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“Christmas is Our High Time!”: Change in the university chaplaincy team

The pastors Rudolf Koller and Hans-Jürgen Wiedow formed the university chaplaincy together since 2010. In the meantime, Pastor Wiedow has left Hof. In his place, vicar Sebastian Schiller from Münchberg has now been entrusted with the task at Hof University. In an interview with Campuls-digital, Rudolf Koller, parish priest at the Hospitalkirche in Hof, gives an insight into the work of the university chaplaincy and takes a look back at what has been achieved so far.

Pastor Rudolf Koller of the Hospitalkirche in Hof has been part of the university chaplaincy since 2010; photo: private;

Rev. Koller, together with Rev. Wiedow, you have been providing interdenominational pastoral care at both of Hof’s universities since 2010. What kind of people turn to you?

It happens from time to time that students seek to talk to us because they have personal or other concerns. But in our network of contacts with student representatives, administration and lecturers, many spontaneous conversations also arise during meetings. Often it is also a matter of very practical help: We were able to arrange financial aid from the ecumenical emergency fund for foreign students who – especially in Corona times – found themselves in financial difficulties.

Many people are leaving churches in this country, while church and faith are booming in Africa and large parts of Asia. But of course, leaving doesn’t necessarily say anything about religious beliefs. How do you experience this among students? Does faith still play a role?

Faith always plays a role! The question is whether faith has a Christian face! Students from the HföD bring their, especially Christian traditions from all over Bavaria and the HföD promotes this tradition. For the graduation ceremony after 3 years of study there has always been a large festive service in St. Konrad before the graduation ceremony in the Freiheitshalle

…this does not exist at the University of Applied Sciences…

No. At Hof University, the situation is different – let’s call it “multicultural”. It is all the more gratifying that our gift tree campaign has found and continues to find great support from all sides since its introduction in 2013. This also applies to students of other religions, as well as to lecturers and administrative staff.

What support can one find in faith – for example, especially during studies?

In three words: faith, love, hope! The belief that a person is much more than his or her performance. Through faith, you can find out where a person’s heart is. And for me, it’s essential: if you believe, you can look forward to every new day, because everything will be good one day!

Again and again you try to reach people with events and to get into conversation..

Of course. In the last decade, we have held exhibitions, organized lectures, or simply provided a cozy get-together. The “Church, Art and Pub” events were permanent fixtures before Corona and hopefully will be again soon. I am grateful that the transition from Pastor Wiedow to Vicar Sebastian Schiller went so smoothly. Through my new colleague, the university chaplaincy is also getting new impulses.

Parochial vicar Sebastian Schiller from Münchberg takes over the position from Hans-Jürgen Wiedow. Picture: private;

Christmas, the greatest feast of Christianity, is not far away: Do you also notice this in your work at the university?

This is also the “high time” of our work here! The preparation and implementation of the gift tree campaign is rolling along, the contacting of students and administration is picking up speed, and of course the concrete event planning also wants to be taken care of. As in the family, the preparation for the celebration in the university chaplaincy also means having to think of many things at first. But with each passing day, the anticipation of the festival grows.

How can you be reached?
The best way is via Hochschulseelsorge-hof@gmx.de or also via our social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram. Of course, you can also pick up the phone directly at: Tel. 09281 / 706787.

Thank you for the interview and have a blessed Advent season!

Rainer Krauß

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