Brother Anton (Bernhard) Streitel OSB, Missionary Benedictine, died peacefully on 22 October 2019 in the infirmary of Sankt Ottilien Archabbey, surrounded by his confreres. Two weeks earlier, the 88 year-old brother had to give up his regular daily routine because of increasing weakness and withdraw completely to the infirmary of the monastery. At the time of his passing, he was in his 89th year of life and 57th year of monastic profession.
Brother Anton came into the world on 4 January 1931 in Daxberg, Lower Allgäu, as the son of the farmer Xaver and Viktoria Streitel, née Schöpf. His parents already had had a boy born two years before. After attending primary school (1937–45) and vocational school (1945–48) in Daxberg, he worked on his parents’ farm, which his older brother later took over. He completed the agricultural school in Memmingen in the winter months of 1951-52 and 1952-53 and each time performed exceptionally well. His graduation certificate characterizes him as “deliberate, reliable and careful.”
In his home parish, Brother Anton was known as a zealous churchgoer but decided, based on the situation at the time, only to enter the monastery at a later age. In May 1961, when he was 30 years old, he began the postulancy at Sankt Ottilien Archabbey, only 60 km away. In his application for admission, he justified his decision by saying that in the monastery he would like to lead a “life of atonement pleasing to God.” Therefore, he was surprised to read in the conditions for acceptance into the monastery that you entered in order to become “happy”, because such was not his intention. In the novitiate, he was given the name of the popular Saint Anthony of Padua, whose simple piety also characterized Brother Anton. He made his temporary profession on 13 May 1963 and his perpetual profession on 29 June 1966.
At the beginning of his time at St. Ottilien, Brother Anton worked in the agricultural field in which he had been trained, and was initially responsible for raising pigs. Since a confrere was to be appointed to the newly opened Bingen monastery of Jakobsberg, he began to work there on the “Holy Mountain” in the winter, right after his temporary profession. After final profession in 1966, he was sent to the Palatine foundation on a permanent basis. Although Brother Anton never lost his native Swabian way of speaking, his new homeland suited him very well. In a newspaper interview on the occasion of his 50th year at Jakobsberg, he stated that “from the beginning the area and the friendliness of the Ockenheimer” appealed to him.
In its early years, the monastery still had a large agricultural operation for self-support. Here Brother Anton had a wide field of work with cows and pigs, meadows and fields. In 1978, the farm was largely given up in favor of a spirituality center. Although it was hard for Brother Anton to relinquish the animals, he desired to remain at Jakobsberg, and so he took over caring for the garden.
A first hip operation, followed by others over the years, limited his mobility and led to his stooped posture. When the position of receptionist at the monastery was open in 1988, the choice fell on him. This was probably not easy for him since he was by nature somewhat reserved. He performed this task responsibly with his usual reliability until further operations and increasing deafness forced him to withdraw more and more. Finally, when serving as receptionist was no longer feasible, he concentrated on waste separation and disposal in the house and general cleaning.
Brother Anton was engaged to a great extent in his activities and in his prayer life and performed all his tasks reliably like clockwork. Among his few hobbies was the feeding of the fish, where he had a special place in his heart for the very old koi “Gerda,” and in sports, an admiration for the tennis wonder Steffi Graf. Although his external life varied little, he was in his humble way satisfied with everything.
His increasing decline in physical strength made the move to the motherhouse of Sankt Ottilien in December 2016 necessary. His farewell was celebrated honorably and even acknowledged in the press, where Brother Anton stated that you could live a “fulfilling monastic life” at Jakobsberg. As at Jakobsberg, Brother Anton also proved to be an exemplary man of prayer at the archabbey. He always could be found in the same place with a view of the tabernacle for long periods of time before and after the common prayer times. Although walking became increasingly difficult for him, he did not give up going by himself around the monastery, even given its numerous steps. He was rather sparing with words by nature, though with a sense of humor, yet a severe deafness in recent years restricted an active community life. Nevertheless, Brother Anton took part in little ways in community events as well as in its prayer life. Despite initially different intentions, he was no doubt happy in his own way by the conclusion of his days at Sankt Ottilien. May he live in peace, and in the everlasting joy of our heavenly Father!
The Funeral Mass with burial was held on Saturday, 26 October 2019 at 10:30 a.m., in the archabbey church of Sankt Ottilien, followed by burial in the monastery’s cemetery.
Archabbot Wolfgang Öxler and community of Sankt Ottilien Archabbey
Father Rhabanus Maurus Petri and community of the priory of Jakobsberg