Former Abbot Primate Notker Wolf © KNA
Abbot Primate Notker Wolf © KNA
To 300.Abbot Primate Notker Wolf flies more than 000 kilometers a year. As the highest representative of all Benedictines worldwide, traveling was part of it. Now his term of office is coming to an end after 16 years.
Friday is the end. After 16 years, Notker Wolf will end his time as Abbot Primate based in Rome and thus as the highest representative of more than 20 Benedictine monasteries worldwide.000 religious, men and women, worldwide. The exhausting, albeit eventful journeys will probably not leave the 76-year-old. With 300.000 air miles a year, he could rival any internationally active manager. Now he will return to familiar, quiet surroundings, namely to the monastery of St. Ottilien. He is very familiar with the Upper Bavarian archabbey in the Landsberg am Lech district – after all, he was its archabbot from 1977 to 2000.
Some of his belongings are already there, he recently told the "Munchner Kirchenzeitung," adding, "It will be a smooth transition."He is especially happy to be with his confreres again. Agriculture there is also close to his heart, as Wolf himself used to help bring many a calf into the world. Above all, however, he hopes to have more time for music again, because it is an "excerpt of my heart".
Wolf became known to a large audience as the "rocking abbot" on the electric guitar. In the future, he wants to devote more time to the band "Feed Back," a formation made up of former students of the Ottilien High School. The flute has also accompanied him since childhood, whether for baroque melodies or "Jethro Tull" ballads.
Experience in the attic
The son of a tailor, Werner Wolf was born in 1940, the year of the war, in Bad Gronenbach in the Allgau region of Germany. The family was well Catholic, but not overly devout. As a boy he was an altar boy, but his real awakening experience was in the attic. There the high school student found a missionary booklet. The reports awakened his longing for freedom. As a missionary, he wanted to get away from his mother, who was so protective of him, and to reconcile his "intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.
With the help of the local priest, the good student made it to the high school of the Missionary Benedictines in Saint Ottilien. After graduating from high school in 1961, he entered the Order. When he chose the name "Notker", a confrere said: "For God's sake, already the fifth Notker." For four candidates before had left the archabbey again.
Archabbot at 37
The Benedictine completed his studies in philosophy at the Pontifical College of Sant'Anselmo in Rome; in Munich he enrolled in theology and the natural sciences. He received ordination to the priesthood in 1968. Two years later, Wolf taught natural philosophy at Sant'Anselmo, followed by a doctorate with a thesis on the Stoic cyclical model of the world. When a new archabbot was sought in Ottilien in 1977, the decision fell on the 37-year-old. In 2000 Rome called – and with it the responsibility for all Benedictines worldwide.
Frequent talk show guest
Difficult tasks do not frighten him. Renovating ancient Roman walls or visiting China or North Korea – Wolf makes it easy. He succeeded in building hospitals in both countries. A single moment is enough for Wolf to recover. If time remains and a bench is found somewhere, he immediately falls into deep sleep. The former abbot primate, who speaks several languages, is always a welcome guest on talk shows. His books are also read, although he caused more of a stir with his "heretical thoughts on Germany".
"Change what needs to be changed"
Wolf loves clear words and exaggerations. With Pope Francis, a new "way of thinking" has taken hold, he told the diocesan newspaper in Munster. But now the faithful are also called upon to show more personal responsibility. Whether in Rome, around the world, or soon at home, things are "going well" for Wolf. This is also the title of his new booklet with 100 of his most striking quotations. His advice: "Smile at life. And yet do not take it lightly." One should change what needs to be changed – "and with everything else it is best to make peace". Because: "Optimists shower under clouds, where others have the feeling to stand in the rain."