On Tuesday morning, 3 October 2017, our dear
Brother Vianney (Richard) Rentmeister, OSB
died in a hospital in Berlin.
On 20 September we found out that he had suffered a heart attack while on vacation. Several times first responders tried to resuscitate him, he was placed in intensive care, all the while Abbot Michael showing constant concern.
Br. Vianney was always considered very healthy, so all the more shocking and painful for us is his sudden death.
Br. Vianney was born in Wertheim on 26 October 1941. He grew up with six brothers in a faith-filled family. His father Ewald and his mother Barbara gave shape to a classic railroad family. It was always very important to him and a valuable inheritance. Perhaps from there Richard learned from a young age what was testified of him at the time he was in the candidates’ school: very diligent, his behavior in the community is very good, adapts very well to the order of the house. After primary school in Wertheim, he trained as a tailor in the monastery tailor shop.
Br. Vianney entered the abbey on 10 August 1958. He was admitted to the postulancy on 10 September 1958 and the novitiate on 10 September 1959, making his first profession on 13 September 1960. His solemn profession took place on 30 April 1967. Until he began his main occupation in 1963, he served for two years in the infirmary and another two years in assisting in the construction of the greenhouses. But then the fifteen years in the Münsterschwarzach procure helped to form his exemplary attitude of reverence, gratitude and openness in relating to everyone. In 1978 Br. Vianney was transferred to our St. Benedict Study House in Würzburg for five years. Again there was a small procure to be looked after. He left behind prominent traces in his work with altar servers, contacts that have lasted up to the present day. On 17 July 1983, Br. Vianney arrived at our priory in Schuyler, Nebraska, where he was to spend the next twenty-seven years of his life.
He was trained by Brothers Norbert Hasenmüller and Henry Libory Hartlief in the ways of a traveling brother, which he then diligently followed from 1985 to 1990. His journeys took him to New Mexico, Wisconsin, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina, California and Texas. We hardly know how many people Br. Vianney made contact with. That he was faithful to his contacts, we know for certain. They are the people who carry on the support of the work of the Benedictine Missionaries up to today.
After the death of Br. Innocent Rudloff in 1990, Br. Vianney went to work in the kitchen of the Schuyler community. A year’s training qualified him for this. To be the mother and soul of a house likewise suited his character. Those who experienced this can speak of it. Even so, during his time as priory cook, he would still go on the road to visit and make contact with donors. On 9 August 2010, shortly after the priory celebrated its 75th anniversary, Br. Vianney returned to Münsterschwarzach. His account of the past years ends: “I am grateful for these years in the USA, for my confreres, but also for the many thousands of people whom I had the chance to meet.”
From September 2010, we find him on the team at our reception area in the abbey. This task also included the readiness to answer calls at night and a diverse telephone ministry. Br. Vianney was prepared for this service by his time as assistant novice master from 1972 to 1978 and especially by his experience in making contact with a wide variety of people while traveling on behalf of the missions throughout the United States.
With him, we lose a confrere who fulfilled his tasks quietly and reliably, who had an active spiritual life, and who was deeply connected with the community. He was a faithful companion for countless people with whom he was in contact for many years. The community of Missionary Benedictines loses in Br. Vianney a “Missionary on the home front.” We thank God for his fruitful life.
The Eucharist was celebrated for him on Saturday, 7 October 2107, at 10:30 a.m., in the Münsterschwarzach Abbey Church and afterwards he was laid to rest in the monastery cemetery.
Münsterschwarzach, 7 October 2017 Abbot Michael and the monks of Münsterschwarzach
Prior Joel and the monks of Christ the King Priory
A public memorial Mass will be celebrated for Brother Vianney at Christ the King Priory, Schuyler, on Thursday, October 26, 2017, at 5: 30 p.m. RIP.