From the window of her new office, Rebecca Weidenbach looks directly at Essen Cathedral and the Ferris wheel, which is located on Burgplatz in autumn and winter. For a few days she has been sitting at her desk in the children’s, adolescent and young adult ward, discussing important information for her new job as an altar boy in the diocese of Essen with her colleague Sven Christer Scholven, right in front of her. Scholven was the acolyte’s referent for about six years, and Rebecca Weidenbach took over from her in early November.
“Here I can further develop what I already know”
He now works there three days a week, together with his studies in cross-media faith communication at the Ruhr University in Bochum and his work on the BE: moved digitization project in the diocese. For her, the new job is the perfect starting point for her studies. “Here’s what it’s all about with young people, to see how modern communication can be used to reach them in an authentic way and how they can be networked,” says the 32-year-old.
The decision to apply for the position was an easy one for the community manager, also thanks to her experience in youth work, for example as a team leader with Malteser. “Here I can expand what I already know and do it differently and on a much larger scale,” she says. She is now looking forward to putting into practice many of the ideas for modern communication that she theoretically developed in the last months of her studies. Among his new tasks as acolyte consultant, for example, the planning and carrying out of the Chrism Mass, to which altar boys and girls from all over the diocese come to the cathedral every year, but also great events such as the pilgrimage to Rome in two years. In addition to these great campaigns, Weidenbach is above all the contact at the diocesan level for all group leaders. And one of his tasks is also the exchange with children, young people and adults outside the diocese. “I am particularly looking forward to this meeting with the pastoral ministry of altar boys at the German and international levels,” says Weidenbach.
She also wants to reach altar servers and girls in particular through the social media channels “Heavenly Heroes” and “Youth in the Diocese of Essen” on Facebook and Instagram. “Right now, in the beginning, I would like to use these platforms to introduce myself and spread the word that I will be there from now on, but also just to ask who are the people in acolyte circles in the Ruhr area and in the Sauerland actually. I am.” In this direct contact one can also discover with little inhibition where groups and leaders can still be supported.
“You can’t assume they’re doing it”
Rebecca Weidenbach sees being an acolyte as a special form of community and solidarity. It is an honorary position with a very special role that is at the center of attention: “This is often the only part of the liturgy where young people are explicitly requested. Young people who are very active with their Christian faith in their parish or community move very quickly into the space of the church and perceive it ”. With this special role it is important: “Don’t assume they do, but they should also perceive their volunteer work as a responsible task. They have a voice and should also be able to have a say, have a say in liturgical processes in a contemporary way ”.
To support altar servers in this task in services, group hours, countryside or camps, Weidenbach wants to get to know the leaders in the coming weeks and see where things are going well and where their help is needed, a first meeting is already programmed. The acolyte would like to give his new target group one thing above all: “Here is someone who is there for you”.