I was 33 years old, when I joined our congregation and I am called Brother Nikolaus - not particularly old, but I could already look back on important experiences in life. I already worked 14 years as a male nurse and lived independently in a residential accommodation of my employer at that time.
The consideration to join the brotherhood, occurred in a rather unusual way: While I was on the so-called "Orientation days" with a colleague, the conductor of this seminar "attacked" me during lunch time in the monastery garden with a very direct question: "Can't the brotherhood be anything for you?" How did he only deduce this? I should go into a monastery? This thought never passed away again and I cannot explain, why it was like this.
Spontaneously I drove to Mainz, where I gathered information for myself in the "office for religious occupations". A short time after that I looked for the discussion with our responsible local priest. His opinion was important to me, because we were/are connected in a friendly manner with each other. His message was: "Your place is here with us"! And now? Thereupon I destroyed all documents and remained there. But what remained were the thoughts about the life was in the brotherhood. It did not release me, and I became more courage less to work were I was.
A journey to Rome to an audience with the Pope and a Vatican newspaper should get me going further. I read an announcement of the Alexians and contacted them. Over five years I visited the brothers in Aachen, worked there, had intensive conversations and became acquainted with the community. The decision was a long process, which I do not repent until today. Surely there are depths and height also with us, but that belongs to every life.
My way in the monastery
My name is Br. Franziskus and I am 45 years old. I entered the Alexian monastery in Neuss in 1980 at the age of 17. The thing that impressed and attracted me so back then, and still does now, is the brother’s desire to help others and the goodness and love that they show toward the poor, sick, old, handicapped, and social outcasts. I can assure you that the example that these men showed me in the monastery convinced me to go the same way – or at least to try it first, together with them.
It wasn’t easy at the beginning for someone like me, who never before had anything to do with psychologically ill or handicapped persons. But they were patient and took good care of me and I could learn. I didn’t have to be perfect from the beginning. My brothers were always very understanding. They put up with me, and sometimes they carried me. That, to this day, has been a great gift for me.
After entering the brotherhood I worked in various secure stations in a psychiatric hospital. Then I completed my education in business administration. After taking my preliminary vows, I took over the supervision of a nursing home in Siegburg, where I worked for eight years. Then I returned to the monastery in Neuss where I founded a charity kitchen in which the brothers gave clothing and food to the homeless every day. Aside from this I was a member of the provincial council and I began studying theology. I became a deacon in 2001 and have been working in pastoral care in a large parish since then. Here I have a lot of contact with people. I can accompany them from the cradle to the hospital bed. This work fills me with great joy and I am thankful that I can do it here.
I’ve been doing this for almost 30 years now. As I write this I can see the faces of many brothers who have passed away and also those of brothers who are still with us as they pass by. Most of them were never men of many words, but their worn hands, their caring faces and their broken bodies are a testament to God’s love and kindness, and mean more to me than any book that I have ever read. Many have reached the end of their time while others are no longer far from it because they have given everything they had for the good of others and with every ounce of their strength. I am allowed to be one of them, even with my short-comings and weaknesses, and that makes me happy.
I am called brother Kamillus and I was born in the year 1935. After my school time I worked in a grocer's shop. This work was fun for me, but it did not fulfill me. I more and more felt moved towards God. Thus I joined the Alexian Brothers in the year 1961 in Aachen.
That was my answer to God`s call: To serve God in needy humans. I ever more experienced God`s benevolence and adopted the sentence: "I am appointed to make God`s benevolence visible". I am not always successful with that, but to work on it has become my task of life.
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Becoming an Alexian Brother
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