The funeral of Br Hermann Schalück

Paderborn (Germany), 5th February, 2024

05 February 2024

The funeral of Br Hermann Schalück, Minister General of the Order from 1991 to 1997, was celebrated on the 5th February in St. Joseph’s Chapel at the Franciscan Friars’ convent of Paderborn, Germany. 

Also present, together with the friars of the Province of Saint Elizabeth, were the General Definitors Br Joaquin Echeverry and Br Jimmy Zammit, as Delegates of the Minister General, and some nuns and Religious Sisters from different congregations, as well as family members and the faithful. 

The Requiem Mass was presided over by Msgr. Ludwig Schick. At the beginning of the Mass, Br Markus Fuhrmann, Minister Provincial of the Province of St. Elizabeth, said: “With Hermann Schalück we have lost a brother with a profound sense of the prophetic and visionary power of the Gospel. He was a man of dialogue, a builder of bridges between religions and cultures, but also a link between very different ways of thinking and believing in the Universal Church. His thoughts and words gave birth to the breadth and depth of the Good News”. 

Br Heribert Arens, OFM, who gave the homily, spoke fondly of the figure of Br Hermann, saying how he was born in a small town, “too small for his mentality: everything was always too small for him!”. 

Br Heribert continued by recalling that Br Hermann was the youngest Minister Provincial of the Province of Saxony, that his formation was founded on St. Augustine and St. Bonaventure. “I met him in college, he was a man always searching and when he had a dream, he said to himself and to others: «Why can’t I make it come true?»”. 

Br Hermann spent several years at the Curia General, first as Secretary General for Formation and Studies, then as General Definitor and finally, from 1991 to 1997, as Minister General. It was not possible to put his thoughts, his person, in a box – said Br Heribert – because he always tried to look beyond; inspired by Pope St. Paul VI, he had a vision of the mission of the Church on a global level, going beyond the Western point of view, looking instead at the growth of local Churches and encouraging dialogue between and with them. 

The homily ended with a very evocative image: “For our Br Hermann, vocation was very important: he let himself be called by God towards new horizons, new ideas, new commitments. Now he has received the final call from God: the one into His very presence.” 

Before burying him, a moment of prayer was held in the chapel of the city’s Eastern cemetery, where the friars and family said their final farewell. 

In his letter of condolence, Bishop Dr. Georg Bätzing, President of the German Episcopal Conference wrote: “His presence throughout the world was impressive, as was his tireless commitment in speaking at Catholic conferences, in representing the organization of MISSIO relief and his work in Catholic Academies. Br Hermann Schalück was, we might say, “an International Father,” which was also linked with his long service of responsibility as Minister General of his order. As a Bishops' Conference, we are grateful that Br Hermann Schalück who accompanied us as an advisor in the Commission of the World Churches where he always remembered the world at large and especially the poor.

The friars of the Province of St. Elizabeth expressed words of deep condolences at the loss of Br Hermann. “Many people in the Franciscan family appreciated his intelligence, he had an almost "encyclopedic" knowledge, his rich gift for languages, his unshakable faith with its questions and doubts,” wrote Br Stefan Federbusch, Vicar Provincial, in his communication to the General Curia. “Even in old age, he was a listener and a sensitive counselor.  He will be missed by many." 

In his Letter published on the 27th January, the day that Br Hermann Schalück passed to eternal life, Br Massimo Fusarelli recalled Br Hermann’s gift of listening and his ability to know and read the signs of the times: “I always appreciated Br Hermann, especially whilst he was our Minister General, his ability to open our borders to the world giving our conversations and horizons meaning. He understood situations at many levels and sometime ago I recall there was a crisis in a certain model of religious life and it was he who understood and showed us how to move forward. He felt very strongly the urgency of a global commitment in favour of the poor and the need for the protection of creation, which was nourished by his profound Franciscan spirituality".

This ability to listen and read the signs of the times was the object of the homily that Br  Hermann himself, then Minister General, gave at the opening of the 1997 Chapter, celebrated at Our Lady of the Angels. “In these three weeks – he said – in an attitude of listening, prayer and discernment, we will share experiences, evaluations and proposals for the future. We will do it, moving "from tradition to prophecy". […] Our fundamental attitude, however, will not only be aimed at the past, for today we feel the call to be bearers of light and hope for ourselves, for the Franciscan Family, for the Church and for the world. To-day we are invited to be faithful in a dynamic, proactive, prophetic way, to live the meaning of this new era of the history of the Porziuncola: we, being a Fraternity on a mission. Therefore, after this meeting  dear brothers and sister, from the Porziuncola, let us set off again towards new horizons to live and announce the Gospel of Jesus Christ, just as St. Francis did" (Acta Ordinis Fratrum Minorum, An.  CXVI, Maii – Augusti 1997, Fasc. II, pp. 164-165). 

Let us bless the Lord for having given the Order a brother like Br Hermann: may our brother enjoy peace and all that is good in the eternal light of the Lord!

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