Father Arno (Winfried) Münz OSB
Missionary Benedictine of St. Georgenberg Abbey
5 February 1940 – 16 October 2020
Our confrere Fr. Arno Münz OSB died on 16 October in the infirmary of St. Ottilien Archabbey. Due to his deteriorating health in recent months and the hospital stays associated with it, death for him was a release. He was aware of his condition because a few weeks ago he said that he would not live to see Christmas.
On 5 February 1940, he opened his eyes to the light of this world in Kaiserslautern as the first of two children of the primary school teacher Maria Münz, née Dahnes, and the gymnasium teacher and writer Karl Münz. Since the mother was employed by the Americans as a teacher, the small family suffered no hunger. Because of the Second World War his father first saw him when he was five years old. Since his father was assigned to various gymnasium positions, he spent his childhood and youth attending primary schools in Hollenbach and Dietenhein, the middle school of the School Brothers in Illertissen and the Deutschorden Gymnasium in Bad Mergentheim, from which he graduated in 1959.
As he was supposed to grow up “unharmed,” influenced by his grandmother, everything “demonic” was kept from him and playing football, dancing and listen to or playing Wagner operas and brass band music was frowned upon in the Münz household. Making music in the home, afternoon games and chess games were a pleasant change for him. The encounters in the Münz house with writers, Siegfried Lenz among others, were also interesting. Due to his musical talent he was a member of the Dietenheimer Spatzen. It was very important to him that he had his own room, that he did not feel locked up and was enterprising from the outset. In his opinion, through contact with his peers he became more brazen and bolder.
A reflection about his future and the sudden thought, “I will go to a monastery,” as well as attending midday prayer at Münsterschwarzach Abbey, the many retreat discussions with Fr. Gilbert from Bad Wimpfen and engaging with the Rule of Benedict, especially with the sentence, “He (the cellarer) should regard all the tools and property of the monastery as he sacred vessels of the altar,” moved Fr. Arno to enter St. Ottilien Archabbey in the fall of 1959. This involved a major adjustment. After the novitiate and making his profession on 19 September 1960, he began, in the usual manner, with the study of philosophy at St. Ottilien’s own college. This was followed by theology studies in Munich from 1962 to 1964. He was ordained a deacon in Benediktbeuern in 1964. Since Fr. Arno was to become an English teacher, Archabbot Suso Brechter sent him to study in America. He arrived in New York via ocean steamer and lived at St. Paul’s Abbey, Newton. From 1964 to 1966 he continued and completed his theological formation at Conception Abbey, Missouri. He used his vacation periods to become acquainted with America by driving his own car. He was ordained a priest in Cambridge, Massachusetts by Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Riley of the Archdiocese of Boston on 26 August 1965; his parents and sister came for the ordination. He celebrated his first Mass at the abbey in Newton followed by another on 24 June 1966 in Bad Mergentheim. In America, Fr. Arno had already told the archabbot that a second degree would cause him problems. The archabbot wrote him back, “Take care of your soul.”
After his return to St. Ottilien, Archabbot Suso wanted him to continue his training as an English teacher but there was still an internal block with Fr. Arno. So he become involved in helping out pastorally in the environs of St. Ottilien. After St. Georgenberg-Fiecht Abbey joined the Congregation, Fr. Arno and several other confreres were sent to St. Georgenberg-Fiecht in March 1967. Originally he was only supposed to go to Fiecht for half a year, but one year passed and then another so that, feeling at home, he transferred his stability to our abbey on 27 December 1972. Shortly after his arrival, he was assigned, without any pedagogical training as he always pointed out, as prefect in our abbey boarding school. In spite of this, he managed in a 20-year period to inspire the students with plays, a musical, joint tent camps, mission bazars, tutoring and a diverse range of leisure activities and to promote the talents of those entrusted to him. Many students remember him fondly, are grateful to him and remained in contact with him. He also served as a religion teacher in the secondary school in Fiecht.
In addition to his school activities, he set up a center for spiritual programs in St. Georgenberg in 1969 at the advice of Abbot Gregor Schinnerl and in the summer of 1970 the first programs were offered. Previously for his own spiritual formation he had attended the courses of Graf Dürckheim and thus was born the program of Meditation Weeks with Mountain Hikers. Year after year he offered this program because of its popularity. According to a saying of Bishop Stecher, hiking on the Karwendel Heights is also following a path over the mountains leading to God. In addition, an annual booklet of themes of spiritual thoughts for meditation was created. The participants appreciated the programs he offered as he shared much of his own spiritual treasure for their personal life’s journey. In the course of time, many of their own life’s knots were undone and they experienced much freedom in their own lives. Contributing to the release of so many internalized attitudes was his own attendance at the year’s course in spiritual counseling at St. Anselm’s in England in 1999. There was also sacred dances, as he was trained in meditative dancing, and dancing had become his passion. The encounters with Friedrich Weinreb were memorable and profitable for Fr. Arno as they offered him a new biblical perspective. That resulted in his offering bible courses and Enneagram retreats. The retreats that he gave to religious communities in Europe and overseas and his spiritual journeys to Burgundy and South Tyrol are well remembered. In the parish of Terfens he was the temporary pastor from 1991 to 1998, gave religious instruction and was an active trumpeter in the Terfens Federal Musical Band. He led the church choir in the Fiecht parish from 1988 to 1991; he himself played the violin and guitar.
He was the prior of the monastery of Fiecht for a long time, took on the office of novice master and cantor and served as editor of the mission calendar. Until shortly before his death, he acted as webmaster looking after our homepage. For these services in our community we are very grateful to our deceased confrere.
He continued to fulfill all these services and offer programs although he was a dialysis patient from 2005, had a kidney transplant in 2011 and a number of vertebrae in his back had stiffened in 2014. The last operation was unsuccessful as he walked bent over more and more and suffered from much pain.
He followed the renovation of St. Georgenberg into a monastery with great interest. It was his express wish to move there and get the biggest room in the enclosure. May his dwelling place in the Father’s house fulfill his wish.
We will celebrate the requiem for our confrere Fr. Arno on Friday, 30 October 2020, at 2 p.m. in the monastery church of Fiecht and then, following his wishes, bury him in the crypt there.
— Prior Administrator P. Raphael Klaus Gebauer OSB and the community