Quite unexpectedly, Brother Robert (Alois) Blank OSB died in the infirmary of Münsterschwarzach during the evening of 8 February 2019, during Vespers at about 6:20 p.m.  He had wanted to come to supper, and when the nurse went again to look for him, he was found lying dead on his bed.  Brother Robert still had been coming each day to choir and to the refectory, meeting the monastic community at various places while making his rounds in the house and outside.  He died in harmony with the antiphon for the Vespers canticle that day, “Have the same mind as was in Christ Jesus.”

This principle served as the guide for the Catholic Christian family into which Alois Blank came into the world on 29 December 1930 in Bad Mergentheim-Löffelstelzen, as the fourth child of Johann and Maria, née Ruf.  The later 13-member family was influenced by his Benedictine uncle, our confrère and missionary, Father Heribert Ruf, who was his mother’s brother.   His journey towards entrance into the monastery on 15 February 1949 was straightforward: from primary school in his home town of Löffelstelzen, through apprenticeship as a baker, to becoming a journeyman in 1948.  His postulancy began on 6 March 1949, and his novitiate on 16 March 1950. From then on, he was known as Brother Robert, who entrusted himself to God and to his brothers for three years on 11 April 1951, and then for life on 9 May 1954.

Brother Robert was a baker by profession, but he was assigned many areas of work in the monastery. From 1951 to 1963, Brother Robert worked in the office of the mission procurator.  There he learned the art of letter writing. With this gift, he maintained loyalty to many people throughout his life and gifted them with his care and concern. When a farm in Krandorf, Upper Palatinate was donated to the abbey, Brother Robert moved there to serve as the kitchen master for guests and also as its guestmaster from 1963 to 1972, making sure that guests felt at home, body and soul.

Returning then to the abbey, Brother Robert was entrusted with managing the guest kitchen from January 1973 until September 1994. There his entire person had a chance to develop:  Countless guests were impressed by the guest master who was competent and always ready to serve.  He not only served the food with his natural charm, but he was also a very good conversation partner when it came to all matters of life and faith.  This “maternal” man provided an essential face to our abbey.  Within the monastery, Brother Robert advocated his clear opinion and point of view. After his time as guestmaster, callers and visitors met him at the reception area of the administration building. He performed this service with his unique persistence until he was over 80 years old.  During his later years, he resided in the assisted living section of the infirmary, in such a way that he could participate in the daily life of the community. With him, we lose a warmhearted confrere.  We know him to be well received by Christ, whom he was accustomed to meet in our guests.

May the Lord reward his faithful service to our community with eternal peace.  The Farewell and Vigil were held on Saturday 9 February 2019 following supper.  The Funeral Mass was celebrated on Thursday 14 February 2019 at 2 p.m., in the abbey church of Münsterschwarzach, followed by burial in the monastery cemetery.

Abbot Michael and the monastic community of Münsterschwarzach