Born:  1959
Professed:  November 29, 1986
Hometown:  Noerdlingen, Germany
Monastery Work:  Administrator of St. Benedict Center, Monastic Vocation & Formation Director

I was born and raised in Noerdlingen, Germany, and quite active in my home parish, Holy Savior.  Interested in serving the Church, I studied philosophy and theology, but found my vocation only while working at Muensterschwarzach Abbey, our motherhouse.  I was impressed by the monks, their openness, their good sense of humor, and their breadth of mind and heart.  I participated in their regular prayer times, attended several retreats directed by monks, and gradually realized that sharing their rhythm of prayer and work had a balancing and calming effect on me.

I entered and after my formation as a monk, was sent to Tanzania, East Africa, for missionary work.  There, at the Abbey of Ndanda and with some of the world’s poorest people, I spent six very enriching and fulfilling years.  I enjoyed the people’s immense hospitality, their gentleness, their ability to live in the present moment and to celebrate for hours and hours.  I was involved in youth ministry, worked with the young farmers, and taught elementary school.  I also helped with the training and formation of the native Tanzanian monks.  As Benedictines, we do missionary work in community.  The mentoring of seasoned brother monks helped me a lot to find my place in this culture so different from my own.

My stay in Tanzania was interrupted by two years of study at St. Louis University in St. Louis, MO, where I graduated with an M.A. in Religious Studies.  This program made it possible to take all the classes that I still needed before ordination to the priesthood; I was ordained a priest during this period in 1992.

In 1997, a new chapter of my life began as I was assigned to Christ the King Priory in Schuyler, NE.  I was asked to assist with the retreat ministry at the newly opened St. Benedict Center.  Since 1998, I have had the privilege to run this beautiful facility.  I enjoy taking care of our guests, giving retreats and offering the ministry of spiritual direction.   At a place like this, people have some distance from the many distractions of everyday life and find it easier to listen to God.  St. Benedict calls upon us to receive all guests like Christ.  At St. Benedict Center we strive to put this directive into practice.

In the spring of 2018, it was a joy and a privilege for me to travel to Ndanda Abbey in Tanzania/East Africa. The occasion was an international conference of monastic formation directors. I had, at the same time, the opportunity to meet my brother monks with whom I had lived and worked for six years in the early 1990’s. I got to know many Tanzanian monks whom I had not seen yet because they had joined after I had left; they carry on our work now. I experienced joyful encounters with many parishioners in the parishes in which I was stationed. Also, I could visit various projects that our friends in the US have supported through the Benedictine Mission House and that are now very helpful and beneficial for the local population. Here is my dairy:

How do you connect with Benedict?

Benedict is the man of balance: between prayer and work, between enclosure and openness, between stability—of place and of heart—and conversion, and between individual and community. Benedict teaches us to prefer nothing to prayer and yet wants us to earn our livelihood. He wants us monks to have our own living space and yet to receive all guests like Christ. Benedict calls us to sticking it out with one another at the same place, yet he doesn’t want us to stand still, rather to grow in wholeness and holiness. He invites each monk to cultivate his own relationship with God and to grow into it. At the same time he knows that Christ leads us all together to life everlasting. Letting Benedict teach me how to live this balance is a great blessing for me and for everyone with accepts Benedict’s call into “the school of the Lord’s service” (Rule, Prologue 45).
— Fr. Thomas

Meet Fr. Thomas Video