Memorable farewell celebration in Kaufbeuren

In mid August last year, the German Administration of the Nordic Catholic Church together with the Abbey of St. Severin invited members and friends to a three days’ celebration in Kaufbeuren to mark the retirement of Bishop em. Roald Nikolai Flemestad in order to “thank him and his wife Kirsten for their great personal commitment in setting up the administration and the episcopal supervision he exercised for eleven years with both great theological expertise and human warmth”.

Vicar General Daniel Gerte and Abbot Michael Maier OPR had arranged the program so that each day had its own character.

On Friday, there was an excursion with Fr. Daniel to the famous Pilgrimage Church of Wies – die Wieskirche – a UNESCO World Heritage site, located in the foothills of the Alps.

Saturday was dedicated to the ordination to the priesthood of Deacon Joachim Danz. The service took place in the Chapel of St. Severin where Fr. Joachim was ordained deacon in 2022. According to a custom established since the first ordinations in Kaufbeuren in 2012 the church event was followed by a reception at the “Gasthaus zum Engel” downtown.

On Sunday, all were invited to a festive mass to bid farewell to Bishop Roald Nikolai – “ein Fest des Glaubens”, with Abbot Michael OPR as celebrant and Vicar General Daniel as homilist.

In his homily, with reference to the Gospel for the day on St. Luke’s story of the miraculous catch of fish, Fr. Daniel gave tribute to Bishop Roald for his faithfulness and courage having founded the German mission in 2012 which, together with our brothers and sisters in Hungary and northern Italy, now has grown considerably in very difficult times for the Christian faith. As we continue to develop the administration you founded, we would do well to remember what we have learned from you: Dedication to service, faithfulness to your clergy, church members and friends – especially in challenging times; and last but not least, your commitment. I remember well the sermon you gave at my ordination in 2016, where you said: “We are only a small flock and will probably remain so. We all live far away from each other. But as your bishop, I am always there for you.”

At the end of mass, Abbot Michael gave a speech thanking Bishop Roald for his faithfulness and stable leadership, even through difficult times and “for all the years of your almost relentless and dedicated service, in which you were always concerned with one thing: That the Good News of God’s love in Jesus Christ reaches people throughout the entire administration – in word and deed! … You were and are a good shepherd who knows his own. Not only the famous and well-known, but also the simple and unknown.” The Abbot extended his thanks also to Kirsten for her faithful support to the work in Germany throughout the years.

Bishop Roald returned warm thanks for the kind words and expressed his profound gratitude to the German community for support and friendship throughout the years, and to Vicar General Daniel and Abbot Michael for their dedicated collaboration and personal commitment in developping the Nordic Catholic Church in Germany, Hungary and now lately in Slovakia. “It has not been an easy task in these difficult times to build new communities, especially for a young church like ours, but you have been steadfast in your faith overcoming challenges together with your communities and to the good of the church.”
Bishop Roald wished God’s blessing upon the work of the German administration, and expressed on behalf of Kirsten and himself heartfelt thanks for a generously prepared program to Fr. Daniel and Abbot Michael and all those who made this memorable farewell celebration possible: “What has happened here is a wonderful example of what it is to be Church — a community, faith-filled, joyous, supportive, able to work and celebrate together.”

After mass the congregation was invited to a reception with luncheon and refreshments in the courtyard of the monastery where, as a complete surprise, they were welcomed by a Kaufbeuren Brass Orchestra playing music from a series of famous Bavarian songs!

The joyful day came to an end at the departure of Bishop Roald and Kirsten with thanks and greetings of farewell and “auf Wiedersehen”.

From left: Br. Olav, Sr. Frederikke OPR, Abbot Michael OPR, Kirsten, Bishop Roald, Fr. Joachim, Fr. Franz OPR, Vicar General Daniel, Br. Maximillian OPR, Br. Georg OPR, Sr. Monica OPR and Br. Klaus Obl-OPR.

An album with more pictures from this festive occasion is available via this link: Celebration at the occasion of the retirement of Bishop Roald, 18-20 August 2024, and the homily of Vicar General Daniel can be found here:
Predigt Abschied Bischof Roald – 20.08.2023.

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