Fr Roland Maurer: Blacktown’s German Shepherd

How did a priest from the Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart become a chaplain in Western Sydney?
Fr Roland Maurer, Chaplain to the German Catholic Community, Sydney. Photo: Jordan Grantham

By Jordan Grantham

Fr Roland Maurer is chaplain to St Raphael’s German Catholic Community in Western Sydney.

To watch a video of Fr Roland Maurer, click here.

How did a priest from the Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart and University of Tubingen graduate become a chaplain in Blacktown, Western Sydney?

Fr Maurer laughs, as he does often, and explains his story.

Fr Roland Maurer is chaplain to St Raphael’s German Catholic Community. Photo: Jordan Grantham.

Germans are renowned for their organisational prowess but some things seem unusual to Australians.

In Germany, the third year of seminarians’ formation is spent outside the seminary, “to get to experience life,” Fr Maurer explained.

He chose to spend that third year in Australia, as if he was a normal student. His initial reaction to Australia in 1989 was: “I love it,” he grins.

He was ordained in 1995 and served for four years as assistant priest and then passed the examination required to become a parish priest in Germany.

In his home Diocese, each of his parish appointments was the equivalent of three parishes, with several churches in each parish.

Fr Maurer then applied to come to Sydney, as Chaplain to the German-speaking community, arriving in 2012. There are also Chaplains to the German communities in Melbourne, Canberra and Adelaide.

Together, they are part of the ‘Ausland Seelsorge’, the Overseas Pastoral Care department of the German Bishops Conference, an international organisation in the German Catholic Church.

It provides pastoral care to Germans and German-speakers around the globe, with close to 100 chaplains worldwide.

St Raphael’s Community is part of the “Asia-Australia Deanery”, which provides chaplains in Adelaide, Canberra and Melbourne, as well as Indonesia, India, and other South East Asian countries.

Today, Fr Maurer has an Aboriginal chasuble, which he brings it out for special occasions. “The Germans love it,” he said.

Fr Maurer also wears the palmtree of Tubingen as a pin on his lapel. He studied at Tubingen, one of Germany’s most famous and respected universities.

Pope Benedict XVI (2005- 2013) was a professor at the University of Tübingen in the late 1960s, a place that others describe as a theological turning point for the young ‘theological superstar’.

The German community had a special attachment to Pope Benedict XVI, as the first German Pope in almost 500 years.

Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis told Vanity Fair that hearing then Cardinal Ratzinger preach was: “the first time in my life that I heard somebody speak who was lit up by the Holy Spirit.”

Referring to Pope Benedict XVI’s abdication, Fr Maurer points out that the difficulty of whether Popes can retire had been dealt with 600 years ago at the Council of Constance in Germany.

All three claimants to the Papacy abdicated for the good of the Church, in order to end the Western Schism.

Humility also informs Fr Maurer’s vocation as Chaplain of the German Catholic Community. He quotes 1 Peter 4:11 to explain the essence of his role:

“As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who utters oracles of God; whoever renders service, as one who renders it by the strength which God supplies; in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

To watch a video of Fr Roland Maurer, click here.

 

 

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