Bishop Nicholas Hudson celebrated a farewell Mass for Fr Christian Dieckmann on 15th July 2017. Fr Christian will be returning to his order in Germany.
Referring to parishes such as St Boniface in the heart of a city, Bishop Nicholas said in his homily:
‘Ever since his first year as Pope, Pope Francis has stressed the need for us to be more evangelizing. Many of the churches I have served have been, like St Boniface, located in town or city centres. Worshipping in a city centre church leads one to reflect on what it means to ‘be Church’ in the heart of the city.
‘He makes the point that it is interesting that the goal towards which the whole of humanity, according to the Bible, is moving is a city, the heavenly city, which Scripture calls the New Jerusalem. He calls all of us who live in the city to be above all contemplative; to look at the city with a contemplative gaze, the gaze of faith which sees God dwelling there in its homes, its streets, its squares.
‘He suggests cities, because they know the struggles of life, often have a deeply religious sense. He notes also the many deadly realities which we encounter in the city: corruption, abuse, human trafficking, abandonment – and says we need to speak the Word of Life to each of these situations.'
In a tribute to Fr Christian’s years of service, Bishop Nicholas said the following at the end of the Mass:
‘Father Christian will be much missed! In the six years that he has been in Adler Street, he has made his mark on the City of London; and will be a loss to the Diocese of Westminster. As Bishop with responsibility for Ethnic Chaplains, I was particularly grateful to Fr Christian for his support of and contribution to that group. He was also a faithful attender of the local Deanery of Catholic clergy. He will be missed not only by his neighbouring Catholic clergy but also by neighbouring communities - local German-speaking Protestant churches and the Jewish community.
‘One did not need to know Fr Christian long before one discovered he was a Benedictine monk. He exemplified the tradition of Benedictine hospitality through the warm welcome extended to diverse groups and individuals. His monthly evening prayer-times, “Ora et Pakora”, have enriched the lives of many city workers. Every visitor, from the very young to the elderly, was made to feel equally at home. His interest and enthusiasm encouraged many individuals to feel a part of Saint Boniface’s. Significant was the testimony of one parishioner who told me how much she had been helped by Fr Christian’s communication of a close relationship with the loving God.
‘Fr Christian leaves to his successor a thriving community, with deep foundations for his successor to build upon. I look forward to seeing St Boniface’s continue to grow from strength to strength. Meanwhile, I would wish to assure Fr Christian that his memory will live on in the City of London and that he leaves us with gratitude for his ministry among us and the assurance of our prayers for his return to monastic life.’
Canon John O’Toole (back row, right) of Southwark Archdiocese, the former Ethnic Chaplaincies Coordinator, and Fr Victor Camilleri OFM (front row, right), the Maltese Chaplain, also helped celebrate the Mass (pictured above with Bishop Nicholas, Fr Christian and two altar servers).