To Live and To Form Society as Laity in the World
Death and life go hand in hand. This reality hits close to home in times of coronavirus, and even more so when you must announce a death on Christmas Eve. The community of the Schoenstatt Brothers of Mary announced on December 24th that their Superior General, Ernest Maria Kanzler, passed away on December 23rd, 2020 in a clinic in Koblenz, Germany from a recently diagnosed cancer.
January 1st, 2021 - Author: Heinrich Brehm
Ernest Maria Kanzler was born on July 31st, 1949, the second son, in Krumbach, Germany. His parents came from Hungary from which they were expelled. The family finally found a new home in Allmannsweiler, close to Friedrichshafen, where Ernest went to school. From 1964 to 1967, he learned the craft of making tools at Zahnradfabrik Friedrichshafen. From 1968 on, he attended the Collegium Ambrosianum of Stuttgart, Germany, an institution of the Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, which allows young people who have completed their vocational training to catch up with their final exams. In 1972, he obtained his high school diploma.
His way in Schoenstatt
Ernest was active in the Schoenstatt Male Youth of his diocese since 1962. In 1968, he decided to be part of the Schoenstatt Youth Federation. After completing his school education with a high school diploma, he entered the Secular Institute of the Schoenstatt Brothers of Mary in the fall of 1972.
As a member of the community, he studied mechanical engineering at the Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule (RWTH) in Aachen from 1974 and graduated in 1980 with a degree in engineering. It was a great joy for him that these studies allowed him to get a job in the Research Department of Daimler-Benz, in Stuttgart, related to the development of motors. Through his work, he found a way to fulfill his special preocupation, which was to live his mission as a lay person in the world and thus contribute to the formation of a new society.
Mission in the community
In 1988, he was called by his community to be the superior of the family. In this task, he had responsibility for the community of men over 18 years, with two reelections, before he had to renounce his position, according to the statutes, in 2006. He then took on the responsibility of accompanying the Schoenstatt Men’s Movement in Germany. In 2012, he was elected again as the superior of the family, and kept this task until his final day.
For a long time, Kanzler had to live with a pain that was not diagnosed with precision. On December 11th, 2020, the diagnosis was finally confirmed to be blood cancer and it was clear that he only had a short time to live. But even knowing this diagnosis, the community was surprised at the speed at which his condition deteriorated. He finally returned to the House of the Father on the 23rd of December, 2020.
“This loss is very painful for our community and for the Schoenstatt Men’s Movement,” reflected Thomas Butz in an announcement to the Schoenstatt Movement. “It is also a loss for the mission of the laity in the world, because [Kanzler] carried this preoccupation in the depths of his heart.” He added, “but we, the Brothers of Mary, also live historically in the certainty that God can write straight with crooked lines,” and asked for prayers for the late superior of the Brothers of Mary.
Father Ludwig Güthlein, director of the Schoenstatt Movement in Germany, expressed in a first reaction his shock at the sudden and surprising death of Kanzler. “The Schoenstatt Movement of Germany, responsible for the work of the men, has lost a commited and responsible collaborator, whose central conern was to unite his professional life with a personal relationship with God. We give thanks to our Heavenly Father for Mr. Kanzler and we pray that he be received in the joy of the divine presence.”