COMBONI THAT DAY

In Pace Christi

Fr. Weiss Reinhold

Born: 15/01/1936
Luogo di Nascita: Weingarten (D)

Voti temporanei: 30/10/1960
Voti perpetui: 05/02/1965
Ordinazione: 06/03/1966

Date of Death: 29/11/2017
Place of Death: Ellwangen (D)

“I did the novitiate together with Fr. Reinhold Weiss” – writes Fr. Reinhold Baumann – “and attended the theological faculty of Bamberg. Last year we celebrated together the fiftieth anniversary of our priestly ordination. For the past twenty years we were members of the community of Ellwangen. However, I ask myself: Did I really know him? Perhaps he, too, would have had his doubts. Despite this, I shall endeavour to present him as I knew him”. The following are some passages by Fr. Reinhold, for Familia Comboniana.

He was born on 15 January 1936 at Weingarten/Baden-Württemberg, not far from Lake Constance. After the second World War, his two elder brothers started a plastics factory at Wehingen. Fr. Reinhold, like his brothers, was always very interested in technical and electronic things as well as the nascent digitalisation.

Fr. Reinhold had for some time felt attracted to the missionary life. He therefore went to Bamberg where it was possible to attend night school and sit for the final secondary school exams. His mother had known a Comboni Missionary and so he found lodgings at the house of the Combonis and attended the school run by the Carmelites. In 1959 he entered the novitiate of Mellatz.

It was there that we met for the first time. We were twenty novices in all. Almost all of us were from the seminary. Fr. Reinhold was four years older than the other novices. He had had more experience of life and had a driving licence.

It was the time of the Council and the revolution of 68. We young scholastics felt we were the leaders of a new era. Reinhold seemed to be a mature person and sure of himself. The superiors trusted him and gave him the task, even though he was only a scholastic, of preparing two editions of the calendar for the “Holy Redeemer Guild” (1964 and 1965), the second with my collaboration. In the spiritual field, too, there was a new atmosphere. The two of us would meet every week with Fr. Alois Weiss to read and share together the Word of God and discuss theological themes.

I believe the superiors expected great things from Fr. Reinhold. After his ordination in 1966 they sent him to South Africa, equipped with a camera to take pictures and collect material for the magazine. That was the first time the superiors permitted anyone to do such a thing. He returned with over 3,000 slides that are still to be found in the provincial archives, properly catalogued and computerised. I think Reinhold was the first in the province to have a computer.

On his return from South Africa he was appointed formator at the seminary of Bad Mergentheim and, in 1970, of the seminary of Milland. From 1975 to 1978 he was military chaplain to the great barracks of Ellwangen.

In 1978 he was assigned to the community of Limone. Even before the reunion there was an exchange of personnel between the two Institutes. Fr. Weiss willingly accepted the appointment and learned Italian quite well. Limone is a holiday resort frequented by many Germans and many of them stay there almost the whole year round or during the summer and a number of them would visit the house of the Founder. Gradually they discovered in Fr. Weiss a good intermediary, always available to give a word of advice or offer spiritual direction.

In 1987 he was assigned to the DSP and appointed superior of the small community of Pocking until it was closed in 1989. From 1989 to 1993 he worked at the community of Ellwangen as superior and, from 1993 to 1996 as provincial secretary at Bamberg. From 1997 up to his death, he was a member of the community of Ellwangen.

At Ellwangen he acted as spiritual director to the elderly confreres and willingly assisted the nearby parishes. At the same time, he did research work on Comboni. He had discovered Comboni during his years at Limone. It was the time of the reunion of the two Institutes (1979), of the centenary of Comboni’s death and, later, that of his beatification and canonisation. Fr. Reinhold translated a number of letters of Comboni into German.

Due to serious health problems, he never went back to the mission.

In conclusion, I would like to mention the Bible group, of which he was the spiritual director, that gathered regularly at our house.

Father Reinhold now rests in the cemetery of Ellwangen, next to 68 other confreres; 40 Priests and 28 Brothers. (Fr. Reinhold Baumann)