German – Austria


Fr. Karl Peinhopf

The first Comboni House of what would become the Comboni German-Speaking Province was opened in Brixen (in Austria) in 1895 for candidates of German language. Just before I World War, half of the members of the Comboni Congregation came from Italy, hail spoke either German or a Slovene language. During and after the War, the Comboni missionaries of German origin were forbidden by the British government to work in British colonies in Africa (Sudan, Uganda and Egypt), so they opened missions in South Africa. For this and other reasons. in 1923 the Vatican decided to divide the Comboni Congregation into two branches: Italian and German. At that moment, the German group had 4 communities in Europe and some missions in South Africa.

Other communities were opened in Germany, Austria and in some eastern European countries. In 1938, the German Comboni missionaries began missionary work in Peru. in 1944, the branch had 224 confreres. The II World War was a veritable blow for the German branch: almost all its members were enrolled in the army; 30 of them were killed in battle; others abandoned the congregation. For 10 years it was impossible to have any contact with confreres working in the missions. In 1961, the members of the branch were 230.

ln 1979, the two branches joined to become, once again, one congregation. Since then, all the Comboni houses of German language formed the Comboni German Province. The number of vacations diminished drastically. The minor seminaries were closed. in 1990 also the Novitiate was closed. in 2008, was the turn of the Scholasticate. New initiatives were launched. A community was opened in Halle, in the former East Germany, where only 5% of the population considered themselves Catholic, but in 2004 the community was closed for lack of personnel. in the following years, other communities were closed.

At present, Comboni missionaries in the German Speaking Province (38 priests and 16 brothers) are committed to missionary animation of the local churches, to welcoming immigrants from Africa and Middle East, to providing young people the possibility of having missionary experiences in the various Comboni missions around the world. and to offering financial support to development projects in she various provinces of the institute.

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