Photo : Saint Francis Xavier baptizes a pagan king, cropped | By Peter Ykens – BALat, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Jesus appeared to the eleven and said to them,
Go into all the word and proclaim the Good News to all creation.

From the gospel on the day of death

This morning on the memorial of the great missionary Francis Xavier, our beloved confrere

Father Hildebrand Peter Meienberg OSB

Missionary Benedictine of St. Otmarsberg

was released from his old age. Father Hildebrand Peter had celebrated his 92nd birthday six days ago. He was a professed monk for 71 years and a priest for 65.

Peter Meienberg saw the light of this world on 27 November 1929 in St. Gallen–St. Fiden and was baptized in the cathedral on 1 December. His parents were Alois and Maria, née Geiges. He experienced an exciting childhood and adolescence with them in the city. The ambitious Peter completed his schooling at the gymnasium in Einsiedeln. Afterwards he spent a year off in Paris.

He entered the monastery of the Benedictinum in Fribourg on 1 October 1951. Like all the others, he went through the novitiate, followed by temporary profession on 12 October 1952, and studies at the University of Fribourg. Frater Hildebrand was ordained a priest and deacon in 1956. He chose as his spiritual director Abbot Benno Gut OSB of Einsiedeln, later abbot primate and cardinal. But that was not enough. The young missionary Benedictine Hildebrand desired to study further and was allowed to study at Fordham University in New York City, USA, graduating with a MA in 1959.

After exploring the American continent, Father Hildebrand went to Africa in 1961. He remained faithful to this continent and its people, whom he loved dearly over the years, until 2019. He was given decades of exciting and innovative years, always accompanied by challenges and problems. Thus in the 1960s he wrote a civics textbook for schools in Tanzania. A decade later, he published a book of church hymns in Kiswahili that was reprinted just a few years ago. In the 1970s he moved to Kenya, where he helped with the new foundation of us Missionary Benedictines and gave the last 20 years of his life to his own foundation Faraja. In this extremely courageous project he was supported and accompanied by people dear to him so that to this day it is spreading abundant blessings. Reluctantly he came back two years ago and went forward consciously and in Christian hope towards death.

We commend our confrere to your remembrance in prayer.

Abtei St. Otmarsberg, 8730 Uznach
3 December 2021
Abbot Emmanuel Rutz with the Community and relatives