Obituary, Fr. Berno Müller OSB

FR. BERNO came into the world on 7 June 1930 in the Upper Bavarian village of Utting, Landsberg am Lech District, as the oldest child of the natural health practitioner Robert and Amalie Müller, née Vollmann. He received the name Robert at baptism. His parents gave birth to two other children. He attended the primary school in Utting and afterwards the gymnasium in Weilheim until he transferred to the mission seminary of St. Ottilien in 1945. The change to the mission seminary may have been due to his longing for Africa. At the age of 14 he had already run away from home once in order to reach Africa on his own, but was picked up at the Innsbruck train station. During his time in school he distinguished himself by his preference for music and with enthusiasm and talent he learned to play the piano and organ. On 8 September 1950, shortly after taking the university entrance exams, he entered the mission monastery of St. Ottilien After the novitiate he took his temporary vows on 10 September 1951.

During his time as a temporary professed he did his philosophy studies at the St. Ottilien College; this was followed by theology studies at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich where he consistently produced excellent results. His solemn profession took place in October 1954; he was ordained a priest on 5 August 1956 in the abbey church of St. Ottilien by Bishop Joseph Freundorfer. On 22 June 1958 he was sent to the mission territory of Ndanda Abbey. He was first assigned to the Lukuledi parish. Many other assignments followed, among them Nyangao, Mtauna and Rondo. He founded the parish of Rutumba on the Rondo Plateau. In 1979 he was transferred to Kilangala near the Indian Ocean, where he was to work for nineteen years. On his own admission this was the most beautiful time of his life. After an eighteen-year stay in this parish, he was appointed the head of the Kurasini guest house in Dar es Salaam. After four years he was able to return again to the parish of Rutumba. In 2005 he went back to Ndanda Abbey where he spent his retirement. In his pastoral work Fr. Berno showed a special concern for the youth and among other things built dormitories at each place he worked to spare the children many hours of walking to school. He had a big heart for the worries and needs of the people entrusted to him so that many sought his advice and help.

Always where he saw a hardship that could be alleviated, he was on the spot day and night. In doing this he had no regard for himself nor did he consider his health. If he believed he heard the call of God, he could be mercilessly uncompromising. Neither the abbot nor the bishop could budge him and more than once he ignored various prohibitions. Fr. Berno was also a zealous pastor. If it were a matter of proclaiming the Word of God in the main parish of Kilangala and in the 13 outstations, the furthest of which was 85 km away, he did not shy away from the effort needed. Of great help to him was the support and lively communication with his home parish in Utting and his large circle of friends and helpers. His last years were marked by physical infirmities and increasing frailty. However, he never complained about his ailments, even if it pained him that he could no longer be as active in the measure he was accustomed to and would wish.

During a home leave in the summer of 2011, he once again received comprehensive medical examinations and treatment. In spite of this, the condition of his health deteriorated shortly after his return to Ndanda. As his strength increasingly declined, he was initially admitted to Ndanda hospital on 17 November, whereupon other stays followed. When he died there peacefully, a full missionary life came to an end.