On 14 August 2021, at 1:20 p.m., our dear confrere
Father Gregor (Theodor) Hucke OSB
died in a hospital in Nairobi. He endured Covid-19 until Prioress Sr. Rosa Pascal and her fellow sisters could accompany him as he was dying.
Our confrere came into this world in Dingolstädt, Thuringia on 10 November 1935. His father, a master baker, and his mother, a housewife, had seven children. After primary school in his home place, Theo went on to attend the pro-gymnasium at St. Ludwig. This was still possible in 1947 as his mother’s relatives lived in Grettstadt, near the abbey. After graduating from the Riemenschneider Gymnasium in Würzburg Theo entered our abbey. When he was admitted to the novitiate on 13 September 1956, he received the learned Pope Gregory the Great as his patron in monastic life. After temporary profession on 17 September 1957, there first followed philosophy studies at St. Ottilien. This was expanded at Sant’Anselmo, Rome from 1958 to 1967 and completed with a doctorate.
From 1967 to 1976 Fr. Gregor directed our St. Egbert late vocation seminary in Bamberg. In addition, he was involved in pastoral ministry and teaching religion in the municipal gymnasium. This was followed by seven years of collaboration on the scholarly work of our confrere Fr. Cassius Hallinger on monastic customaries. Fr, Gregor was an enthusiastic singer and musician. His voice predestined him for being a cantor, and besides that was the task of secretary for the abbot and chapter.
A completely new country opened up for Fr. Gregor in 1989. He went to Nairobi for one year, which was later extended. He served the Missionary Benedictine Sisters in Karen, Nairobi as their resident chaplain and a teacher in the formation program for 30 years, interrupted only for two years when he assisted at the Egbert Gymnasium at Münsterschwarzach and at St. Benedikt in Würzburg.
These are the statistical facts of his life. But there is still a more hidden world. Among the monastery musicians he plucked the double bass. Tones that suited him. Equally special is the figure with which his doctoral work was concerned. Fr. Gregor was related to and measured up to the thinker and poet Jean Paul (1763–1825). Like the latter, he wrote wrote hundreds of handwritten, calligraphic volumes in silence. He collaged books from art, florilegia and his own texts, Bibles and several Psalters. This mysterious world deserves to be decoded by someone and brought into the light. That he constantly appropriated new languages and thus came to understand the world from many different sides was part of him. Likewise, the alternating of cutting down trees and his cryptic study.
For now, however, we must leave our confrere with his rich inner world unknown to us in many ways. That God has allowed him to use the “hermit’s house” of Karen Blixen, the author of Out of Africa, as his own hermitage for so many years has been a loving gift of his grace.
We thank the sisters of Karen, Nairobi for their care. We give our confrere to God, into his loving hands, into the home of the word of all words: “Here am I.”
We will celebrate the Eucharist here in Münsterschwarzach on Thursday, 19 August 2021, at 5:30 p.m. On the same day, Fr. Gregor will be buried at Prince of Peace Abbey in Tigoni, Kenya.
Münsterschwarzach, 17 August 2021
Abbot Michael Reepen OSB and the Community of Münsterschwarzach Abbey
Abbot John Baptist Oese OSB and the Community of Tigoni Abbey, Kenya
Prioress Sr. Rosa Pascal OSB and the Community of Missionary Benedictine Sisters of Karen, Nairobi, Kenya