— Google translated from German and lightly edited
“Come to me all who are troubled and who have to bear heavy loads; you will find rest for your soul.” (Mt 11, 28)
On February 20, 2020, at 10 a.m.,
after a long period of severe suffering
and endowed with the sacraments of the church,
passed away in the Steyr hospital the most honorable gentleman
Abbot em. Johannes Gerhard Gartner OSB
KR OStR Mag. Theol. Dr. phil.,
Benedictine von Seitenstetten,
Abbot emeritus of Seckau,
high school professor i. R., pastor i. R. von Allhartsberg,
honorary citizen of Weistrach and Seckau
Gerhard Gartner was born on May 28, 1940, in Vienna, the son of the late State School Inspector and Court Councilor Dr. Leopold Gartner and his wife Anna. He attended the elementary schools in Stripfing and in the Melk monastery parish in Weikendorf, where he also grew up, and afterward the lower school of the secondary school in Strebersdorf and the high school of the Benedictines in Melk. After graduating from high school in 1958, he went on to study classical philology at the University of Vienna. There he met Fr. Benedikt Wagner, which later led to his contact with Seitenstetten. Gerhard Gartner received his doctorate in 1962 with a thesis on the handwritten tradition of the Regula Benedicti in Austria as a doctor of philosophy.
After passing the teacher examination, Dr. Gerhard Gartner taught from 1963 to 1967 at the Stiftsgymnasium Seitenstetten. During this time he also studied theology at the University of Vienna, entered the seminary in St. Pölten and wrote his diploma thesis on the history of the parish of Weistrach, published in 1973. On June 29, 1967 he was in Waidhofen and was ordained a priest by Bishop Franz Žak. He then worked as a chaplain in St. Andrä vor dem Hagenthale, Amstetten and Weistrach. From 1968 to 1979 he taught at the abbey high school. In 1979 Dr. Gerhard Gartner was Rector of the St. Hippolyt Education Center in St. Pölten; from 1980 to 1984 he was spiritual director at the seminary there and at the same time taught Latin and Greek at the BRG. Since 1980 he was also a lecturer in Christian spirituality at the St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences.
On August 13, 1984, Dr. Gerhard Gartner entered Seitenstetten Abbey, where he received the very revered evangelist Johannes as patron saint for his religious life. A fruit of his novitiate was the booklet “Psiathion” with meditations on the life of St. Benedict, which he edited together with Abbot Berthold and which had several editions. From 1984 to 2000 Fr. Johannes taught again at the abbey high school, was chaplain of the Seitenstetten parish for a few years and from 1988 held the office of master of novices and clerics. Fr. Johannes was also a member of the regular commission for the new translation of the Regula Benedicti and the second book of the dialogues of Pope Gregory the Great. On a variety of occasions he was a welcome preacher and until recently a sought-after leader of retreats.
Both in 1997 and 2000, Father Johannes was elected Abbot by the Benedictines in Seckau, who had met him as a retreat leader. He accepted the second time and headed the Styrian Benedictine monastery for ten years. After retiring, he returned to Seitenstetten and took over the parish of Allhartsberg. There he suffered a severe stroke on the evening of All Saints Day 2016 and was only found on the following All Souls Day when he had not appeared for the Holy Mass. He hadn’t been able to speak since then and was paralyzed on one side. In the last three years of his life, he was lovingly cared for in the Haag Senior Center.
Abbot Petrus Pilsinger asks for prayer for the deceased brother and for commemoration in celebration of the Eucharist.