Photo courtesy of Erzabtei Sankt Ottilien

Brother Bonaventure Schuster was born on 23 January 1937 in the small village of Nassenbeuren in the Diocese of Augsburg, Germany together with his twin sister Maria as one of nine siblings. He entered St. Ottilien Archabbey in 1954 and professed his first vows there on 11 June 1956. Brother then worked for three years as an assistant cook in the monastery kitchen before he was chosen to be a new missionary in 1958. Later it became clear that he was not entirely happy about this new mission, because he had to leave his hometown. The fact that he was unable to complete his training as a tailor and cook was also a factor that made it difficult for him to leave at that time. But Br. Bonaventura decided to rise above all these conflicts and say “yes” to the Lord’s call to become a missionary. On 4 October 1959 he professed his perpetual vows and was sent as a missionary to Korea. On 11 October, he and 500 other missionaries from all over the world were presented with the mission cross by Pope John XXIII in Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

In the early hours of 31 January 1960, Brother Bonaventura together with Abbot Odo Haas (who later became the first abbot of the monastery of Waegwan) and Brother Rochus Schiebel left his home in Germany and boarded a cargo ship to travel to Korea. After a one-month journey, they arrived in Waegwan on 7 March where Prior Timotheo Bitterli and the members of the community cordially received them. His first responsibility was the tailor’s shop, which he set up himself and where he worked until 1967, making the monks’ clothes. Under these circumstances, however, he did not have the opportunity to learn Korean well, which burdened him. However, with his zeal he came to terms with this problem in the course of time.

From 1968, Brother Bonaventura was responsible for the bookkeeping of the Waegwan Vicariate and acted as master of ceremonies for the monastery liturgy. Due to the urgent requests of his home monastery of St. Ottilien, he returned there on 3 June 1984 to assist in the mission procura. It was difficult for him to cope with this. However, he was able to return to Waegwan Abbey on 14 March 1990, for which he was very grateful. Back in Waegwan, he was responsible for looking after the benefactors who supported the many tasks of Waegwan Abbey from abroad. He succeeded in writing appealing letters to benefactors and thanking them for their support for the mission. He had a special charism for this work. In addition, Br. Bonaventura served as a sacristan for 30 years and for almost 20 years as master of ceremonies at the abbey liturgies.

For many years Br. Bonaventure suffered from Parkinson’s Disease. It was a heavy cross. In his homily at the funeral Mass, our Father Thomas Timpte said that Br. Bonaventura bore his suffering from Parkinson’s disease as a share in the Passion of Jesus and that he eagerly awaited heaven, the goal of our pilgrimage on earth.

Although Br. Bonaventura suffered greatly from Parkinson’s disease, for the younger confreres in the community he was someone who radiated and conveyed joy. He had a positive attitude to life, never lost his cool in difficult situations and enjoyed taking part in joyful celebrations.

The last five years of his life were years of suffering for Br. Bonaventura. He spent them seriously ill in hospital. But even during this time he struggled to fight the disease. In a wheelchair on 7 November 2021, he made a farewell visit to the abbey. He seemed to be in a good mood as he said goodbye. On 5 November this year he developed symptoms of pneumonia with a high fever and water in the lungs. On Saturday, 11 November, around 3:30 in the morning, Br. Bonaventura entered his eternal home at Cheonju Sungsam Hospital in Daegu due to acute kidney failure.

The funeral mass was celebrated by Abbot Blasio on Monday, 13 November 2023, at 2:00 p.m., in the abbey church. This was followed by burial in the monastery cemetery on the outskirts of Waegwan. Many religious and faithful participated in the Mass and prayed for Br. Bonaventura. The funeral was broadcast live here in Korea but also for Br. Bonaventura’s confreres in the Archabbey of St. Ottilien, his twin sister Maria and the members of his family.

21 November 2023

Waegwan Abbey,
South Korea

Abbot Blasio Park Hyun Dong OSB