GERMANY, Editorial team •
Pope Francis has appointed the Auxiliary Bishop of Freiburg, Dr Michael Gerber (48) the new Bishop of Fulda. This was announced simultaneously on Thursday (13.12) in Rome, Fulda and Freiburg. As a result Michael Gerber becomes the successor of Bishop Heinz-Josef Algermissen, whose resignation after seventeen years in office in Fulda was accepted on 5 June by Pope Francis. Michael Gerber, who is a member of the Institute of Schoenstatt Diocesan Priests, thus becomes the youngest bishop of a German diocese. —
In his first reaction after the announcement of his election as Bishop by the Fulda Cathedral Chapter, the newly elected bishop thanked everyone who had borne, and still bear, responsibility for the diocese of Fulda in the past years, “Above all my predecessor, Bishop Heinz-Josef Algermissen and with him the many committed people who are active in various ways in the diocese. I am looking forward to getting to know you.” At the same time he does not find it easy to leave so much behind that has become so precious to him in the past years in Freiburg. “I have accompanied so many people who have enriched my life so much, and who have decisively shaped my self-understanding as priest and bishop in the Church today. I am very grateful to you all. You have added much to my luggage, which I now take with me to Fulda”, the newly appointed bishop said.
Rooted in the Archdiocese
Michael Gerber was born in 1970 in Oberkirch. He grew up in a Catholic family, and throughout his schooling he was active as an altar server, group leader and parish group leader in the Church’s youth work. After his Abitur he studied theology in Freiburg and the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He visited South America (Chile and Bolivia) on a number of occasions, and speaks Spanish, English and Italian. After a practical semester in Bietigheim near Rastatt (1992/1993), and a pastoral year in Ettlingen (Parish of the Sacred Heart) and in Völkersbach (Parish of St George – 1995/1996), he was ordained deacon in 1996. The then Archbishop Oskar Saier ordained Gerber to the priesthood on 11 May 1997. From 1997-1999 Gerber was Assistant Priest in Malsch near Ettlingen where he was mainly active in youth work (KJG, altar servers).
Style of leadership: Collaboration in various services and offices
From 1999 to 2001 Michael Gerber was head of pastoral care of students at Freiburg-Littenweiler and began his dissertation in the field of pastoral theology – graduating as Doctor of Theology (“magna cum laude”) in the summer of 2007. From 2001 Gerber acted a dean in the Freiburg Theological College (Collegium Borromaeum), initially for the period of studies, later (following the amalgamation of the theological college with the seminary) with responsibility for pastoral formation after the completion of studies and introduction to the task of assistant priest. In 2011 he was appointed by Archbishop Zollitsch as rector of the seminary.
In 2013 Michael Gerber was appointed Titular Bishop of Migirpa and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Freiburg by Pope Francis, and was consecrated Bishop on 8 September 2013 by Archbishop Dr Robert Zollitsch. He is Episcopal Vicar for communities and people of consecrated life, spiritual communities and movements, as well as for pastoral formation and counselling.
Since September 2013 Michael Gerber has worked in the Commission for Spiritual Professions and Ecclesiastical Services of the German Bishops’ Conference. In addition, he is a member of the Youth Commission of the German Bishops’ Conference. On behalf of both commissions he is the contact bishop for the AG Permanent Diaconate in Germany, the German Boy Scouts of St George and the Girl Scouts of St George.
Cross-country skier – mountain hiker – active in Schoenstatt Movement
In his free time Michael Gerber is an enthusiastic cross-country skier. In summer he likes to be in the mountains. He often spends his holidays with friends in Valais. He is also often out and about on his bike.
Michael Gerber finds an important foundation for his service in the spirituality of the Schoenstatt Movement, in which he was active already during his school years and studies.
In his youth Michael Gerber received important incentives, and during his studies joined the “Schoenstatt Institute of Diocesan Priests”. From 2005 until his episcopal consecration he was part of the five-member team of leaders of his international community of priests.
Our sincere congratulations to the new Bishop and wishing him every blessing on his task in the Fulda Diocese.
What motivates Michael Gerber:
There has to be a “glowing core” in the Church, in its individual parts and in the parishes.
Original German, 13.12.2018. Translation: Mary Cole, Manchester, UK