Abbot emeritus Daniel Martin Schönbächler died in our monastery during the first vespers of the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary on Monday, August 14. The professed and priestly jubilarian, who had led the monastery until 2012, was 81 years old. The funeral will take place on Thursday at 2 pm.
Martin Schönbächler was born in Winterthur on March 31, 1942, the second of four children of the married couple Martin and Emma Mathilde Schönbächler-Neth. There he attended elementary school and for one year secondary school. In the fall of 1955 Martin came to Disentis to the monastery school, which he completed in 1962 with the Matura type A.
After the first year of theological studies in the seminary in Chur, he returned to Disentis and entered the novitiate. On October 3, 1964, he made simple profession as Frater Daniel into the hands of Abbot Viktor Schönbächler, his uncle. After completing his licentiate in theology at Sant’Anselmo, Frater Daniel was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Johannes Vonderach on October 12, 1968. He completed his secondary studies in German and art history at the Universities of Zurich and Munich with a secondary school teacher’s diploma and a doctorate on Josef Vital Kopp.
Since 1973 Father Daniel Schönbächler taught at the monastery school Disentis. The tasks increased and were very diverse, director of the school theater, librarian, monastery photographer, editor of the magazine DISENTIS, novice master, dean, chapter secretary. Father Daniel was also active in various bodies outside the monastery. He taught art history and rhetoric at the Theological College of Chur, was a member of the board of the Swiss St. Luke Society for Art and Church, a member of the board of the Graubünden Art Collection Foundation, a member of the Federal Commission for the Swiss National Museum and a member of the Cantonal Cultural Promotion Commission of Graubünden, honorary member of the Piz Terri section of the SAC.
On December 18, 2000, the convent elected Father Daniel as the 65th abbot of Disentis Monastery, and on the feast of St. Scholastica, February 10, 2001, Abbot Daniel received the Benediction from the diocesan bishop of Chur, Amédée Grab. The new abbot chose “unitas in diversitate” (unity in diversity) as the motto for his ministry. On March 21, 2002, the new abbot was granted honorary citizenship of the community of Disentis. During his term of office, important projects were advanced. For example, the Pro Kloster Disentis Foundation was established to secure financial resources for various building projects. With the formation of the School Council and the Economic Council, the monastery received competent advice from experts in the relevant fields. In addition to leading the monastic community, Abbot Daniel was active in adult education, conducted seminars on personal development and made many individual accompaniments.
At the age of 70, Abbot Daniel resigned from his office. He remained in the monastery, still performing various services in the community and continuing to impart his knowledge in the seminars and in individual accompaniment. In the last months the infirmities of old age increased and an infection plagued him again and again. Even several hospital stays could not bring about any improvement. At his request, he was able to return to his monastery for his last days, where he died on the eve of the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
We thank Abbot Daniel for his prayers and work in our community and ask you to remember him in prayer.
Disentis, on the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven, August 15, 2023.
Abbot Vigeli Monn, convent and relatives