As countless refugees from the Middle East and other trouble spots knock at the gates of Europe, our monasteries have decided to open their doors. Abbot Michael Reepen of Münsterschwarzach refers to a “a genuine monastery task” as his community prepares to receive 22 refugees in a converted former boarding house of the abbey. St. Ottilien Abbey plans to have space for a similar number ready in February of next year. St. Georgenberg-Fiecht in Austria has been sharing the abbey building for several years with a growing group of “unaccompanied minors” – young people who have reached Europe without their parents and whose care is entrusted to Caritas Austria. In this way the monks also fufill a request of Pope Francis who shortly after taking office had admonished the church to make surplus buildings available for those who have lost their homes.
The renovation of the Congregation House, seat of the Congregation offices at St. Ottilien, was finished in September 2014. The old procure building had been put up in 1972 following a decision of the general chapter. It needed re-roofing and new windows, re-wiring, a new entrance and some interior reconfiguration. It now houses the offices for the abbot preisdent, the Congregation procurator and the Congregation secretary, the administration and the logistics office, a small library and conference room. The same building also houses the mission procure of the archabbey of St. Ottilien and its press office.