While the community was singing the verse, “Lord, you are my portion and cup,” during Compline at 7:45 p.m. on 2 April 2022, our oldest monk
Brother Silvanus (Gottfried) Weippert OSB
died in our infirmary.
On this past feast of St. Benedict he turned 97. Born on 21 March 1925 in Rimpar and growing up there with his father Martin, his mother Elisabetha and three brothers, he grew into the meaning of his baptismal name Gottfried. From 1931 to 1939 Gottfried attended the local primary school. Then came the vocational school and his apprenticeship as a carpenter. On 14 April 1942, he received his journeyman’s certificate.
Within a short time, the war tore him away from his profession and homeland. From 1944 to 1950, he underwent a very hard time as a prisoner of war in Russia. Two comrades from that time have been faithful friends. They said that Gottfried had saved their lives by sharing his bread. After his release in 1950, he worked for another two years as a carpenter for a company in Würzburg.
Right on time for his birthday and the feast of St. Benedict, he entered the abbey on 20 March 1952. The character of the script on his application for admission is already a visualization of his maturity. The content of the text he wrote says even more: “Through five years of imprisonment, which put me in touch with the greatest poverty and much I had to do without, I have realized what the real value and the apparent value of life consists of… After having been full of inner happiness in the circumstances of my captivity and having felt God’s hand so clearly many times, I prefer to live poorly and completely for God again.”
Thus he began the postulancy on 7 May 1952. The novitiate and life with the fitting name Silvanus began on 7 May 1953. Temporary profession was on 13 May 1954, perpetual profession on 19 May 1957.
Br. Silvanus was actually a carpenter the whole of his monastic life. From 1952 to 1956 at the abbey, after that, five years in Kaltenhof, at the abbey again from 1961 to 1979 until 2016, when he moved into assisted living and left the workshop behind. So from 1952 to 2016 everything that received a roof or needed repair passed through his hands.
What revealed that Br. Silvanus was a spiritual master was his steady hand at work, his always even step when walking, his gentleness with tools, wood and people. The guests from the guesthouse and Recollectio House who volunteered were all very impressed with this. Unforgettable for everyone is the sound of the hour bell in the workshop that brought about a short interruption for a moment of prayer. Br. Silvanus always had people around him who were wounded in many ways by life, his fellow workers whom he cared for and to whom he gave a lot of time.
His pastoral radius was large. With innumerable letters and copied texts—lovingly marked and underlined—he gave suggestions, support and testimony of faith.
Over the years, Br. Silvanus made the divine presence visible through silent adoration in the abbey church. Br. Silvanus could even be kneeling and asleep at times. In every situation he was in prayer. His one year, 1979/80, assisting as sacristan was especially fitting for him in this.
On Wednesday, 6 April 2022, at 2 p.m., we will celebrate the Eucharist for his blessed life. Afterwards we will carry to his grave this loveable confrere who was a total Benedictine: blessed in himself — a blessing for others.
Münsterschwarzach, 5 April 2022
Abbot Michael and the community of Münsterschwarzach