Photo : Schwarzach am Main, Kirche von Münsterschwarzach, cropped | By Tilman2007 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Our beloved confrere,

Brother Wilhelm (Hermann) Fries OSB

died on Thursday, 19 May, at four thirty in the afternoon.

A month before, on 18 April, his 80th birthday, we celebrated his life and work with him at a festive dinner with an appropriate tribute and house music. Br. Wilhelm already showed severe signs of his illness.

Since April 2020 he has been living in our infirmary. However, everything he could still do himself, the patient took into his own hands. Until recently, he kept up his retirement post assisting in the library, which he had done since 2013. Generally, Br. Wilhelm always dealt with his serious illness bravely and with an open mind. In a quiet and undramatic way he walked the path of suffering. In this he was a powerful sign for us. Br. Wilhelm was always a man of such character, but age and illness made it more visible to us.

If we look back at his way of life and its stages, we see a calm consistency in everything, which only a few life stories feature. Br. Wilhelm worked in the procura of Münsterschwarzach for fifty-two years. He played a major role in maintaining the excellence of this institution. The accuracy and conscientiousness, the diligent writing of thank you letters, the donations and the personal care of benefactors were a significant part of his contribution. The trained office manager passed through all the steps from the carbon copy letter to the current computer technology.

Our confrere was known as a railroad timetable book in the flesh. What you call up on the computer screen today, Br. Wilhelm could tell you directly from memory.

This talent also made him a pleasant and interested travelling companion. Culture, history, art, these he went looking for and visited. This resulted in the work of his senior years in the abbey library from 2013 until shortly before his death. Br. Wilhelm was also a staunch and zealous firefighter who received the Badge of Honor on his silver anniversary of service.

If we go now and tabulate his life, it all breathes this quiet, unobtrusive order and correctness.

Born in Ochsenfurt on 18 April 1942, his father Markus was an industrial worker. His mother Maria brought four children into the world and looked after the home. She died when Hermann was enrolled in school. From 1948 to 1956 he attended the Hohestadt primary school. In November 1956, he came to our apprentices’ school and was trained in industrial management, taking the journeyman’s exam in January 1961. After being employed briefly in the accounting department, he changed to the procura. That was where he worked until 2013.

His monastic journey is likewise straightforward: postulancy on 6 September 1959, novitiate on 4 May 1961, temporary vows on 5 May 1962, and final vows on 10 September 1967, the anniversary of the dedication of our church that year. Like the stability that radiates from our monastery, Br. Wilhelm too was firmly in his place. His inner journey was guided by the book of monastic daily life, by life in the community.

On Monday, 23 May, at 10:30 a.m. we will celebrate the liturgy of thanksgiving for his life, entrust him to God and then bury him in the monastery cemetery.

Münsterschwarzach, 23 May 2022
Abbot Michael and the community of Münsterschwarzach