Tight coffers at church: properties are being turned into cash

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Popular Bonifatius House will be sold

Tight coffers at the church: real estate is being turned into cash

Claudia Lehner

The Archdiocese of Bamberg has to save money. Properties that are no longer used are to be sold: from the church to the old rectory or a parish center

The archdiocese of Bamberg has to save money. Properties that are no longer used are to be sold: from the church to the old rectory or a community center. © Photo: Claudia Lehner

BAD WINDSHEIM – The parish can no longer afford to keep its large parish center. This hits not only the parishioners hard, but also the many clubs and groups that could use it so far for little money. Where are they to be housed now?

Dance, gymnastics, sports and rehabilitation groups meet there, meetings take place, as well as private and, in the past, increasingly public celebrations and, of course, parish events, and it is regularly used as a polling station: most people in Bad Windsheim have probably seen the inside of Bonifatius House at some time or another. But soon that could be history. The house is too big for the church community and too expensive. It is to be sold, just like the sisters’ home next door.
The Catholic Church in the archdiocese has to save money. This is mainly due to declining membership. In 2010, there were 717,329 Catholics in the diocese of Bamberg, but by 2020 there were only 645,088. This affects Bad Windsheim (not counting Burgbernheim) in the same way. From 2818 Catholics in 2011 the number dropped to currently 2516. This means less church tax, so less revenue. In the desired consolidation of finances, all areas will be scrutinized, but especially construction projects and real estate. What is no longer needed should be sold, is the instruction from Bamberg. The red pencil is also being applied to new buildings and renovations.

The Bonifatius House in Bad Windsheim is for sale. The building is associated with many memories, not only for the parishioners. © Stefan Blank, NN

In Bad Windsheim, the Bonifatius House and the Sisters’ Home, where the parish sisters lived until the mid-1980s, are to be sold. Unusual in this time of austerity: Bamberg wants to financially support a new building. This is to be built in the parish garden, along the Hainserwall, but will be much smaller than the Bonifatushaus, as Pastor Michael Wildenauer explains. A hall with 160 square meters as before is no longer needed. Catholic numbers are dropping, events are not as well attended as they were decades ago when the "Bonihaus" was built in 1980.

Customized replacement building

"We get a replacement buildingà la carte," Wildenauer enthuses. The building will be adapted precisely to the needs of the parish, and the Catholic Young Community, which previously used rooms in the basement of the Bonihaus, will also be involved in the plans. Exactly what the new building will look like has not yet been decided. According to Wildenauer, there will be an on-site meeting with those responsible from Bamberg in November.

On the left, the former sister’s home adjoins the Bonifatius House. That, too, is to be sold. © Stefan Blank, NN

For smaller events, the parish already has rooms on the first floor of the house Martha and Maria, also in the parish garden. These are used by first communion children and other groups of the parish. The loss of the Bonifatius House will affect many in the community emotionally, Wildenauer is sure. Memories are attached to it. The sale is likely to be a problem for the many external groups. "It is relatively well booked," says Wildenauer. The hall is rented so far for 180 euros per evening. There are also two permanent tenants, for an apartment for the mother-child center.
Not cost-covering
But the income did not cover the costs by far. This also applies to the apartments in the sisters’ home. According to Wildenauer, the annual heating costs in the Bonifatius House alone amount to 12,000 to 13,000 euros. "It has to be that way economically," he says, justifying the sale. "We can no longer afford both properties." Renovations would also hardly be subsidized anymore.

Conversions for the new administrative headquarters

At the same time, other remodeling projects are on the horizon. As reported, Bad Windsheim has been designated the administrative center of the new pastoral area of Oberer Aischgrund. The rectory will be remodeled for this purpose: with rooms for the new head of administration and other full-time staff. The parish priest’s apartment will be moved to the upper floor of the house Martha and Maria. The branch office of the Archbishop’s Youth Office and the Federation of German Catholic Youth will move to Neustadt. This should all happen quite soon, by fall 2023.
When the Bonihaus will be sold, meanwhile, is an open question. According to Wildenauer, there are interested parties for the nurses’ home. But even if the sale should prove difficult and there is still no timetable for the new building: "The question is not if, but when," Wildenauer makes it clear that the decision has been made. And the location of the house is very attractive, he is sure that it is saleable.

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