Abbey, Florida (1902-1931)

Charles Henry Mohr was born on January 24, 1863 in Chillicothe, Ohio, the son of Rhine-Prussian immigrants. His father Ludwig Mohr was a carpenter, his mother Helene Doll was widowed and married twice. The marriage produced twelve children.

Heinrich Mohr attended the parish school in Portsmouth, Ohio, and at the age of thirteen, in 1876, entered the college of Saint Vincent Abbey, Latrobe. After the election of his teacher Leo Haid as abbot of the Abbey of Mary Help of Christians in Garibaldi, North Carolina, (1886 renamed Belmont) in 1885, he accompanied him there and was on June 22, 1886 with the later Prior Roman Kirchner by Bishop Henry Northrop ordained a priest there.

At Saint Mary’s College Belmont he taught German, telegraphy, rhetoric and piano and was also prefect and chaplain until he was transferred to Saint Agnes Church in Greenboro in the summer of 1888 for health reasons. The following year he took over the Sacred Heart Church mission station in Raleigh, North Carolina and from August 1890 built up the Saint Leo Military College and the Saint Leo Mission station in San Antonio, Florida—after Haid’s first choice, Father Friedrich Hoesel of Newark Abbey, had died of tuberculosis on July 31, 1889 (in the meantime Father Roman Kirchner had directed the station).

On May 18, 1894, he was elected conventual prior by acclamation in the first chapter of the four other priest-monks eligible to vote (he himself was the fifth). On July 11, 1902, Prior Mohr was elected abbot and confirmed as such on September 25, 1902. The solemn Benedictine by Abbot-Bishop Leo Haid took place on November 27, 1902. Assistants were Archabbot Leander Schnerr of Saint Vincent (Latrobe) and Abbot President Innocent Wolf of Saint Benedict’s (Atchison).

After more than ten years of asking to be allowed to resign, and having appealed directly to the Pope in Rome in 1925 and again in 1928, Abbot Mohr finally received approval in 1929 with Francis Sadliera coadjutor. Traveling to Cincinnati in September 1930 to attend the consecration of Franciscan Missionary Bishop Sylvester Espelage, he suffered a stroke there. After a hospital stay, he returned to Saint Leo a month later and resumed his teaching (moral theology) but died of pneumonia on Good Friday 1931. As he wished, he was buried at the foot of the altar in the Lourdes Grotto on the Abbey grounds. More than a thousand people attended his funeral. He was friends with President Theodore Roosevelt.