Father Rupert (Horst) Hemminger OSB
Missionary Benedictine of Sankt Ottilien
24 May 1934 – 25 November 2019
In the morning hours of 25 November our Fr. Rupert Hemminger died peacefully in our infirmary after a long, full life.
He was born on 24 May 1934 in Nagold, a city in the district Calw, in the Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart. His parents, Hermann Hemminger, a carpenter by profession, and Anna Hemminger, née Knies, had their second child baptized there on 24 June with the name Horst. As Fr. Rupert said a few years ago about his vocation, his home was not particularly religious or church-going. Horst was able to spend a peaceful childhood in Weingarten with his parents and two siblings, but these years were politically influenced by the impending World War. During the war years he attended primary school there from 1940 to 1944. Since many of his talents were already showing up, he transferred in 1944 for a year to the National Political Institute of Education in Rottweil, a national politically accentuated secondary school. Because all schools of this Institute were closed at the end of the war, he attended the secondary school in Ravensburg from 1945 to 1948 with the intention of completing school at the St. Ottilien Mission Seminary. It was in his early years as a high school student that he first came into contact with St. Ottilien. Thus he entered the seminary at St. Ottilien in 1948. After graduating, he entered the monastic community of the archabbey and began the novitiate with the religious name of Rupert. He made his first profession on 26 September 1955. First, he passed through the usual academic track for university students: He studied philosophy at the monastery’s own college from 1955 to 1957, then transferred to the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich to study theology from 1957 to 1961 and additionally acquired a diploma in catechetics. On 4 September 1960, he and eight other confreres were ordained to the priesthood at St. Ottilien by Abbot-Bishop Eberhard Spiess of Peramiho, Tanzania. Afterwards he began an agricultural apprenticeship on the big farm (1961–62) in order to prepare practically for agricultural studies at Hochschule Weihenstephan. He completed these studies with his fellow novice Fr. Gregor Treffer from 1962 to 1965. As a certified agricultural engineer he completed a training period from 1965 to 1967 with the state exam.
Fr. Rupert, now very well trained, took up a position as a teacher in the St. Ottilien Agricultural School in 1967 and took over the direction of the boarders until the closure of this nationally known institution in 1976. Already in 1970 Archabbot Suso Brechter had appointed him to the post of farm manager of St. Ottilien which he held until 1979. During this time he continued to develop the farm further, for example, by setting up its own drying and storage facility for grain in 1975 and by the installation of the first milking carousel in 1977. Since Fr. Rupert specialized in the feeding of livestock, he dealt with it on the spot both practically and scientifically and in 1971 earned a doctorate in agriculture (Dr. agr.) with the dissertation “On the Influence of the Feeding Technique on the Feed Intake of Cattle.” As the farm manager, hunting also came under him. For this reason, following tradition, he acquired a hunting license in 1976 and regularly went out hunting. With the death of the longtime farm manager Fr. Moritz Schrauf in 1973, Fr. Rupert also succeeded him in the office of managing director of the Alumni Association of the St. Ottilien Agricultural School (VIF). He carried out this honorary post with dedication until 2006. In September 1979 Archabbot Notker Wolf named him cellarer of the archabbey. This opened up a great field of work for Fr. Rupert along with numerous meetings, consultations and a great deal of travel. In discussions he could listen well, in controversial situations, however, he could also flare up. Many large building projects fell during his time as cellarer, such as the expansion of the school, the new buildings at the Jakobsberg monastery, the remodeling of the monastery church (1992–95), and the renovation of the guest house (2005–06). During these years the economic situation of the archabbey was supported by many confreres who were active in the monastery workshops and in the farm. Since Fr. Rupert, among other things, developed into a specialist in questions of insurance, he was a member of the state committee of the Bavarian State Hail Insurance (1985–1996), the agents conference of the General Public Health Insurance (AOK) Landsberg (1983–1996) and from 1996 on the advisory board of the administration of the General Public Health Insurance Landsberg. Representing the religious, he was a member of the Augsburg Diocesan Caritas Council (1982–1997) and from 1997 for some years a member of the advisory board of the Caritas Consulting Co. Augsburg. For many years Fr. Rupert also operated for the archabbey a small agency of Gothaer Insurance.
On 1 October 2006, Archabbot Jeremias released him from his manifold tasks as cellarer. Fr. Rupert now moved to second place, which was not always easy for him, and was entrusted within the administration with the area of insurances. Not only after being released from the office of cellarer was Fr. Rupert engaged in pastoral ministry. Soon after his studies Priors Paulus Hörger and from 1991, Fr. Claudius Bals regularly assigned him to pastoral help-outs in the surrounding parishes where his amiable and friendly contacts were appreciated. Fr. Rupert willingly took on programs in the retreat house and enriched its offerings with contemplative and meditation retreats, walks or pilgrimages and cultural trips to Italy or Austria. He regularly gave retreats in other retreat centers and to monastic communities. In general Fr. Rupert was a person very much interested in culture. Rather withdrawn from the community, he read much, showed great interest in the visual arts, himself collected craftworks and loved music. So it is not surprising that he supported the schola with his voice and participated in the liturgy as a cantor. As a “quiet connoisseur” he liked to combine culture with a pleasant atmosphere and culinary enjoyment.
In recent years Fr. Rupert often had to go the hospital because of health issues. His health deteriorated so much that he had to be brought twice a week since November for kidney dialysis. When asked what word from Scripture shed light on his life, Fr. Rupert responded in 2004 with a verse from Psalm 62: “In God alone is my soul at rest. From him alone comes my hope.” May this hope be granted him. May he live on in peace!
The funeral Mass with burial is on Thursday, 28 November, at 10:30 a.m. in the abbey church of Sankt Ottilien
Archabbot Wolfgang Öxler and the community of Sankt Ottilien Archabbey