A sign of hope: Reutberg is happy about the third novice in three years.
Sister Maria Pia was dressed on Saturday.
– Five years ago, dark clouds gathered over Reutberg Abbey.
At the time, everything indicated that the Archbishop's Ordinariate would close the facility.
Only two nuns lived in the building at the time, and there were no women in sight to take over.
But now more and more sunbeams are breaking through the cloud cover.
And that in two senses: On Saturday afternoon, Solveig Faustmann celebrated her investiture and entry into her novitiate in the monastery church.
Thanks to her, the Sachsenkamer religious community now has three "apprentices" in its ranks.
After the impression in the service, Faustmann, who is now called Sister Maria Pia, should also provide sunshine inside the monastery walls.
Sister Benedicta Tschugg cut the novice's hair
The novice beamed throughout the service.
She beamed when her sister Benedicta Tschugg cut off her dark blonde curls and presented her with a white cap, veil and wreath of flowers.
She beamed as she donned the habit, habit and black scapular.
Her radiance became even more intense when an unmanageably long chain of people formed in the corridor of the monastery who wanted to congratulate her on being accepted into the novitiate.
Clothing: Pastor Richard Kocher, spiritual director Andreas Wanka and Solveig Faustmann (from left).
Maria Pia shook hands, chatted a few words with each of the 100 or so guests – and beamed.
"I wasn't really aware that I was beaming for two hours," the novice later told our newspaper.
But there are good reasons for this: "I've been there for a year, I know that I want to continue - it's a pleasure to be able to show it publicly for the first time."
"What is happening here is oversized by German standards"
Sister Benedicta didn't show her emotions so openly, but she didn't want to resist a smile either: "What's happening here is oversized by German standards," she says.
“We have three sisters in training here within three years.
That's crazy for such a small, funky monastery.
We don't distribute flyers, and we don't have our own website either.” The fact that there are now three serious applicants is “God's work”.
After the postulancy and the two-year novitiate, which Maria Pia is now completing, she continues with her temporary profession, which usually lasts at least three years.
The only nun who has perpetual profession is Sister Faustina, who has been living in Reutberg Monastery for 30 years.
How does a woman from Graz get to Reutberg?
There is a long history, answers Maria Pia.
Even as a child, she had wanted to become a nun.
She always kept this thought in the back of her mind: "But there are many dreams in life that you don't realize."
Under her name Solveig Faustmann she spent her childhood and youth in Graz.
Then she went to Frankfurt and to Berg Schoenstatt on the Rhine.
She worked in church administration and at a television station.
"Over time I've become more and more religious," says the 49-year-old, who jokingly describes herself as a "learned German".
Among other things, she undertook pilgrimages to Medjugorje (Bosnia-Herzegovina).
The "highlight" was her job at the private Christian broadcaster "Radio Horeb" in Balderschwang near Oberstdorf: Faustmann was responsible for public relations, visited parishes throughout Germany and was responsible for broadcasting the Holy Masses - including from the monastery Reutberg.
Desire for solitude grew
"The six years shaped me a lot, it was just great there," says Maria Pia.
"We were a good community there, almost half a monastery." Many of the 70 employees are "very religious", everyone was able to attend a mass every day.
The program director, the former Bad Heilbrunn pastor Richard Kocher, became their leading figure.
Her desire for solitude grew stronger and stronger.
Every month she took a long weekend to retire.
She was particularly fascinated by the story of Nikolaus von der Flühe, the patron saint of Switzerland: “He was happily married and had ten children.
Then he asked his wife to be allowed to say goodbye so that he could be there for God.” He settled in the Ranft Gorge, just a few minutes from his house,
lived as a hermit and led an intense prayer life.
Various miracles are attributed to Nikolaus von der Flühe.
She also has a "penchant for silence," says the 49-year-old.
In September 2021, a priest recommended that she visit the Reutberg monastery: "I didn't know that until then," says the native of Graz, adding with a laugh: "We only know the bull from Tölz".
What followed was a "pretty quick love story".
She lived as a single for a long time and enjoyed dividing her free time as she wanted.
"But here I noticed that life here in community has more substance."
New way: Before she becomes a novice, Solveig Faustmann has her hair cut off.
She entered the monastery in March 2022 and celebrated her novitiate on Saturday.
There is now a fixed daily routine.
The day starts at 5:30 am and ends at 8:30 pm.
There is prayer seven times a day: “I am happy that I can pray here so often,” says Maria Pia.
"Outside there was often the conflict that I had to work long hours before I had time for prayer again." There is also enough time for housework and gardening and looking after the small animals in the monastery.
Maria Pia is also supposed to bring the library in the monastery into shape.
Last but not least, a qualified church musician from Sachsenkam teaches her how to play the organ: "I'm incredibly happy that I can learn it."
Hugs are still allowed
The 49-year-old now has to learn, for example, how to behave: “I specifically asked the superior whether it was compatible with the dignity of a nun that I hug people.
She replied that I can hug the people I've hugged before.” And in her case, that's quite a lot – her family and the employees of Radio Horeb.
"We were always very cordial with each other," says Maria Pia.
She feels that she is now in Reutberg Monastery “as a calling from God: We stand up for the monastery and want it to have a future.
It is a pleasure to work with “that Reutberg Monastery will become something again.
And it's nice to invest in something that has hope.” She hopes that more novices will join them – “but of course we're keeping our feet on the ground.” Sister Benedicta is cautious: “You know whether the convent has a future probably only in ten years for sure." But there are legitimate signs of hope: "If you consider where we were five years ago and where we are now, you have to say: That was not to be expected."
You can find even more current news from the region around at Merkur.de/Bad Tölz.