Brother Richard (Michael) Ettl OSB
Missionary Benedictine of Sankt Ottilien
21 December 1937 – 29 March 2023
Unexpectedly, but peacefully, Brother Richard Ettl passed into eternity in the early morning of 29 March. He was 85 years old and in the 67th year of his monastic profession. Until the last days of his life he took an interest in his surroundings in a modest fashion.
Brother Richard came into the world on 21 December 1937 in Stadlham, Upper Bavaria in the municipality of Hilgertshausen, Dachau District, Archdiocese of Munich. He was the second child of Michael Ettl and Maria, née Schmid and was baptized with the name of his father, Michael. His pious parents brought seven other children into the world of whom three found their way into religious life, namely a younger brother in St. Ottilien and a sister with the Sisters of Charity. Everyday life on the farm was governed by hard work. The young lad was a zealous altar server and applied for admission to the Augsburg seminary in 1949 but without success. From 1943 to 1951 Michael attended the Hilgertshausen primary school followed by the vocational school at St. Ottilien until 1955. He passed the journeyman’s examination as a butcher in June 1955 in Landsberg am Lech and the master’s exam on 5 July 1966 in Augsburg.
Upon completing the journeyman’s exam, he began the novitiate in St. Ottilien Archabbey in September 1955. Temporary profession followed on 17 September 1956 and final profession on 4 October 1959.
Brother Richard spent almost his entire monastic life working in the archabbey butchery, where he trained numerous apprentices together with his comrade-in-arms Brother Benno Wolff († 2011).In addition, he also repeatedly served in the kitchen for shorter or longer periods. He spent only two years away from home when from 1963 to 1965 he served as a cook at the monastery farm at Wessobrunn.
The strenuous work in the butchery left Brother Richard little external freedom. His tendency toward a certain reclusiveness and inwardness was possibly reinforced by a congenital sight impairment so that he was never seen without his thick glasses. In his interaction with others, he was friendly, patient and gracious, although much of his work was under severe time pressure.
The death of his younger brother of cancer, to which our Brother Markus succumbed on 15 November 2001, hit him hard. For two years, the former subprior and agricultural machinery technician had fought cancer with his considerable vitality and love of life until he was finally able to accept it as God’s will. According to Brother Richard’s own statement, struggling over his brother affected him deeply. What was important to him was consistently following the Benedictine monastic life, as he wrote: “I stand fully by my vocation and strive to speak and live accordingly.”
About 13 years ago, severe dizzy spells increased so that after a serious fall he was confined to a wheelchair and moved to the abbey infirmary. Other than this limitation, he was blessed with a good constitution and was healthy throughout his life. In the infirmary, he proved to be a friendly and undemanding patient who withdrew more and more into silence.
Archabbot Wolfgang Öxler and the community of Sankt Ottilien Archabbey