Br. Gereon (Adalbert Georg) Pfister OSB has always been known as one who could sleep anywhere and anytime. But as for “the sleeping brother,” that death would call him while resting on a garden chair in the middle of his rounds through the monastery property came as a surprise. That was Saturday afternoon, 6 April 2019. But it fit his own distinct lifestyle, which he gradually discovered as he lived the monastic way of life.
Adalbert Georg Pfister was born in Kitzingen on 22 May 1934. His father Andreas and his mother Maria were teachers. Adalbert attended primary school from 1941 to 1949. He then learned the watchmaker’s trade, which he practiced as a journeyman. In the last year that he practiced, he worked as a meter inspector at Überlandwerk Lohr.
The family, which now counted six children, must have been a lively household. In 1957, his father Andreas wrote the novel Wildvogel (Wild Bird) about what he felt and experienced. The same year, contact with Münsterschwarzach came about through Father Willigis Jäger, which then led to entrance into the community.
Adalbert Pfister became a postulant on 5 May 1957. Admittance into the novitiate on 8 May 1958 gave him the name Brother Gereon. On 12 May 1959, he made his temporary profession and on 11 June 1962 his solemn profession.
Until that time, Brother Gereon had been a coworker in the procurator’s office helping to look after the house, then serving in the guest area, at the chicken farm, in the goldsmith shop, and in the infirmary. It was then when Brother Gereon had arrived where he could make the greatest impact through his contributions. His decent, amiable, and humorous approach to people in the infirmary made him a great blessing for our house. In 1979–80 he deepened his professional skills to become a qualified geriatric nurse. For 37 years, Brother Gereon served as a nurse in our infirmary.
Besides all this professional involvement, the “wild bird” also had his trips. In 2017, he presented his immense wisdom to the community in a little booklet called Spiritual Poetry. In it, he said, “Anyone who tries to annoy me is proving his laboriously acquired skill to entertain me in a childish way.” The goldsmith left a note on Brother Gereon’s work bench: “Order is half of life.” Gereon added: “Disorder is the whole of it.” That was his watchmaker’s workshop, but what came out ticked again according to a fixed order of time. This service will be missing in the future. In daily life together, he could take care of himself: “I do not need anyone to make fun of me when it happens to be that I already have laughed at myself.” He spread this never-ending sense of humor around the entire house up to his last day. How much that came from a spiritual depth, however, is shown in his statement: “The more we stand in the shadow of our fellow human beings, the more God lets us see his light.” The life journey of Brother Gereon was full of experiences because he was a man of the moment. It brought him to Africa, to his own sister who was a religious in Cameroon. It let him visit Tanzania with Brother Eberhard. It frequently brightened up community life with drums, guitar, songs and poems. Brother Gereon remained perpetually young through his collaboration with the Scouts, to whom he was wholeheartedly devoted. He also was an example to us all of a quiet fidelity in sticking it out in everyday life.
Brother Gereon once said: “To become a saint is something ordinary, for God has chosen the simple in the world to be his instrument.”
We gave back to God this lovable human being, with gratitude in the Eucharist, on Thursday 11 April 2019 at 2:00 p.m., with subsequent burial in our monastery cemetery.
Abbot Michael and the community of Münsterschwarzach