Photo courtesy of Königsmünster Abbey

On Sunday, 13 August 2023, the senior of our community

Brother Andreas (Walter) Hentschel OSB

gave his life back into the hands of God.

Walter Hentschel was born on 28 February 1930 in Silesian Polnitz in the then Diocese of Breslau. After finishing primary school he began an apprenticeship as a tailor in his father’s workshop. However, this was soon interrupted by the turmoil at the end of the Second World War. After being expelled from his homeland, Walter Hentschel finally completed his apprenticeship in Bernau near Berlin. He then moved to Bielefeld, where he acquired a master’s certificate in tailoring in the workshops of the Bethel Foundation. During these turbulent youthful years, his rootedness in the Catholic faith of his parents and his active connection with the parishes of his respective places of residence were the supporting basis of his life. In Bethel, the religious world of the Protestant church also opened up to him.

With this a clear inner consistency developed so that he looked at the possibility of religious life and finally decided to enter the then Benedictine Priory of Königsmünster in Meschede. On 1 February 1957 he was admitted to the novitiate as Brother Andreas, on 5 February 1958 he made his temporary profession and bound himself for life to our community on 5 February 1961.

The gifted and ready-to-serve young brother was soon entrusted with two responsible tasks. He took over the service of porter and the tailor shop. Thanks to the confident and friendly charisma of Brother Andreas, the monastery reception area, furnished as a tailor’s workshop, became an important meeting place for the community as well as for the numerous visitors of the abbey with their various concerns.

Brother Andreas made countless habits, cucullas and vestments of the highest quality craftsmanship. After he was able to handover his duties as porter in 1990, he gladly accepted invitations from other religious communities for tailoring assignments lasting several weeks. The furthest of these trips brought him to the new foundation of our Congregation in Kumily, South India that was being established at the time. In addition to his full-time duties, Br. Andreas also looked after the monastery’s apiary, sang in the schola, and was a member of the seniorate for many terms.

In addition, his numerous contacts outside the community brought him repeated requests for collaboration in the parishes of the city, to which he gladly responded. He was one of the initiators of the Ecumenical Bible Weeks. These were an annual highlight in the life of both the Catholic and Protestant communities of Meschede in the 1970s and 1980s.

An engagement of a completely different kind was the regular organization of the exhibitions of the Griffelkunst Association that attracted a considerable number of art enthusiasts to the monastery mount several times a year. In general, the wide-ranging and profoundly cultivated interest in all areas of cultural life was an essential feature of the personality of Br. Andreas. What is impressive are his meticulously kept annual reading lists that until old age included 50 to 80 books read annually in classical literature, fiction, art history, philosophy and theology. He used much of the free time available to him for attending theater performances, concerts and art exhibitions. He translated the variety of impressions he had gained into writing and publishing lyrical texts that were impressive in terms of thought and language. Meditative sermons and lectures by Brother Andreas enriched the spiritual life of our community time and again.

The briefly sketched diversity of interests of Brother Andreas came from an inner core that was irrefutably clear to him. He was a monk out of deepest conviction and therefore saw it as his life’s task to “seek God in everything.” Therefore, with admirable strength of will, he participated in the common Liturgy of the Hours until a few weeks before his death, observing very carefully his personal times of meditation and prayer.

It was difficult for a person gifted with such great vital energy as Brother Andreas to accept the decline in strength that was clearly noticeable in his last years and to be dependent on help. A few weeks ago, pneumonia first necessitated a hospital stay and then admission to short-term care at a nursing home, where Brother Andreas died peacefully on 13 August 2023.

With great gratitude, we firmly trust that Brother Andreas is now safe in the love of God— as he himself expressed it in one of his poems.
Meschede, 13 August 2023

Prior Cosmas Hoffmann OSB and the monks of Königsmünster Abbey

We will hold the solemn Vigil of the Dead on 16 August 2023 at 8 p.m.
On Thursday, 17 August 2023, at 11 a.m., we will celebrate the funeral Mass and then bury him in the monastery cemetery.

I want to see what is seen,
when the patchwork of faith breaks.

I want to see what is seen,
when hope comes to fulfillment.

I want to see what is seen,
when love appears totally real.

Then there is no error,
no doubt!
Then is eternity.

 — Br. Andreas Hentschel OSB