On Sunday, 22nd February the Parish of St. Peter and Paul`s in Dessau gathered for a farewell mass for the Brothers. Bishop Gerhard Feige presided at the mass, and Propst Nachtwei, the parish priest, concelebrated along with Father Heinrich Haskamp of the Marist Fathers` community, which has been in Dessau since 1992. Father Georg Galke S.M. was also present.
The Brothers arrived in Dessau thirteen years ago and have worked in a variety of ministries: chaplaincy in hospitals and prisons, youth work, parish work, teaching, Caritas and the Bahnhofsmission (railway station apostolate). The initial community was comprised of Brothers Herbert Kühner and Michael Schmalzl from Germany, Brothers Maurice Godenir and Roger Davids from Belgium and Brother Wilfrid Harrison from England. Brothers Roger, Michael and Wilfrid left after a number of years and Brother Augustin Hendlmeier joined the community in 2010 and stayed until December 2014.
The Chair of the Parish council spoke warmly about the presence of the Brothers in her farewell speech. In his reply Brother Brendan Geary, Provincial, said that the Brothers who had lived in Dessau had all benefited from the experience of living in Dessau, and that it had been an important initiative for our Province. After the mass there was a reception in the parish where parishioners were able to talk to the Brothers. During the reception a Syrian Christian spoke about his move to Dessau with his family, and a Lebanese Christian who now works in Dessau also spoke about his gratitude to the parish community and the experience of being welcomed as a refugee in Germany. A Muslim man from Africa spoke about his experience of joining the parish for worship each week and how grateful he was to be able to join them as a Muslim. It was heartwarming to hear these people speak in light of the difficulties currently being experienced in the Middle East and Africa.
Bishop Feige and Propst Nachtwei expressed their gratitude to Brother Jacques Scholte, Provincial when the community was established, and to the Brothers who contributed to the life of the Catholic Community in Dessau and the diocese of Magdeburg over the past thirteen years.
Brother Brendan Geary
G. Nachtwei, M. Godenir, W. Harrison, H. Kühner, G. Feige, H. Haskamp, B. Geary