Catechism in German-Russian

Katechismus in Deustch-Russich

Schmidt, Barbara. "Catechism in German-Russian." Volk auf dem Weg, December 2004, 4.

Translation from German to American English by Alex Herzog, Boulder, Colorado

Father Eugen Reinhardt
Prelate Dr. Wolfgang Grocholl

Koenigstein. "Today there is hardly a community in which you will not find a German from Russia," according to Father Reinhardt, who speaks from experience. The Inspector of the German Conference of Bishops has been active on behalf of the Late Aussiedler for 14 years.

In 1988/1989, after the great changes in Russia, emigration to Germany became much more feasible than ever before for Germans living in Russia, so the bishops searched for a German-Russian priest who could handle the assignment [of taking care of them spiritually]. "They found me in the Philippines," recounts the 69-year-old. Ever since then his place of work has been the central office for the "Spiritual Care of Germans from Russia" in Koenigstein. Father Reinhardt himself was born in Strassburg near Odessa, at a time when there were still German settlements in that area. While he, along with his mother and siblings, was able to escape to South Germany ("Nobody was allowed to stay. All had to head "home to the Reich."), those who were overtaken during the escape -- just because they were of German ancestry -- were destined to suffer under severely repressive conditions. This fact, says Father Reinhardt, is just as unfamiliar in Germany as the fact that increased [Russian] nationalism caused great problems for the Germans in Russia.

Anxiliary Bishop Pieschl (center) at the celebration of his 25 years as bishop, in the Cathedral of Limburg, pictured with Bishop Franz Kamphaus (left) and Anxiliary Bishop Johannes Kapp of Fulda (right).

This caretaker of souls therefore finds it a very important task to help explain the history of the Germans in the Soviet Union. In various ways he has spent much effort on that task during the past years. The exhibition "Catholic Aussiedler among us" is as much part of that as his frequent publications and participation in church conventions.

During the course of the 14 years of his activity, the problems to which his care of souls are to react, have changed much. "The generation arriving today is completely different from the one before it," explains Reinhardt. They have obviously less knowledge of the German language, which makes it very difficult for them to feel "at home" with the community and in church services. One remedy the Koenigstein office for the care of souls effected was to publish materials for catechesis and inserts to prayer books in both German and in Russian. Form this office on Gerichtsstrasse 17, one can also obtain a catechism and the New Testament in German/Russian form. According to Reinhardt and his colleague, Dr. Wendelin Mangold, himself a Late Aussiedler, very great. And Reinhardt is convinced that linguistic hurdles can also be overcome with the help of those Aussiedler who have been in Germany for some time. But this situation is problematic, due to lack of people approaching people, and encouragement, and besides, these Germans are by nature "very reserved and shy." Reinhardt recognizes the special challenge in the trend showing that the younger generation of Late Aussiedler appears to be less connected to faith and church. Another problem he sees is that "[other-faith] sects are very active here."

Anxiliary Bishop Pieschl is responsible for the concerns of the Late Aussiedler in the Limburg Diocese. All dioceses have appointed a representative of this kind, and the Koenigstein office for "Care of Souls of the Germans from Russia" maintains close contact with them. Savings in costs is not the only reason Reinhardt sees increased cooperation with these contacts as a "positive development." He himself ended his service in Koenigstein in August, 2004 and will return to his former place of activity, the Philippines. A successor to his position, he says, has yet to be found.

(From: "Der Sonntag [Sunday]," Ecclesiastical newspaper for the Diocese of Limburg, Limburg, Germany, August 29, 2004, Number 35.)

Our appreciation is extended to Alex Herzog for translation of this article.

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