Photo courtesy of Abtei Münsterschwarzach

A surprise to all of us was the death of our dear confrere

Brother Manuel (Helmut) Witt OSB

on Monday, 26 September 2022, the feast of Saints Cosmas and Damian, four days after his 75th birthday.

Helmut was born on 22 September 1947 in Neustadt an der Waldnaab. He was the second child of his parents Johann Witt and Katharina, née Wagmann. His older brother Johann, our Br. Joachim Witt, died in January 1917 and his younger sister Hildegard grew up in a very Christian home. Helmut, his baptismal name, attended the primary school in his hometown from 1953 to 1961. His father was a shoemaker and so it was clear that his two sons learn the shoemaker’s trade. For this purpose, they came to Münsterschwarzach Abbey, to the legendary master shoemaker Br. Sales. Like his brother Joachim, Helmut also learned this trade from 1961 to 1964. In his final report all grades are marked “very good.” He entered the monastery on 30 August 1964 and upon admittance into the novitiate on 23 September 1965, received as his monastic name St. Manuel. Hardly had he entered the monastery, then he trained for a second profession from 1964 to 1967, namely that of an assistant business manager. He professed his temporary vows on 29 April 1967. Through his solemn profession on 29 October 1972, he joined the monastic community for life.

At that time, it was customary to serve in the monastery fire department from the time of temporary profession. Thus for over 25 years he was a faithful fireman. A special service that Br. Manuel performed with a passion was that of guest brother. From 1967 into his seventies, for 50 years, he conscientiously and reliably served the many guests, who are never lacking in the monastery, in his friendly and always helpful way in the dining room and in the guest kitchen. Through this service his circle of acquaintances and friends grew, and he came to know many mission benefactors and maintained a lively contact with them beyond the guesthouse.

After his exam as an assistant business manager, he worked in various posts in the monastery administration. At first in the payroll department. At the time the wages had to be calculated by hand without a computer program. During this time Br. Manuel was a reliable collaborator of Br. Cornelius and was responsible for the various insurances of the abbey. At the same time he also had to manage the cash.

As our pressman from 1984 to shortly before his death, he wrote articles about monastery events for the newspaper and made the abbey tangible to those outside. The abbey newsletters that he regularly wrote allowed many monasteries and communities to share in the life of the abbey.

In 1984 he transferred to the mission procura and helped his own brother, our Br. Joachim, with all the necessary work: booking flights for the missionaries, looking after benefactors, the needs of confreres from mission abbeys, etc. His sister Hildegard is serving our mission and has been working as a mission helper since 1983 in the hospital at Litembo, Tanzania.

In everything that Br. Manuel was commissioned to do, he could be relied upon. His reliability, his unpretentiousness, his knowledge and concern for his abbey will be missed. A life rich in work and prayer has come to an end.

We thank our Br. Manuel for all the many years he lived among us and for his likeable and friendly nature. May the Lord reward his faithful service to our community with eternal joy.

Münsterschwarzach, 29 September 2022

Abbot Michael and the Community of Münsterschwarzach