With an alert mind and “mellowness of age”

With an alert mind and 'mellowness of age'

Eckehard kiesewetter casar keeps him on his toes, because the labrador-rod is still very playful despite his three years of age. It is one of the great pleasures in the private life of rudolf theiler. The catholic priest also likes to swim, but that’s another remedy prescribed by the doctor, for "the old bones" are no longer so cooperative. The carmelite priest, who for 13 years has been the parish priest in ebern and also pastor of the parish community "gemeinsam unterwegs" ("together on the road"), was a member of the community for many years (ebern-jesserndorf-unterpreppach) is 68 years old, so he is actually in the prime retirement age.

But for churchmen, there is the pension at "60 plus not. They work until they can’t anymore. That is also the case for theiler, because he is still far from thinking about retirement. He wants to remain faithful to his sheep in the habbergen mountains.

"Quite long, and yet short"

And yet that’s 40. Jubilee of his priestly ordination a shave. Theiler celebrated this anniversary on monday, 20. May; the official celebration with a large church choir and the participation of several priest colleagues takes place during the service on pentecost sunday. "Such anniversaries show you that you are getting old", says the upper franconian by birth.

"That is quite a long time, even if I still have the feeling that it was short." Today he experiences even the concentration for a service as physically exhausting and in the evening he is often much too exhausted to do the planned office work. A pulmonary embolism and an accident in which he lost his right eyesight years ago have taken their toll on the clergyman.

The body ages, but the spirit remains young. The native of upper franconia had already made the same experience several times in the past. For example, when he was almost 40 years old and had to admit to himself that sitting around the campfire late at night was no longer for him, or when the young people, who were all sitting in a circle on the ground, were the only ones to provide him with a chair. He later had a similar experience as a university pastor in bamberg at nighttime student meetings with alcohol and loud music.

"At some point you realize you don’t fit in anymore, the phase is over", says theiler, who now feels more at home working with seniors.

Yes, when he was younger, he would get involved, speak out politically, as he did in the past. Saying yes was never rudolf theiler’s thing, rather a decisive "now-first-right – a "68er just.

"What people didn’t think I could do, I’ve done all the more", says theiler. That’s how he managed to pass the baccalaureate despite doubts, that’s how he became and remained a religious, and that’s how he studied theology. Instead of asking "why to ask, he always asked: "why not??"

At the university, he initiated sponsorships with foreign countries, got involved with the unemployed, and was a member of the foreign students’ advisory board.He sometimes wishes he could look back on his experiences in church youth work or his time as a student pastor: "I was able to do what I wanted, to get involved myself. He co-founded city partnerships with jena and vladimir, cities in the former GDR and the soviet union, and gave guest lectures in russia and organized trips.

In general, the internationality of his order has helped him to spend time abroad all over the world. Wherever he went, to brazil, india, kenya or the USA, "in the carmelite houses I was always a bit at home.

To this day, rudolf theiler has excellent connections to erlangen, where he worked for 17 years. He belonged to the convent there and could also spend his twilight years there – if he wanted to. He spent the longest time in bamberg, where, in addition to pastoral care at the university, he was a member of the provincial leadership and director of the marianum educational center. "I had an apartment there, too," says, he says.

At home in ebern

In fact, however, theiler wants to stay in ebern and continue to work as a pastor of the parish community. Here he felt at home and here he learned to appreciate the work of the many volunteers who kept community life going in ebern and the western parts of town even during his hospital stays. "On the road together is obviously more than just a pious wish. "You can fully rely on our employees", says theiler. He is sticking to his guns, even if there are always differences of opinion, even if he is now surprised at the intransigence and intransigence of some of his fellow human beings.

He also regrets that too much is done purely within the church, and that the work in the parish is too little oriented toward society as a whole. In the past, there were education committees, trips and brazil circles, but today only parish festivals are organized and communion meetings are prepared. From his point of view, the commitment of the bamberg dentist stefan dietrich, who volunteers his time as a pastoral worker and has become an important contact person for many people in the parish community, is a blessing.

Left in the lurch

Theiler, on the other hand, is frustrated by the poor staffing of the parish community with full-time employees; a situation that became even worse after the retirement of father richard pfletschinger (the salesian will end his service at the end of the month at the age of 80 for health reasons). The attempt to recruit the salesian priest alfons bluml (72 years old) as a substitute for ebern failed due to a veto of the deanery. So pastor theiler feels left alone in pastoral care, and the church’s important youth work, for example, suffers greatly as a result. Social workers and social pedagogues or religion teachers are certainly available, explains the pastor, but the church does not move enough in this area.

"Sometimes", says the jubilarian towards the end of the conversation "i’m glad i’m so old". As a result, he has become calmer, less impulsive, and even more mellow in his old age: "nothing can upset me so easily anymore." Today, this prevents him from despairing or running into walls: "some things are very disappointing in the church"." He says and cuddles casar’s female fur. That reassures.

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