The “Apostle” of Munich: R. Mayer’s Ministry

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Train Station Worship Services

Steadily changing leisure-time behavior soon required a response from the church. Quite a number of Catholics, heading out with trains in the early hours of the morning as Sunday excursionists, were no longer able to fulfill their Sunday obligation, i.e. attend Sunday Mass, without any problems. Whole crowds often gathered at the train station in Munich.

Father Rupert Mayer established train station worship services in 1925 to help the faithful avoid the emerging moral conflicts. They were held until 1939,. The first Mass on Sundays or holy days was held at 3:10. Four others followed and Mayer himself usually preached at the first two worship services.

This offering was very well received not only by travelers but also by people who had to work on Sunday (e.g. taxi drivers). Father Mayer regularly reported to the Archbishop of Munich on this offering and the numbers of attendees. As Faulhaber’s letter documents, he accepted it gratefully. Notably, the cardinal commended the increase in worship service attendance in 1934 over the previous year.

The increase in attendance might also be seen as an indication of the faithful thus expressing their solidarity with Father Mayer, who was known for his criticism of the Nazis.

Ministry to Migrants

When he went to Munich in 1912, Father Mayer was entrusted with ministering to migrants, i.e. primarily people looking for work in Munich. At first, he took care of welcoming migrants and presenting the church’s charitable and social as well as spiritual offerings to them.

Munich experienced a tremendous economic boom in the years right after the turn of the century. This lured many simple and poor people to the magnificent capital and residence city in the hope of work.

They were wooed there by different ideological movements, above all the Communists, of course, and partly lived in great poverty under precarious living conditions. Young women in particular were greatly disadvantaged. They were often exploited as maids and usually had little with which to resist the amorous advances of heads of a households.

In light of this situation, Father Mayer founded and took over ministering to the order of the Sisters of the Holy Family who took care of women in particular.

Praeses of the Marian Congregation for Men

Confraternities and religious sodalities, such as the Marian Congregation for Men, where the city’s residents gathered for prayer (usually the Rosary) and religious edification emerged under the guidance of the Jesuit order during the Counter-Reformation, above all in the 17th century. One of them is the Congregation for Men at the Bürgersaal in Munich.

Father Mayer was the sodality’s praeses, i.e. spiritual leader, as of 1921. He managed to nearly triple the number of members (to around 7000) by 1932. The procession of the Congregation for Men on Corpus Christi was an impressive sight. The support for Father Mayer among the populace in Munich explains why he increasingly met with opposition and resistance among the Nazis.

Source / title

  • © Archiv der Deutschen Provinz der Jesuiten, Akz. 298/2010, Nr. 124 e (5.5)