Since 1884

Congregatio Ottiliensis O.S.B.

Missionary monasticism on four continents
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The Missionary Benedictines

Die Benediktinerkongregation von St. Ottilien ist eine weltweite Ordensgemeinschaft mit 19 selbständigen Klöster und insgesamt 56 Niederlassungen. Sie gehört zur Benediktinischen Konföderation. Die knapp 1000 Mönche leben und arbeiten in Afrika, Amerika, Asien und Europa nach benediktinischer Tradition in weitgehend autarken Klostergemeinschaften. Der Lebensrhythmus dieser Klöster ist geprägt vom Stundengebet und der Arbeit zum Lebensunterhalt. Die Klöster erfüllen den missionarischen Auftrag der Kirche. Schwerpunkte des Missionsdienstes sind Seelsorge und Evangelisierung, Bildung, Krankenfürsorge und Armutsbekämpfung.



Die Missionsbenediktiner stehen in der Mönchs-Tradition der katholischen Kirche und bilden eine der 19 Kongregationen, aus denen der Benediktinerorden besteht. Die Mönche binden sich durch ihre Gelübde an eine der Abteien oder eines der selbständigen Priorate der Kongregation von St. Ottilien.

Die Leitung der Gesamtkongregation liegt in Händen des Abtpräses und einem gewählten Kongregationsrat. Der Kongregationsprokurator verwaltet die Finanzen der Kongregation und betreut die Durchführung missionarischer Projekte. Höchste Leitungsinstanz ist das Generalkapitel aus Äbten, Konventualprioren und gewählten Delegierten, das alle 4 Jahre tagt.



In den Klöstern der Kongregation wird  das Ordensleben gemäß der Regel des heiligen Benedikt gepflegt. Wichtige Eckpunkte dieses Lebens sind das Leben in Gemeinschaft, die Feier des Stundengebetes, Arbeit zum Erhalt der Kommunität und zur Erfüllung unserer missionarischen Aufgaben und das Bemühen um persönliche geistliche Reifung.

Die autonomen Klöster der Kongregation werden von einem Abt oder einem Konventualprior geleitet. Ihnen steht bei der Leitung ein gewähltes Seniorat zur Seite. Grundlegende Entscheidungen müssen vom Kapitel, der Versammlung aller stimmberechtigten Mönche einer Gemeinschaft, getroffen werden.


Wir wirken mit daran, allen Menschen das Heil zu verkünden, das in Christus angebrochen ist, und sie in der Gemeinschaft der Glaubenden, der Kirche, zu sammeln. Wir bemühen uns, diesen Auftrag vornehmlich dadurch zu erfüllen, dass wir die Frohbotschaft vom Heil vor allem zu jenen Menschen und Völkern tragen, die Christus nicht kennen, in den Ortskirchen an der Vertiefung des Glaubens mitarbeiten, vor allem in jenen, deren Eigenkräfte nicht ausreichen, ihre pastorale Aufgabe zu erfüllen, und in den Teilkirchen die missionarische Verantwortung für die Gesamtkirche wecken und fördern. Als Benediktiner wirken wir vor allem als Gemeinschaften an der missionarischen Sendung der Kirche mit. Deshalb gehört auch die Einpflanzung und Entfaltung des benediktinischen Mönchtums in den jungen Kirchen zu den wesentlichen Aufgaben unserer Kongregation.










A Foundation in Egypt

The pre-history of the recent Benedictine foundation in Egypt started when Fatherr Maximilian Musindai OSB from Tigoni Priory was sent to Kairo for a doctorate in Islamic studies. During his studies he war repeatedly approached by Catholic Egyptians who were asking why the Catholic Church in Egypt did not have any religious house of the older monastic tradition. Their quest was understandable on the background of the important role which the monasteries have for the Orthodox Christianity in Egypt. Egypt is, after all, the cradle of monasticism, and a vigorous monastic tradition going back 1700 years provides the spiritual backbone of the Orthodox Coptic church. The small Catholic community, while culturally very much aligned with their Orthodox brethren, has had to do without that source of strength.

The Benedictine Congregation of Sankt Ottilien decided to answer this request and started the necessary preparations.


Coptic Benedictines

In March 2018 the first community was officially welcomed by the Coptic-Catholic Patriarch of Alexandria under the title of St Benedict of the Copts.

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Mvimwa Diary Notes: August to October 2017

Dear confreres,

Greetings and peace from Mvimwa.

The rainy season starts now; we are busy with various agricultural activities. New grasses are germinating, the greenish colour is decorating the earth; the weather is becoming cool and comforting. In the late evening, swarms of migrating birds fly over our sky, and make their stop on trees behind our old monastery buildings. On a cool night, a beautiful sound of different insects is heard. Our dearest and permanent neighbours—the monkeys—are numerously jumping around our abbey, the safest place for them. It seems they have a sense of music. Every evening when we start singing Vespers, they come close to the church and stay calm. After our singing is finished, off they go! So funny! Formerly we were frequently visited by snakes around our settlement. But now, no snakes around! Thanks to our dear monkeys, they kill snakes. No snake survives around the monkeys. There is enough in Mvimwa to make you wonder and to make you keep smiling. Dear reader, it is in this most beautiful part of the world, we live, we pray, we work hard and learn. Such is the beauty of Mvimwa. Please come and enjoy with us!

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Elections in Tanzania

Fr Prior Sylvanus Kessy OSB

Fr Prior Sylvanus Kessy OSB

In 2006 Fr Anastasius Reiser of Münsterschwarzark embarked on a long journey in order to become abbot of Peramiho Abbey in Tanzania.  The confrères there knew him from a former mission commitment, and so once again a German became superior in an African abbey – and not only in anyone: Peramiho is the primordial monastery of our Congregation in East Africa.  A whole church province with six dioceses emerged out of this abbey, and numerous monasteries in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Zambia descend directly or indirectly from there. Abbot Anastasius gave up his office in 2017 knowing that time has come for an African superior. From June 1 to 3, 2017 the monks of the monastery gathered and elected a successor.  They have scarcely monks with leading experience in their own ranks, and so the community agreed to choose a monk from the neighboring monastery of Ndanda, Fr Sylvanus Kessy (51).  He was for many years prior under two abbots and priest of the big parish of the abbey as well: a man with experience and  discretion. He accepted the huge task in Peramiho only after some hesitation – proof for his careful prudence. Now he will lead Peramiho for three years as “Prior Administrator”. Then it will mean for the monks again to line up for election.

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56 monasteries worldwide

From its foundation in Bavaria in 1884 the Congregation has spread across four continents, creating a global network of monastic brotherhood and missionary solidarity


In 1884 Andreas Amrhein, an ex-monk of Beuron, established a ‚St Benedictus Mission Society’ at Reichenbach in North-East Bavaria. This first mission house in Germany was transferred to a hamlet called Emming in 1887. The place was later renamed ‘Sankt Ottilien’ in honour of St Odilia to whom a local shrine was dedicated. In that same year of 1887 the fledgling community was entrusted with its first mission territory in East Africa.
The first years until the departure of Amrhein in 1895 where marked by crises and setbacks in Germany and Africa. In 1896 Sankt Ottilien was formally constituted as a Benedictine Conventual Priory and the East-African missions became the Apostolic Prefecture of Daressalaam.
After further consolidation St Ottilien was raised in 1902 to an abbey and the mission to an Apostolic Vicariate with a bishop at its head. Already in 1901 another German foundation had been started which later became Münsterschwarzach Abbey. Two more German abbeys at Schweiklberg and Meschede, Uznach abbey in Switzerland and the transfer of St Georgenberg-Fiecht to the congregation added to the European base of the congregation which today consists of six abbeys (including St. Ottilien, an archabbey since 1914 and see of the congregation curia), 2 dependent priories and 2 smaller monasteries.

In 1909 the Congregation accepted a missionary call to Korea and the result was the establishment of an abbey in Seoul. This was later transferred to Tokwon (present day North Korea) and it covered a part of North Korea and North-East China. In 1922 Yenki (Yanji, Yongil) Abbey was erected with its extensive mission area. This mission success in East Asia was later destroyed by the communist regimes of China and North Korea. In the process, about 40 monks and sisters were martyred. Those monks who survived did not lose heart though. In 1952 they founded a new monastery of Waegwan (South Korea) which is at the moment the biggest Abbey in Asia.
As the consequence of the First World War, the East African Mission was badly affected and hence limited itself in the southern part of the present day Tanzania in the territorial abbeys of Ndanda and Peramiho. 7 Dioceses were born out of these major missionary centers. As the result of the war, missionaries of German origin were driven out of their stations and this resulted to the taking over of the Zulu Mission (between 1921-1924) as well as founding of new monasteries in the USA and Venezuela. The foundation in Colombia came later.
Nazi policies with its eventual Second World War in Europe as well as destroying monasteries in East-Asia had very negative effect to the Congregation. However, after the War the old mission territories started to prepare themselves to become independent under their own local bishops. At the same time Hanga Abbey – a community with more African tone – was founded in Tanzania. Hanga Abbey founded another community in Mvimwa which become an abbey later. In the following years the mission-oriented monasteries started to recruit local vocations which later led to a gradual africanization of monastic life in Africa, a process which still goes on.
The 1980s was characterized by founding other different monasteries. Communities in Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, and Togo as well as on the Philippines were founded. In 1985 new efforts were made to renew the old missionary ties in North-East China in order to work with the local church there. Thanks to many religious vocations in Korea which made several foundations within the Peninsula possible. In 2002 the Korean Benedictines took over Newton Abbey in USA which had suffered a serious lack of new vocations. Other smaller communities emerged in Spain, North Korea, Kazakhstan and Cuba.
From the very beginning of the Congregation, the missionary work has been always been supported by Sisters. Amrhein grounded a women’s branch known today as Missionary Benedictine Sisters of Tutzing. Other sisters’ communities whose existence directly or indirectly goes back to Amrhein’s foundation or the work of the Missionary Benedictines are the Benedictine Sisters of St. Agnes and Ndolo Sisters in Tanzania; the Congregation of St. Alban with houses in Germany and South Africa; the Sisters’ Congregation of the Eucharistic King on the Philippines and the Olivetine Sisters of Pusan in South Korea as well as the Oshikuku Sisters in Namibia and the Secular Institute of St. Boniface in Detmold.









Patients p.a.


Our monasteries realize their mission through institutions and projects. These are means for announcing the gospel - sometimes by word through preaching and instruction, more often by deeds, so that men and women, young and old can experience the meaning of salvation in mind and body.

Evangelization and Pastoral Work

From the beginning our mission was primary evangelization. The old mission territories entrusted to the Missionary Benedictines have given rise to 11 dioceses. In some places primary evangelization continues to be an important task, also in Europe. The monasteries look after more than 50 parishes. According to the Benedictine tradition they maintain numerous guest houses as well as centers for retreats and conferences. Six publishing houses and several workshops for arts and crafts help to express the life of the church. Many monks serve as confessors, spiritual directors and retreat givers.


Benedictines have had a mission in education since the early middle ages. Most of our monasteries maintain schools, covering kindergartens, primary and secondary schools,  vocational training centers and teacher training colleges. Scholarship programs provide access for poor children. Several monks teach at universities in Africa, Asia and Europe.

Health and Welfare

In Southern Tanzania our hospitals provide essential health care for an entire region and administer preventive programs for AIDS, Malaria and TB. Elsewhere we provide specialized health care, e.g. through Aids hospices, an eyeclinic, a psychiatric ambulance and other projects.

Missionary Benedictines maintain old age homes, orphanages, counselling centers for refugees and immigrants, day care centers for poor and neglected children.



The Missionsblätter from St. Ottilien are the oldest periodical of the Congregation, currently appearing in its 106th year. They are being published jointly with the Abbey of Schweiklberg and appear every three months. 24 pp., available also in electronic format.

Ever since the German monasteries were suppressed in 1941 the Swiss confreres publish there own periodical:  Missionsblätter from St. Otmarsberg come out five times a year and can also be downloaded electronically.

Münsterschwarzach Abbey publisheds the ruf in die zeit. quarterly. Back issues are available here for download.

Königsmünster Abbey in Meschede publishes the quarterly Gruss aus der Abtei Königsmünster.

A typical Benedictine feature is the fact that all these publications are published independently, with little cross-sharing of contents.


Ein Mescheder in Tansania
Fr Robert Sandrock shared his experiences in Southwest Tanzania – in German.

Visión Contemplativa
is a regular bulletin by Fr Beda Hornung from Güigüe, Venezula – in Spanish.



More or less useful information on our Congregation.

Abbot President Jeremias Schröder

On 13th October 2012 the general chapter elected Archabbot Jeremias Schröder (b. 1964) abbot president of the Congregation for an 8 year term. The new abbot president knows the ropes as he has held this office already since 2000 together with that of archabbot of the Sankt Ottilien community.

The abbot president is “supreme moderator” of the Congregation. His duties are described as fostering the unity and the common missionary responsilibity of Congregation. In addition, several communities are directly placed under his authority: the recent foundation in Cuba, the priories in Tororo/Uganda and Kumily/India, and the International Benedictine Study House in Nairobi/Kenia.

Lumen Caecis

The Latin motto of the Missionary Benedictines translates as “light for the blind”. It is taken from the ancient hymn „Ave Maris Stella“ which goes back to the 8th century and is used for feasts of the Virgin Mary. .

The founder of the Missionary Benedictines used this motto in order to allude to the legend of St Ottilia (or Odilia) who had been born blind and received eyesight at her baptism. Lumen Caecis is also an expression of the missionary task of the Congregation. The gospel brings light into the souls and hearts of the people, and early Christians  unerstood their baptism as a photismos – an enlightenment.


Originally the Congregation and Sankt Ottilien Archabbey shared one coat of arms. 2012, after the separation of the offices of abbot president from the archabbey, a new coat of arms for the Congregation was drawn up. It shows the five-branch candlestick, a traditional symbol of the Missionary Benedictines of St. Ottilien. It refers to the legend of St Ottilia and also to the mission directed to the peoples on all five continents. The red background symbolizes the love Christ to which our life and service should be a testimony. It also hints at the reality of martyrdom which sometimes has crowned our work.

The net in the lower part of the shield refers to the Congregation which essentially is a network of monasteries. At the same time it hints our vocation as fishers of men. The staff behind the shield is surmounted by a disk-cross or flabellum. This points to the many dioceses that have been established through our work. It is inscribed as a cross of St. Benedict, thus indicating the Benedictine tradition in which we stand.

This is the blazon or description of the coat of arms in heraldic terms, courtesy of Dom Henry O’ Shea: “Argent fretty sable on a chief gules a five-branched candlestick or, the whole on a flabellum in pale argent staffed of the same, within an orle a greek cross bearing between its arms the letters CSPB, all sable.”

Abbot Primate Notker Wolf

One of the most well known Benedictines is Notker Wolf. From 1977 to 2000 he was archabbot of St. Ottilien and abbot president of the Congregation of the Missionary Benedictines.  In 2000 he was elected abbot primate of the Benedictine Confederation. In this capacity he is the leader ca. 7000 monks and 14.000 Benedictine women. He resides in Sant’Anselmo in Rome, the primatial abbey which houses also a Papal University and an international study house. The abbot primate is the grand chancellor of this university.

He has become well known through a number of books on political, social and spiritual questions and – especially – in German speaking countries – , through interviews and talk shows.

His current period of office will end in 2016. Notker Wolf has made it known repeatedly that in old age he intends to return to St. Ottilien in order to teach Latin or peel potatoes.

A book-length biography was published in 2010. > publisher’s site


  • Haus der Kongregation
  • Erzabtei 13
  • 86941 St. Ottilien
  • Germany
  • Tel. +49 8193 71801
  • info(at)missionsbenediktiner.de
  • www.ottilien.org

The Missionary Benedictines.


Benediktinerkongregation von St. Ottilien K.d.ö.R.

  • Abtpräses Jeremias Schröder
  • Erzabtei 13
  • D-86941 St. Ottilien
  • Tel. +49 8193 71801
  • info(at)missionbenediktiner.de
  • www.missionsbenediktiner.de

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