Former head of the Salvatorian Order is now pastor of Maria Steinbach: what he says about the church crisis, scandals and abuses – Memmingen news

Father Hubert Veeser led the Salvatorian Order in Germany. A new chapter begins in Maria Steinbach. How he thinks about the crisis of the Church.

Father Hubert Veeser led the Salvatorians in Germany as provincial for nine years. At the branch of the order at the pilgrimage site of Maria Steinbach (Legau) for the 61-year-old, a new phase of his work begins. He spoke to our editors about the ideas he brings with him, how he lived his time as provincial and what he thought about the crisis in the Church.

They were responsible for the leadership, administration and staffing of the Order – in troubled times. What did that do to you?

Father Hubert Veeser: It was a good, demanding job, but it also pushed me to the breaking point. As a provincial, you are constantly dealing with various construction sites. A great deal was the process of pastoral and provincial planning. In nine years I had to close six branches: most recently, the Lochau school Lindauwe have had since 1893. Sometimes, as in the case of Maria Steinbach, it was back and forth, I expected a lot from the Steinbachers and the confreres.

Where were the difficulties?

Father Hubert: We used to have a lot of workforce, but this has declined since the 1960s. Therefore, we cannot avoid cuts. Then there is the experience that you are planning something at the green table, and the reality is different. Maria Steinbach showed that we still have a fun and important task, and leaving would hurt people. It is wonderful to feel this bond in our locations. On the other hand, it makes it all the more painful to tell people: After all, we decided against this house as well.

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In Maria Steinbach, you follow Father Josef Mayer as a pilgrim shepherd. How do you approach this task?

Father Hubert: It is a good prospect to return to a more personal pastoral care. I think it is important that we have a variety of offers and are present. For example, we want to extend the time of confession, be there for the faithful during pastoral talks, and celebrate the next services after the Crown. In the pilgrimage ministry I will see what awaits me. I have some ideas that I want to present to the Parish Council. For example, I could imagine a cycling day with the blessing of a bicycle. It is important that we think about and address the next generation. So far, we mainly have gray-haired guests in our services.

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Scandals – also recently – have shaken the trust of many people in the Church and its representatives. How does this affect you personally and your work?

Father Hubert: Abuses also took place in our community in the 1960s. When I was provincial superior it was the worst: sorting it out and meeting the victims, even when the diocesan violence officer was there. All I could do was listen and express my regret, sympathy. It is terrible when a priest or religious destroys the trust placed in him in this way. When you hear this from a fellow brother, something breaks down inside you. We have to live with this burden and as a priest you are quickly thrown into the pot. The worst part is that what the Church really stands for is obscured by so many things.

What do you want to counteract it?

Father Hubert: Many weddings will be held here in the near future as we have a Corona Cork. If young people are still getting married in church, it is often because they have had good experiences in the past, for example as altar boys. We need to create such spaces of experience. Opportunities for a different church experience. How is she inside. Our effort as Salvatorians is to reach this center with kindness and philanthropy and to preach Jesus. We need a living church that gives support and trust in our daily lives.

Do you feel confident or worried when you look at the lack of young people in your order?

Father Hubert: Numbers are a disaster. In doing this, I know that we have a great message as a community and that religious life offers an alternative lifestyle that can still matter to people. It’s sad that it’s not popular. With the Salvatorians, we have one young man who will be ordained in June and another who has expressed interest. Of course, that’s not enough to keep our work, but it certainly gives me confidence. We are an international religious community that is growing all over the world. In the study house in Rome, Asian and African confreres are formed with the prospect of working in Europe for some time. The community in Maria Steinbach also includes a brother from Africa, Father Delphin Chirund Ndal. I have always experienced uncomplicated collaboration in different cultures. But that doesn’t mean the solution might be: if we don’t have more priests here, we’ll just get them from elsewhere.

So, when looking at the future of the church, only trust in God helps?

Father Hubert: He is going through an existential crisis that has also reached the top. There will always be Christians. But I believe the importance of the church in society will continue to change, and it is questionable whether it will remain a strong, present national church. Perhaps it matters that we have to leave things behind and lose the privileges that made it too easy for us. Maybe that’s how we’ll become more authentic. For me, it’s a personal meeting with people with whom I can make a difference. And I believe a spiritual place like Maria Steinbach can be a great opportunity for that.

Personal data: Father Hubert Veeser

  • source: Hubert Veeser was born on September 21, 1960 in Leutkirch and grew up in Holdenreute near Kisslegg. He attended the Salvatorian boarding school in Bad Wurzach and thus ended up in a religious community.
  • career: After studying in Passau and Bonn, he worked as a chaplain in Munich-Laim and as a school chaplain in Bad Wurzach and Ravensburg. In 2012, Fr. Hubert Veeser was elected Provincial of the Order in Germany for the first time. After two re-election and nine years of service, he met the deadline in 2021.
  • change: Father Hubert Veeser has now taken up new tasks in the Salvatorian branch of Maria Steinbach. Like his confreres, he works in the Illerwinkel parish community, is responsible for Maria Steinbach parish and works as a pilgrimage pastor. He is the successor of Father Josef Mayer, who retires but still belongs to the community.
  • meeting: At the service at Pentecost on June 6, at 9 a.m. in Maria Steinbach’s Church, Fr. Josef Mayer is relieved of his duties and says goodbye as pastor, and Fr. Hubert Veeser takes over. The service will be conducted by Fr. Friedrich Emde, new Provincial of the Salvatorians.

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