Contents page 1 — “Sometimes I have a Nötli in my pocket” page 2 — “I have two Pair of shoes” On a page
The gatekeeper read opens the heavy wooden door, leads through to the cloister of the Capuchin monastery in Olten and asks in a small room. In a corner, a prayer bench, on the walls, icons and a large crucifix hanging. In the middle is a table. Brother Niklaus Kuster comes rushed to the scene, he is tall and gaunt, the hair dishevelled
THE TIME: brother Niklaus, to be obliged, as a Capuchin, you have to live in poverty. Do you actually own a Bank account?
Niklaus Kuster: no. If I earn something, it goes directly to the monastery account, which is managed by brother Werner. I have to take care of me so good as never to administrative things, which is very convenient.
TIME: If you look at their activities, you think of a top Manager than to a monastery, brother: you are lecturing at several universities in Switzerland, Germany, Spain, and Italy are a sought-after theologian for Franciscan spirituality, they write books, give courses, conduct pilgrimages.
Kuster: With the small difference that I’m mainly walking and traveling by train. Anyway, I think my life style is less to the Manager …
Kuster: … Francis of Assisi. He was also a traveler. We are the wall brothers, to see us as a pilgrim and guest in this world.
TIME: you have found with your activities, there is a gap in the market and could be with your business Empire.
Kuster: The pilgrimages, I offer, are not profit-oriented. Sure, you could make the most economically interesting. But that would bite with the Franciscan spirit.
TIME: you keep also lectures on a regular basis. Since they could demand hefty fees.
Kuster: That is completely foreign to me. Also if I get asked the question “What do you cost?” often. It is usually the third question after you have agreed on the date and the contents of the unit.
TIME: what is your answer?
Kuster: I cost nothing. But my brothers are happy, if I can make a contribution to our livelihood. However, we have no fixed fee claims. The organizers of the event make me a proposal, and I say: That’s all right with me. The end of the year I’ll see if the amount of the fee I was promised, has arrived.
This article dates back to the TIME no 04/2019. Here you can read the entire issue.
TIME: How much do you earn bottom line?
Kuster: We are at the beginning of the year in our monastery, a Budget. As does probably every other family. For me, about 50,000 or 60,000 Swiss francs to be used, I needs to contribute for the livelihood of the community.
TIME: When you are at work not to make money, then what? Do you want to convert people?
Kuster: (laughs uproariously) Ouuu, nei! No! I have no desire for Conversion! I am often called by people looking for a deep-rooted spirituality. No Bircher muesli-spirituality, as it is just fashion, when you take of a little bit everywhere, which is convenient. Francis of Assisi speaks to many people – even about Christianity. Not for nothing the world’s religions to meet in Assisi, if you pray for the peace of the world.
TIME: you were 22 years old when they played for the first time, with the idea to enter the convent. What is the role of the Material played at that time for you?
Kuster: I come from a big family with five children. My parents were very good to come with us. Since there was no money to Mess up. For me, it was clear that a cost-conscious student life, my younger brothers and sisters. When I came for my history studies in Freiburg in the Üechtland, something else much more than the money.
Kuster: I’m in Eschenbach, a small farming village, grew up. After the Matura in the monastery school in Appenzell, I came to Freiburg, and I have seen, although this is by no means a big city, for the first time social problems. I knew from books that there are people living on the street. When I went in the Morning from my Dorm room at the Uni, I saw people who grew boxes made of cardboard, or a prostitute working on the street. At the beginning I had no idea what to offer these women at all. With some friends I friends – as a customer! and learned of their fates. This has shocked me. Not that there is Prostitution, but who benefits, and how to deal with these women. In Freiburg, I came to know the first drug addict. This social world of shadows has me today.
TIME: What have you done?
Kuster: I began my studies. It not more fit that I am dealing with the ancient world, with social problems in the middle ages, and in the evening on the problems of today’s world over walk. I asked myself, what can I contribute to making the world more human, fairer, brighter.
TIME: Actually, we wanted to talk about money. But you don’t seem to care.
Kuster: whatever I deserve, in the monastery Treasury. Whatever I need, may I take it from the monastery Treasury. But of course, I try to live simply. And I know that I’m 57 years old, the second youngest in our monastery: The money is becoming scarcer from year to year.