Father Raymund (Bernhard) Wiedemann OSB

Missionary Benedictine of Sankt Ottilien
29 July 1933 – 13 December 2020

On Sunday, 13 December, the 1300th anniversary of the death of Saint Odilia, Father Raymund Wiedemann died peacefully in the monastery infirmary in the 67th year of his monastic profession. Archabbot Wolfgang had administered the sacraments of the dying a few days before. We remembered him in prayer at the festive liturgy for the patroness of the Missionary Benedictines that took place the same day.

Fr. Raymund came into the world on 29 July 1933 in Rain am Lech as the third child of his parents who gave life to six children. His father Mathias and his mother Walburga, née Eisner, ran a farm and prepared their children for life in a protected environment shaped by the Catholic faith. Four of the children were to choose a religious vocation; a brother and nephew of Father Raymund also work in St. Ottilien. After primary school in Rain (1939–45), young Bernhard heard on the radio of the imminent re-opening of the mission seminary at St. Ottilien and persuaded his parents to send him to the boarding school there in August 1945. He graduated from there in 1953 (the evaluations describe him as cheerful and bright) and then began the novitiate when he was given the name of the Dominican Master of the Order and missionary Raymund of Peñafort. After profession on 16 September 1954, he completed in the customary manner the philosophy studies in the college at St. Ottilien; theology studies followed at the University of Munich from 1956 to 1960. Bishop Joseph Freundorfer of Augsburg ordained him a priest on 13 September 1959. Subsequently, a degree in agriculture was planned at first that would have qualified him for the management of the large farm. However, the teaching faction prevailed and Father Raymund studied mathematics and physics in Munich for another seven years to become a teacher. He did his teacher training at the Maria Theresia Gymnasium in Munich.

After finishing his training, he taught his subjects in the Rhabanus Maurus Gymnasium of St. Ottilien; with great continuity, this was to last for over thirty years (1968–1999). As a teacher, he was friendly and approachable by his students; he could also be strict but fair. That not all students were interested in mathematics did not seem right to him, of course. Due to his reliability and commitment he also served as deputy school director and was on the school advisory board of the Diocese of Augsburg. Besides his service in the school, he was on the seniorate for many years and served as subprior; this indicates the trust the confreres had in him. In addition, he had a passion for amateur radio. For this he established a broadcasting station in the former St. Paulus Procura and built up a network of amateur radio operators in the missions and in Germany. In the time before the Internet, this exchange of news was extremely helpful for the quick communication of information especially when it involved contact with the mission stations. Together with Brother Burkhard Bäuml he looked after the large postage stamp collection of the archabbey from 1975 and each month invited the St. Gabriel Stamp Guild to his domicile in St. Paulus. The stamps that he collected, and it probably came to tons of them, were sold by the kilo for the benefit of the missions. He also helped out in the surrounding parishes and was especially connected to the School Sisters in Adelshofen for decades as a spiritual advisor.

Father Raymund maintained good relations with the large Wiedemann family, blessed marriages and engaged in genealogical research. He also remained connected with his home town. This was demonstrated, for example, at his 50th anniversary of ordination in 2009 when in a beautiful way he was honored by his home parish of St. Johannes Baptist and the town of Rain. In his dealings with others, he was open and friendly, uncomplicated and humorous, balanced and peace-loving. He was blessed with many interests and a wide horizon and liked to take part in the lectures and events happening at the abbey.

When he retired he initially helped in the large monastery library and then changed to the monastery administration where he worked for many years in the accounting department in his usual reliable way. The last years of his life were quite difficult for him. What hit him hard personally was the exposure of abuse cases in the arena of church education which he saw as unjustly also covering up the existing merits. In the last few years walking was more and more difficult for him; he slowly became dependent on nursing care and in the end withdrew into silence. May this confrere, distinguished for his many services, now rest in peace!

The Funeral Mass with burial is on Wednesday, 16 December, at 10:30 a.m. in the abbey church of Sankt Ottilien.

Archabbot Wolfgang Öxler and the Community of Sankt Ottilien Archabbey