Werner Bardenhewer

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Werner Bardenhewer
Werner Bardenhewer.jpg
Bardenhewer in 2012
Joseph Werner Bardenhewer

(1929-01-30)30 January 1929
Died 10 April 2019(2019-04-10) (aged 90)
Wiesbaden, Hesse, Germany
Occupation Catholic priest

Joseph Werner Bardenhewer (30 January 1929 − 10 April 2019) was a German Catholic priest. He was Dean of Wiesbaden, the state capital of Hesse, at the central parish St. Bonifatius from 1974 to 1996. He served for two years at the Eibingen Abbey founded by Hildegard of Bingen. In 1999, he founded the Wiesbaden chapter of the charity organisation africa action, which provides help in health care and education in countries of the Sahel region. He was active as a priest until his death, and had traveled to West Africa to contact the partner organizations. He received Burkina Faso's highest national award, the Knight of the country's National Order, in 2016.

Early life

Born Joseph Werner Bardenhewer[1] in Arnsberg[2] on 30 January 1929,[3] Bardenhewer moved with his family to Wiesbaden in 1937,[2] where he attended the Diltheyschule [de]. He studied at the Philosophisch-Theologische Hochschule Sankt Georgen and in Fribourg, Switzerland.[4] He was ordained a priest by Bishop Wilhelm Kempf on 8 December 1955.[2][5]

Religious career

Bardenhewer (fourth from right) between Bishop Ambroise Ouédraogo from Maradi, Niger, and Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul with members of the board of the africa action in Wiesbaden in 2011

His first position was as Kaplan (assisting priest) in Nauort from 1 January 1956.[2] In mid-1959, he was called to the administration of the Diocese of Limburg by Alexander Stein, to serve as the Diözesansekretär of the Sozialreferat (Department for Social Affairs). From 1962, he was priest for the Berufsschule in Wiesbaden. From 1967, he was vicar of the Wiesbaden parish St. Andreas, and became its parish priest on 1 November 1968. Simultaneously, he was dean of the section Wiesbaden-Mitte from 1971 to 1974.[2] He cofounded an ecumenical association Arbeitsgemeinschaft Sozialer Brennpunkt (Working group social focal point), in close collaboration with the Protestant parish of Matthäus, political parties, schools and social groups.[5]

Bardenhewer was parish priest of Wiesbaden central Catholic parish St. Bonifatius, Wiesbaden, from 16 June 1974 until his retirement on 31 January 1996.[2] The officeholder has traditionally also been dean of Wiesbaden.[5] His focus was social work both in the parish and beyond, the deepening of faith in services and especially a 1992 action "Aufbruch '92", and spiritual communication in several groups in the parish.[2] He was inspired by the Second Vatican Council, and named the new parish house Roncalli-Haus after Pope John XXIII.[4] He was president of the local Caritas organization, and on the board of the St. Josefs-Hospital [de].[5] After his retirement at age 67, Bardenhewer served for two years as Spiritual, the priest of Eibingen Abbey in Rüdesheim, which Hildegard of Bingen had founded.[2]

Humanitarian activities

After his return to Wiesbaden, he founded a charity organisation in 1999, the Freundeskreis Wiesbaden or Wiesbaden group of the africa action / Deutschland [de] which supports health care, especially fighting blindness, and education in the countries of the Sahel.[2][3][6] The initiative came from a prisoner sentenced for life for whom Bardenhewer cared. The man had seen on TV that in Africa, eye surgery for only DM30 (US$15) could help a blind patient to see.[7][5] With the help of the Caritas, Bardenhewer connected the group in Wiesbaden to the existing ghana action. The Wiesbaden group made the building of five eye clinics in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger possible, and enabled young people to study ophthalmology or train to be opticians.[8] The fifth clinic in Mopti, Mali, was named after Bardenhewer in 2011, "Centre ophtalmologique Père Joseph Werner Bardenhewer".[1][9] He published a book by the cardinal of Burkina Faso, Philippe Ouédraogo, translated into German as Gott allein genügt (God alone suffices) by Stefanie Götzmann in 2018.[10][11]

Bardenhewer traveled to West Africa, seeking direct contact with the institutions there, such as in 2018 to Burkina Faso.[12] He was known there as Père Joseph.[13] A street in the capital Ouagadougou was named after Wiesbaden to honor the help from the Wiesbaden group.[8] In 2016, Bardenhewer was awarded the highest award of Burkina Faso, Knight of the country's National Order.[13] He celebrated his 90th birthday in a monastery in Burkina Faso, as part of one of his project journeys.[4] On 24 February 2019, he celebrated a mass of thanks at Mariä Heimsuchung in Wiesbaden-Dotzheim.[7]


Bardenhewer died on 10 April 2019 in a hospital in Wiesbaden.[6] He was buried on the Wiesbaden Südfriedhof on 23 April 2017 by Johannes zu Eltz [de], after an Requiem (Resurrection Mass) at St. Bonifatius.[5]


  1. ^ a b "Le candidat Soumaïla Cissé après la conférence régionale de l'URD à Tominian : "Nous devons respecter nos institutions malgré les difficultés du moment ..."". malijet.com (in French). 15 February 2012. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Dahlhoff, Benjamin (8 December 2015). "Pfarrer i. R. Werner Bardenhewer" (in German). St. Bonifatius, Wiesbaden. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Pfarrer Bardenhewer wird 90" (in German). Diocese of Limburg. 9 January 2019. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  4. ^ a b c Hollingshaus, Anke (30 January 2019). "Früherer Wiesbadener Stadtdekan Werner Bardenhewer feiert seinen 90. in Burkina Faso". Wiesbadener Kurier (in German). Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Bereitwilliger Helfer bei sozialen Schwierigkeiten / Pfarrer i. R. Werner Bardenhewer ist tot" (in German). Diocese of Limburg. Retrieved 29 April 2019.
  6. ^ a b "Werner Bardenhewer starb im Alter von 90 Jahren". Wiesbadener Kurier (in German). 16 April 2019. Retrieved 16 April 2019.
  7. ^ a b "Sonderausgabe 12. April 2019 / Wir trauern um Pfarrer Joseph Werner Bardenhewer" (in German). africa action / Deutschland [de]. 12 April 2019. Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  8. ^ a b Hollingshaus, Anke (January 2018). "Hilfe für Blinde: Früherer Wiesbadener Stadtdekan Werner Bardenhewer besucht mit Delegation Burkino Faso". Wiesbadener Kurier (in German). Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  9. ^ Gerber, Manfred (18 February 2011). "Bardenhewer als Namensgeber – Afrikahilfe Augenklinik in Mali nach dem früheren Stadtdekan benannt". Wiesbadener Tagblatt (in German). Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  10. ^ "Allein für Gott" (in German). Echter. 2018. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  11. ^ Kardinal Philippe Ouédraogo: Gott allein genügt. Translated from French to German by Stefanie Götzmann, edited by Werner Bardenhewer. Echter Verlag, 2018, ISBN 978-3-429-05317-8.
  12. ^ Travers, Thérèse (January 2018). "Bericht über die Reise nach Burkina Faso / Januar 2018" (PDF) (in German). africa action /Deutschland. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  13. ^ a b Grella, Peter (27 February 2016). ""Père Joseph ist ein Träumer" / Die Republik Burkina Faso verleiht dem früheren Stadtdekan Werner Bardenhewer die höchste Auszeichnung des Landes" (PDF). Wiesbadener Kurier (in German). Retrieved 17 January 2019.

External links

  • Literature by and about Werner Bardenhewer in the German National Library catalogue
  • Sechzig Jahre Priester (in German) Diocese of Limburg
  • Mali / africa action Deutsche Katholisches Blindenwerk
  • Assistance Humanitaire Burkina assistance-humanitaire.de
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