Saturday, January 26, 2019

From Sister Martina OSB: personal accounts of the arrival of the new abbess!

Sister gave me permission to post them here! She has been sending these to family and friends. 

Grüβ Gott !yesterday was a full and happy day here. Due to some strike in the airports of Frankfurt and Munich our poor new Abbess, who was flying from Washington, had to change her flight many times. We were finally waiting her to come over Vienna and to arrive at around 10 in Munich. What was not our surprise to wake at 4.30 in the morning with the manly voice of our Chaplain calling the Prioress from outside and telling her that Mother Hildegard had had a last change with Lufthansa in the middle of the night… and since it was too late to email us, she wrote him. So he came to tell us that she would be in Munich already at 7.30… He celebrated Mass without any singing and there they went to the airport, in the monastery's very old car, he, the Prioress and another Sister. We went on with our normal prayers and work until news came that the travelers were already near Eichstätt. Laughing and talking and the bells ringing, ahah. We opened the big gate, always closed, and from the car came our hugely tall new Abbess, very American and tired, but smiling and hugging each Sister, from the oldest to the youngest. Then breakfast and more laughing and talking, although in German style, ohoh. At noon prayer I came late and was happy not to see the Abbess there yet, when I remembered that she was still sitting at a back bench, aiai…. In the afternoon came our good young Bishop and there was a simple and really nice ceremony: she received her officially as Bishop and gave her the official Letter of the Diocese in the name of the Pope and her pectoral cross - the same one used by old Abbess who lived in America many years (because the Gestapo had threatened her with prison, since she refused to make the children say Heil Hitler in the school here). She had to solemnly proclaim the Credo and then we went in procession to the Chapel where her chair was nicely decorated with flowers. Each Sister then must come and put the hands into her hand and promise her obedience: she in turn hugged again each Sister, which for the Germans is a great surprise! After that Vesper and a Bavarian dinner, ah. I served table with another Sister and we printed a sweet St Walburga that my sister Ana made for children, added the Bavarian and American flags and a Welcome and pinned it to our habits. Everybody laughed. Poor Mother Hildegard is now resting with her jet leg and we are happy with a Mother again, who seems modest and nice and motherly, besides being, as we knew, an excellent nun…. Much love,M

First days with our new American Abbess are really funny and nice. She is almost 2 meters tall, but sweet and quiet and modest, so much so that we must make an effort to remember she is actually the Abbess already and for example stand up when she enters! The first days are clearly a shock to her and she herself says how it seems that she is seeing herself in a film, receiving the Mayor, sitting in the middle of us all in the chapel, going around a thousand year old monastery, getting used to the fact that the Germans do not laugh and hug much and etc. Although she knows Germany and us well, she comes directly from the desert in Colorado and yesterday, for example, all German Sisters were totally astonished to hear that they have over there 3 dogs and one of them, almost as big as a pony, actually slept in her room sometimes! We all exchange the 'news' when we meet each other, also our dear employees, and the stories of the new Abbess run wide already. As she went yesterday on foot, very simply, to the City Hall in order to get her simple VISA documents, the young Mayor was there himself to attend her and she says: I needed time to understand that he was there for me! She seems immune to power, and asks our Prioress for instructions in everything, in order not to impose any new thing, she says. After dinner, for example, she looks at our Prioress, who whispers: 'Now recreation...' and she says then aloud, with her American accent: Jetzt rekreation! And we all laugh. At the Chapel, she looks from her chair to the Prioress who then comes and tells her the mistakes she does in the prayers. A real nice person and I told her already - who indirectly knows my sister Ana in the US - how happy I am to have such fresh air! Our old dear Abbess comes back on Sunday and just the meeting will be already fun: one almost 2 m, the other 1,50 m tall...... As for the rest, work and work and work for the consecration at the end of February. Almost all Abbots and Abbess and Bishops from Bavari are invited and so many other people. Her coat of arms is also typical of her fun ways: an Oak, since, she says she was born in Oak City, her name in Czech means 'little Oak' and Eichstätt mean 'Oak town'....   

Much love,


Dear Friends and Family,

just to send you the last 'happy end' photo of our 'new Abbess adventure'. Beloved Mother Franziska is back, refreshed and even more full of humour: vacations did her much good. After 34 years, it's still very strange to see her a simple Sister, without her pectoral cross, in a common place in the Chapel, and also not to stand up when she enters and seeing her standing up for a much younger Abbess. At table both Abbesses sit together and many times both forget their new roles, we laugh all the time. They could not be more different: one a young, tall, practical, laughing and very simple and nice American; the other an old, short, intellectual, severe and much more emotional German… Perhaps because of this - and because of their old friendship - they complement each other so well. Both are to each other attentive, respectful and daughterly-motherly kind: a joy to see. These are really happy times for us here and all around, from the children at school to the Mayor, from the many newspaper interviews and articles to the guests and friends, all tell us that this peaceful and loving atmosphere does them good: a continuation of important things with a fresh change in small things. I, for my part, could not be happier: the balanced and loving mixture of European tradition and American pragmatism is for me, personally, a blessing...

Much love to all!

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