SCHWANBERG a good 30 women under one roof, all very different and yet united on the way to god – how does that work?? Prioress ursula buske speaks on the occasion of her 60th birthday. On my 23rd birthday. August about her very special "women’s house", dealing with feelings and the sandblasting effect in the evangelical women’s order "communitat casteller ring" (CCR).
What is the most important task of a prioress??
Sr. Ursula theresa buske: keeping track of things! Seeing each sister in her daily environment and recognizing where there is something to be balanced.
So to settle disputes?
Not only that. It also means recognizing when someone is not comfortable in their place, when they are overworked or underworked.
In the monastery there are four fixed times of prayer a day for everyone, as well as eating and working together. I imagine it was nerve-wracking.
We have all been brought to this place by the same vocation, but of course there are sympathies and antipathies – or rather the whole world of human emotions: envy, jealousy, joy, grief….. It is a great challenge to keep looking for the common denominator and to move forward together.
What makes life in the communitat nevertheless worthwhile?
For me, it’s clearly the fact that what I have in my life comes together here: work, family and spiritual life. This connection of the three elements was missing in my earlier days.
After graduating in business administration, you worked as a business graduate in munich. How did you come into contact with schwanberg??
I saw the schwanberg for the first time during my studies in wurzburg – from the rodelsee wine festival. The community of casteller ring came into play later: from munich, i followed the development of the CCR branch in augsburg. The community interested me. At some point i went to the schwanberg. When I experienced the hourly prayer, it was clear to me: that’s where I belong.
They suddenly realized that this is the place where they want to live?
Yes. That was already a calling back then, in 1991. I was 32 years old and knew that a whole new phase of my life was about to begin.
It sounds so simple. Was it that?
At first already. But then, well. As soon as I was really in it, I got a shock. A kind of community shock.
Because there is always someone around?
Something like this. I grew up as an only child. While I used to live as a single person in my apartment in munich, suddenly there were 30 people with whom I shared my daily life.
Why do this to yourself?
Because it brings you further personally. In the community you realize where you have corners and edges, which are useful and which should be better sanded off. The relationship work in the community has a kind of sandblasting effect.
Is it important on the way to god?
Yes. Working with people teaches you patience and perseverance. The word "persevere" appears repeatedly in the bible and means both to persevere and to arrive at the goal. In our benedictine life, it’s all about continuity.
You were prioress from 2002 to 2008. After that they left schwanberg for nine years. Why?
I have always kept in touch with schwanberg over the years. But it is quite common for people to leave when they pass on the priority to a newly elected sister. First, to give the successor space to find her own style, and second, because you also have to reorient yourself somehow.
Where did you orientate yourself??
First i lived in the munsterschwarzach recollectio house for three months. Then for three years I was president of the board of the brotherhood of jesus in the hessian monastery of gnadenthal. After that i worked in organizational development at the christustrager-bruderschaft in triefenstein, and finally i worked again at the border to hesse, with the benedictine nuns in the monastery of engelthal.
There, in march 2018, the request from schwanberg reached her.
Yes, I was absolutely surprised by it. It took me a little time, but then it was like coming home. There’s a lot to do, but I really enjoy working on issues and with people.
What are the rough "chunks" that you have to cope with??
Our roughest "construction site" is, in the truest sense of the word, the st. St. Michael’s church. The entire electrical system, including the lighting, is currently being renovated after the roof leaks. Just as important as keeping the property – the CCR e. V. Cares also about order and forest house – but is to make our community lively and attractive.
They are plagued by worries about new recruits?
Not so directly, but of course we could be a few more sisters. When I joined at the beginning of the 90s, we were over 50 years old. Now there are 31 of us, four of whom have yet to make our perpetual profession.
Both the catholic and the protestant congregations are running out of members – even though many people are looking for something to give meaning to their lives. Become established in religious communities?
Our advantage is that, if you like, you can come to us at any time. The church is always open, we have regular prayer times. If you want, you can meet a sister. But the opposite is also possible: you can get a new approach to the church through anonymity. Anyone who wants to see if they still have faith is welcome.
Why have so many people become church shy??
The church has lost credibility because of all the scandals. But in today’s society, the baby is thrown out with the bathwater. The question of the greater one who surpasses my human existence and gives me hope is as relevant as ever. I advise everyone to differentiate well: who has disappointed me, god or the people??
How important are reforms in the churches??
Encrusted structures have to be broken up, again and again, no matter in which church. The orthodox church is taking an interesting approach here. Priests are free to marry or not to marry. The deliberate celibacy in the monastery and in the order, however, is not in doubt. This is also good and important in order to be able to live a special relationship with god.
It’s never too late to start looking for god again?
Certainly not. Some also come back to christian beliefs through other faiths, such as buddhism. We want to bring the treasures of the bible to life. Everyone can rediscover it with us.
While many seekers of meaning come from all over the world to the mountain, the CCR in the immediate vicinity of the schwanberg is not known to all people for a long time. Can you explain this?
The schwanberg has always been an excursion mountain for the people around it. Some people do indeed always walk past the church. I think it takes a special moment to get in touch with the CCR. Meanwhile, this often happens through the peace forest. We sisters help to find a place, arrange funerals and even later hold memorial services for the deceased. More and more people appreciate this, even from the surrounding area.
Life on the schwanberg
Ursula buske: born in kassel in 1959, she already came into contact with monastic life during her high school years: her school was run by an order – albeit a catholic one. Buske: "back then i never thought i would belong to an order myself."After graduating from high school, she studied business administration in bamberg and wurzburg and then worked for a company in munich. In 1990, the business graduate got to know schwanberg. In 1991 she entered the evangelical order of women and made her perpetual profession in 1996.
CCR: more than 77 years ago, on easter night 1942, christel schmid and seven young women committed themselves to the cause of christ under the stone cross in the prince’s cemetery in castell. After the end of the war, they rebuilt the "bund christlicher pfadfinderinnen". From this grew – first secretly, then officially in 1950 – the communitat casteller ring (CCR). Since 1957 the community has its seat on the schwanberg mountain. She lives in good community according to the rule of benedict of nursia. The postulancy is followed by the two-year novitiate, which in turn can be followed by two years of time commitment. The final entrance into the order is the profession, the commitment for life. At the same time, the new sister receives her order name, the light-colored order robe and a chain with the order cross.
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