"We do not have a manual for abandoned communities", jokes Michael Engelmann. For one year now, the chairman of the monastery association and his team have been organizing the Forchheim community St. Anton. A year ago, the remaining five fathers gave up the location in Forchheim.
Since then, the board and its team have been doing those tasks that a parish council and church council would otherwise do: They organize the program, they distribute the tasks, they keep contact with the Redemptorists, they take care of donations and finances, they coordinate with Father Holzschuh, who has taken over the services, and they lend a hand.
Donations instead of taxes
The result can be found in a yellow folder in the sacristy. It contains almost everything needed to organize a church congregation.
Tasks and energetic people: who unlocks the church, who takes care of the flowers, who supplies the scripture table, who maintains the website or who makes communion helpers? "We are on our own", knows angel man. Funds flow not from the church tax coffers, but from donations and its own foundation, which had initiated the real estate company Sontowski as a buyer of the remaining monastery area.
Church self-made as an association: Can it work? "We wanted church life in all its diversity to be present in St. Anton remains", is how fellow board member Rita Kraub describes the basic mood after the Fathers announced their retirement in 2013 due to a lack of young musicians.
A great solidarity
The association was founded from committed volunteers and took over responsibility exactly one year ago.
One year later, the board looks back on more than 200 members. Almost 50 of them are new. "People feel connected to the monastery and want to get involved," explains, explains Kraub. Whether it’s closing service or cash auditor, lector or musician, sacristan or service organizer – all positions were quickly filled. "Everyone joins in, we feel a great sense of solidarity", Kraub is pleased.
Why is the association so popular?? What distinguishes this community from others?? The place is homey, like a second home, old and young club members report and describe a place of great cohesion – open to all and also to new things.
With its reflection offers such as the "Oasis of Silence", "Retreat in everyday life" and themed church services, the people involved no longer just want to attract traditional churchgoers, but people from all denominations. Top-class church music for choir and orchestra in St. Anton inspires classical music lovers, modern sounds are offered by the church band "Klosterbaren". In the diocese, there is no second parish that organizes itself as an association. "We are church", says Engelmann – in the truest sense of the word.