Fr. Aurelian (Georg Josef) Feser OSB

Benedictine Missionary of Saint Ottilien 4 June 1945 – 7 December 2019

On 7 December, Father Aurelian Feser died unexpectedly quickly in the therapy center in Burgau at the age of 74. He suffered from hereditary end-stage liver cirrhosis, so his final months were not easy.

Georg Josef was born on 4 June 1945, shortly after the end of the war in the Rhenish wine-growing community of Ockenheim (Diocese of Mainz). His parents were the winegrower Jakob Feser and Margarete Feser, née Brussels, to which two other children were given. In his hometown he had attended elementary school since 1952 and then the church high school and boarding school Theresianum in Mainz. The believing parental home and the embedding in church youth work probably suggested this early focus on the priestly profession. From Mainz he switched to the Benedictine Missionary of St. Ottilien, in 1966 to finally graduate from high school in the Marianum in Buxheim. Immediately afterwards (23 September 1966), he entered the novitiate of the Archabbey of St. Ottilien.

After taking his temporary vows (25 September 1967), Brother Aurelian began studying philosophy at the Benedictine Missionary College in St. Ottilien, moved to the University of Salzburg after it was closed, and completed his studies in Munich. In his own words, studying in Salzburg was particularly important to him in order to get to know the breadth of his own order at the Benedictine college there. The solemn profession took place on 6 January 1971. It was particularly important to him to receive the diaconate consecration in April 1971 with his former classmates in the Diocese of Mainz. The ordination, however, took place after graduation in the monastery church of St. Ottilien on 30 July 1972. It speaks for his strength of character that in the “wild years” of that time he did not say goodbye to religious life and the priestly path like many others.

After an initial period as chaplain in a Salzburg parish, he worked in his homeland on the Jakobsberg priory from 1973, where he was able to push ahead with the reorientation of the house together with Prior Anselm Zeller. Until 1981 he worked as a pastor in the diocese of Mainz. In the years that followed, he was involved in setting up a youth and adult education center on Jakobsberg. The “spirit of optimism” of these years and forms of commitment to peace and reconciliation corresponded deeply with the youth minister’s own attitude.

Father Aurelian had always shown interest in missionary matters and had been accompanying the Friends of Las Torres (support for social projects in Venezuela) since 1974. So his appointment as Missionary and Congregation Procurator in 1995 was in line with his personal interests, even if his open nature made it clear that he was unsure about his suitability, especially with regard to his language skills. As a procurator, he undertook countless trips around the world, stimulated and accompanied initiatives and projects, and was a member of numerous committees. Focal points were, among other things, the establishment of a fair trade, the craft school of Tororo Monastery (Uganda), the construction of a “Hemina” beverage filling system for the Ndanda Abbey (Tanzania), or the development of the Katibunga Mission Monastery (Zambia).

After his term of office ended, he took over the office of Prior of Jakobsberg in 2003. During this time, among other things, he oversaw the renovation of the monastery church to the 14 helpers and the renovation of St. Christoph’s house, in which the “Sister Community of the Eucharistic King” found its home, but also helped in the establishment of a memorial meadow for deceased children. In 2011 he finally returned to the mother house in St. Ottilien, where he initially took care of the guests and began to take care of the parish in 2014. He worked hard in the team of the parish community of Igling and found a lot of trust and encouragement thanks to his human friendliness.

Father Aurelian was a thoroughbred pastor, empathetic and imaginative, spontaneous and inclined to experiment, looking for a conversation and struggling for solutions that were acceptable to everyone; he approached people quickly and was genuinely interested in them. Therefore, he also had a large circle of friends who remained close to him for life, whereby he was particularly concerned with connections to home and family.

His hereditary illness broke out in the middle of a fruitful and joyful pastoral work in the parish community of Igling. In the last months of his life, many companions and friends visited him and said goodbye. The busy confrere may now rest in peace!

Requiem with funeral on Saturday, 14 December at 10.30 a.m., in the Abbey Church of Sankt Ottilien.

– Archabbey Wolfgang Öxler and convent of the Archabbey Sankt Ottilien