Benedictine Abbey Admont - Father Egon Rosarium © Thomas Sattler

Finding a good path together

FINDING A GOOD PATH TOGETHER 

 

Father Egon Homann has been a priest for thirty years and counsellor. He sees himself as a mediator,  because "pastoral care means caring for people in to be there for them in every life situation and to offer help that comes from God," says the Benedictine monk.

Ora et labora et lege. This is the rule of St Benedict, who, in addition to prayer and the study of the Holy Scriptures, also focussed on work. The tasks derived from this are found in many areas: Education, social affairs, culture and administration are just four examples of those subject areas to which Admont's Benedictine monks dedicate themselves. Father Egon Homann has found his vocation in pastoral care. Since 2002, in addition to his five parishes, he has also been in charge of the "Haus der Begegnung" and the "Münzgrabenheim" in Graz. He works there as a chaplain to students. In this interview, Fr Egon talks about the changing nature of pastoral care, social commitment and spiritual guidance.

 

The Benedictine monastery of Admont celebrates its 950th anniversary in 2024. A period of time in which not only the monastery but also pastoral care was able to develop further?

Pastoral care is an area that grew enormously during this time. In the early years and for a long time afterwards, the monks did not leave the monastery. 

Pastoral care could therefore only take place within the monastery walls. Today, we look after 26 parishes, the House of Encounter and the Münzgrabenheim in Graz and are therefore close to the people. 

 

Pastoral care no longer only takes place behind the monastery walls. Are there changes in terms of content as well as local flexibility?

Pastoral care has become more human. Just like confession. In the past, the understanding of sin was admittedly different and confession was usually a long list of everything that didn't work. Today, counsellors have conversations about life. We examine it from different perspectives and also emphasise what is going well. In this way, we try to find a good path together.

 

You are in charge of two student facilities. What does this task involve?

The Admont Benedictine Abbey runs the House of Encounter in Graz so that young people can experience Benedictine spirituality. I am on site to celebrate church services and offer pastoral care and confessions. Good conversations also arise in the course of lectures and joint excursions. I also provide this spiritual support in the Münzgrabenheim. 

Admont Benedictine Abbey - Father Egon in front of Admont Abbey Church © Thomas Sattler

You are also the pastor of five parishes. How does the pastoral care that you provide for the people in the parish work?

Pastoral care in parishes is changing. In the past, people relied purely on the parish priest, the nuns and the pastoral assistants. Today, every single member of the parish community is crucial for pastoral care to work. When many committed people work together, this also opens up completely new approaches to solving problems. Parish Caritas is the best example of this. Volunteers help people in their immediate neighbourhood and can make a really big difference through their voluntary work.

 

Your social commitment also extends beyond your professional activities. How do you help on a voluntary basis?

I am a member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. We support our members in their faith and help Christians in the Holy Land to find a livelihood. In addition to collecting donations, we try to organise various activities to provide Christians with a secure income. Ultimately, I think there are countless opportunities to do good if you are prepared to look beyond your own nose and recognise the needs of others. 

 

Do priests sometimes need counselling? 

Yes, of course. Pastoral care for priests has become extremely important in today's world. I have met many priests outside the monastery who are lonely and have resigned their ministry. I've been a priest for over thirty years, but I've never been lonely. As a Benedictine, you are part of a community that supports each other and is always there when you need someone to talk to. There are more and more tasks that can only be done outside the monastery. So it's nice to know that there is a place we can always return to. A place that is our home.

 

Benedictine Abbey Admont - Father Egon Rosarium © Thomas Sattler
Benedictine Abbey Admont - Father Egon Rosarium © Thomas Sattler
Benedictine Abbey Admont - Father Egon © Thomas Sattler
Benedictine Abbey Admont - Father Egon Abbey Church Admont © Thomas Sattler
Benedictine Abbey Admont - Father Egon herb garden © Thomas Sattler