For weeks, there has been speculation in the media and among the faithful about when the new bishop for the diocese of Passau would finally be named. Today the wait is over. Salesian Father Stefan Oster becomes bishop.
The Salesian Stefan Oster (48) becomes new bishop of Passau. This was announced simultaneously in Passau and Rome on Friday. Father is from Amberg and was most recently a dogmatics professor at the Philosophical-Theological University of Benediktbeuern in Upper Bavaria. Oster will be the youngest German diocesan bishop and second religious in the German Bishops’ Conference.
The bishop’s consecration and inauguration will take place on 24 April. May in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Passau. A first official reception of the future bishop in his diocese is scheduled for 10. April planned. His path would lead him first to the Marian shrine of Altotting and then to St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Passau, it was said.
Oster said he initially reacted to the appointment with an emotional dichotomy between great honor and respect for the new task. "But I trust that the Lord God already knows what he is doing."The fact that the people of Passau are looking forward to their new bishop is a great help to him. At the same time, however, it was not easy for him to leave Benediktbeuern. There he experienced with many humans that church is young and has this future.
The Passau bishop’s chair was vacant for an unusually long time. Already on 1. October 2012, the pope had accepted the resignation of Bishop Wilhelm Schraml, but at the same time appointed him as interim administrator of the diocese. In this function, Schraml (78) led the diocese with its approximately 490.000 Catholics until September last year.
Oster is a latecomer. After graduating from high school in 1984, the Upper Palatinate native initially trained as a newspaper and radio editor and also worked as a journalist for two years. From 1988 he studied philosophy, history and religious studies in Regensburg, Kiel and at the English universities of Keele and Oxford. In 1995, he joined the Salesian order of Don Bosco, which specializes in youth work. Afterwards he studied theology in Benediktbeuern and was ordained priest in 2001.
Award-winning philosophical dissertation
After a prize-winning philosophical dissertation at the University of Augsburg, Oster habilitated in Trier in 2009 under the then dogmatics professor Rudolf Voderholzer, now Bishop of Regensburg. This engaged him last year for the program commission of the Regensburg Catholic Day, which takes place at the end of May.
Last summer, the Salesian University in Benediktbeuern discontinued its teaching activities, thus also ending Oster’s project there. Most recently, the theologian was instrumental in the conception of a new course of study for religion teachers and parish assistants, which is to be offered in Benediktbeuern by the Catholic Foundation University of Applied Sciences in Munich starting in fall.
Oster has a talent that has not been seen in episcopal circles before: he can juggle. With artistic interludes in the clown costume, which the 48-Jahrige combines with spiritual lectures, the order man impressed already on citizen celebrations and catholic congresses.