On Thursday, May 3, Fr. Heiner Wilmer, SCJ, former Dehonian superior general and now bishop-elect of the diocese of Hildesheim, visited with Pope Francis. Soon after, Fr. Bernd Hagenkord of the Vatican News did an interview with him.
In German, the two spoke about the meeting with the pope, and about Fr. Heiner’s new assignment. Fr. Heiner told the reporter that he asked the Holy Father what he had in mind when appointing him as bishop. The pope “smiled at me and said that ‘I wanted a real pastor, a shepherd who is close to the people, the young, as well as those who are older,” said Fr. Heiner, adding that the pope told him that a real pastor is one who is accessible and present.
Fr. Heiner will become one of three religious bishops in Germany. Asked about this, the former superior general said that it will certainly be a big change. At the Generalate in Rome he lives and works with fellow Dehonians from many countries. “We have grown together well… I have been in community for almost 40 years and I love this community [Dehonians]. Now, I am going to Hildesheim, moving into the bishop’s house… but I go there with confidence and trust in God.”