God is love.
Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. (1 John 4, 16)
Born 25th January, 1942
Ordained July 8, 1967
Deceased January 8, 2015
Totally unexpected Father Franz Brügger died suddenly in the early afternoon of the 8th January 2015. He was surrounded by confreres of Schoenstatt Fathers of the Province House on Mount Sion, Vallendar, Germany.
He was a member of the Caritas patris familia Sion course and a co-founding member of the Secular Institute of Fathers.
Even as a young man Father Brügger came to completely identify himself with Schoenstatt founder’s Father Joseph Kentenich and the Movement’s spirituality.
Following his ordination to the priesthood in the summer of 1967 after serving time a curate he was Assistant for ten years to the Schoenstatt boys and young men movement in Germany.
Together with the Brothers of Mary and the youth he came to build the Youth Centre on the Marienberg in Vallendar. He was also a vital promoter of the students’ movement at tertiary level, gave conferences and organized national students’ pilgrimage to Schoenstatt.
He motivated priest-poet Wilhelm Willms and the composer Ludger Edelkötter to produce the musical “Wagnis und Liebe” (Risk and Love); this musical was about the life of Father Kentenich and his foundation of the movement.
He assisted the Schoenstatt Movement’s involvement in the preparation and accomplishment of the Katholikentag, the All-German bi-annual Catholic Congress in Germany, and in particular the young people’s presence and exhibitions as major and permanent feature at such Congresses. A particular accomplishment for Father Brügger was the pilgrimage aboard boats at the 1982 Düsseldorf Catholic gathering, when some 4000 young people on eight white-painted boats of the Cologne-Dusseldorf Rowing Club prayed and sang on pilgrimage to Our Lady of Benrath.
Following the conclusion as assistant to the youth apostolate he re-directed his pastoral efforts from 1988 until his death towards families. Among the areas he assisted with for four years was in the Department of Marriage and Family Life of Essen Diocese.
Parallel to his activities in Germany he began, after twelve month’s work in Texas, developing the Schoenstatt Movement in England and Scotland. He also invested much effort and time in the founding of the Schoenstatt Fathers in the Indian states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Bangalore. He came to assist the rapid development of the community in these areas. A memorable decision of his while Provincial Superior of the Sion Province was the commencement towards independence of the community of Schoenstatt Fathers in India. A golden peacock feather on the Marian altar in the Province House chapel expresses the gratitude for this achievement. He was also involved in insuring the continuation of the Schoenstatt Fathers’ community in Nigeria.
Franz Johannes Brügger grew up in Bottrop in the Ruhr Region. He was the fourth of eight children, and his parents were co-founders of the Schoenstatt Secular Institute of Families. His mother died when he was 16 years old. Following his widowed father’s second marriage his stepmother became a firm supporter of his future life.
As an adolescent Franz was associated with the Schoenstatt young men of Essen Diocese. Following his matriculation from high school he came into contact with a group of theology students who were working towards the eventual founding of the Secular Institute of Schoenstatt Fathers.
After conclusion of his theology and philosophy studies Franz Johannes Brügger, together with two other confreres, was ordained as priest by Auxiliary Bishop Heinrich Tenhumberg of Münster, Germany. Father Joseph Kentenich was present at this ordination. The newly ordained priest, Father Franz, was appointed as a curate for three years to the parish of Herten-Scherlebeck, Münster.
After his year in Texas he returned to Germany to assist with the young men’s branch and developed the students’ movement. Later he directed his various international commitments to the Schoenstatt Family Movement. For 25 years he was active among families in dioceses of Aachen, Essen, Münster, Osnabrück and Paderborn.
“He guided many families, took initiative in the diocese, was an intensive listener and brought issues to conclusions. I am of the personal opinion, the families were most dear to his heart. I was always astonished over the past few years with what energy he nudged the family movement forward.” (An associate)
Time and again during the past ten years his leadership qualities were enlisted by the Fathers’ community. From 2003 to 2009 he was the Superior of the Sion Province of the Schoenstatt Fathers and thereby responsible for confreres in Germany, England, Scotland, Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic and India.
As representative of the Schoenstatt communities he engaged in a determined manner with the Society of the Pallottines in respect of the transfer of the Original Shrine to the Schoenstatt Movement. This determination resulted in the concluding “crowning” of the Pallottines presenting the Original Shrine to the Movement for the 100th jubilee anniversary of Schoenstatt.
Once again Father Brügger took on pastoral work among families. In addition to this, he was appointed by the General Council as a personal delegate of the General Superior, Father Heinrich Walter, to discuss and advise on activities and progress of confreres in India.
In the middle of this God spoke his “Amen” to the life and activities of Father Franz Johannes Brügger and called him to share in eternal light. His confreres and many people thank God for Father Brügger.
Vallendar-Schönstatt, Mount Sion January 15, 2015
P. Theo Breitinger Provincial