“Departure instead of demolition!”


The former city youth chaplain Dominik Meiering is the new vicar general of the archbishop of Cologne. In his first interview after the appointment, he talks about a special ultimatum of Cardinal Woelki, his vita and the upcoming tasks.


Interviewer: Good luck and blessings for the new task Mr. Vicar General! That went very fast now. How did you yourself react to the request?

Vicar General Dr. Meiering: I have been a city and district youth chaplain for nine years now. That something new would come along at some point was already clear to me. That it would become such a responsible office now, that was nevertheless also for me a small shock. And I asked for a week to think about it. But the cardinal said, "No, three days, that's all the Lord needed for the resurrection.". Then I slept badly for a while and thought about how to go about it. And I have also consulted. Now I am glad that the decision has been made.

Interviewer: Cardinal Woelki knows you from his years as auxiliary bishop in Cologne.

Vicar General Dr. Meiering: Yes, when he was consecrated bishop, I was chaplain at St. Agnes in Cologne. We got to know each other in Cologne Cathedral. Maybe he has followed my activities a little bit, or people have told him about me. Anyway, he seems to think that I am the right person for the job.

Interviewer: You have gained experience in many different areas: Chaplain, youth pastor, lecturer, teaching assistant, priest training. Can you bring this experience into your new area of responsibility?.

Vicar General Dr. Meiering: I first have to learn to be a vicar general. I have a great respect for that. I know that this is a very big challenge that has to be met. On the other hand, I have done many different things side by side in the past, and I was allowed to gain experience in many areas – both at the diocesan level and in youth pastoral care. And I hope that all these experiences are now good to be able to cope well with this new ministry.

Interviewer: You have experienced three vicars general. Are there role models?

Vicar General Dr. Meiering: Everyone has to go their own way, you can't imitate anyone. My predecessors, of course, have very different biographies. Stefan Hebe z.B. has grown up in the church administration as personnel manager. And Mr. Feldhoff and Mr. Schwaderlapp were secretaries of the archbishop. I have done 17 years of youth pastoral care and a few other tasks as well. These are very different prerequisites. I will certainly turn to these three for advice and to be told how this might be approached.

Interviewer: As you said yourself, the office of vicar general in the archdiocese of Cologne, in this large, financially strong archdiocese, is a very important and responsible task. What moves you in particular when you now look ahead??

Vicar General Dr. Meiering: Yes, this is indeed a very big responsibility, and I hope I can live up to it. For me, the first and most important thing I feel right now is the desire to gradually get to know all the employees in the General Vicariate and to simply find a good working relationship with them. I hope that I will be accepted as I am, that I will be able to contribute my abilities and charisms well, and that the many staff members, who I know are very good, will also enjoy working with me. I was sent to St. John Baptist as a youth chaplain during the development of the youth pastoral center "Crux" and the task was: "Yes, do something here."There was the leaning tower and there was the question: "Should this church be torn down??"And then we gave out the slogan: "Departure instead of demolition!"And that has shaped me a little bit. And maybe I want to try to take that into the work of the Vicar General's Office a little bit.

Interviewer: It all happened very quickly for you, too. In the last week you still had all your tasks and were here with us in the this site for example interlocutor in the daily gospel. Now we have to quickly say goodbye to many familiar tasks and adjust to new things. What will be the next steps for you? Have you already thought about that?

Vicar General Dr. Meiering: First of all, I have to make sure that I inform everyone a bit and talk to all those who work with me – in the youth ministry, in the BDKJ, at the conservatory, in the seminary, the deacon institute and whatever else I can think of. Then we'll have to go through the calendar together and take a look. So, I think the next days will be very much marked by very practical questions. But I also want to try to get to know the current vicar general a bit better and to see what we can agree on.

Interviewer: Now the last question: How did your immediate environment react to this new news and your new task?. So, their friends, their family?

Vicar General Dr. Meiering: So, I was able to inform the family yesterday, and they were very happy. Of course, the relatives were also surprised. They encouraged me, and I must honestly say that I am very grateful to have a family that supports me and friends who are there for me and who will certainly be my companions along the way. I hope that they will take it all well – I am actually sure of that. And that I can approach this task with joy and freedom and serenity, and I hope that I will be able to fulfill it.

The interview was conducted by Dr. Christian Schlegel.

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