We Are Church Intl.


Hello Matthias

By Martha Heizer

Am I glad that I can believe in the resurrection! I would find it hard to bear the thought that all that remains of Matthias are the ashes in the urn, our memories of him, his texts and his compositions. That is a lot - but too little.

There are people who think that this is what is called "lying the dreary reality into hope". But I say: Why should I resign myself to the dreary reality of having to say goodbye, when there is well-founded hope for a reunion?

I believe that he lives - differently and beyond our imagination, beyond our sight. But when I am plagued by the question of what his last days and hours might have been like, sick and alone, I believe I hear him say to me: "This need no longer bother you. Whatever it was like - it's over." And I see his small, modest smile, which he often had when he tried to explain to me something I didn't understand.

I believe that Matthias is alive, free and unburdened and happy, beyond all the troubles that plagued him during his lifetime, but with all the beauty and joy he experienced in life - and with the laughter with which he so often infected us.

Matthias was with us from the beginning of We Are Church. At that time, he was in his early 30s, worked for Siemens and flew around the world on business. He was an important part of our Vienna group and was also present at all events throughout Austria, always including our summer days, where we were able to get to know him better. In 2014 he was elected 2nd chairman of WsK and from then on he was a regular at our board meetings.

In the meantime he was no longer with Siemens and wrote on an adventurous PhD thesis. As far as I understood, his research question was how to bring psychoanalysis and artificial intelligence together, that is, in my completely abbreviated understanding, how to bring Freud into the computer. He spent years doing basic research on that: How do concepts arise? What is a helpful terminology for feelings? Can they be operationalized so that they are unambiguous? How could they then be broken down into small units of information without distorting them? In the process, he experienced many, many setbacks, developed programs himself, which were then overwhelmed again at some point, and so on. His sister Christine told that he, however, still recently reported a breakthrough. How to wish him that! And how it would be to be wished above all, if someone would start now to the continuation of his research...

Despite all this work, he always made time for us. He contributed creative ideas and wrote texts. He was, as Harald described it, a lateral thinker who often challenged us. But his inventive mind didn't stop him from being meticulous, even on such dry matters as the bylaws. He was something like our legal counsel, and in matters of statutes we could simply rely on him.

Matthias was also very involved internationally. The many letters of condolence from all over the world show how much he was appreciated. Mauro calls him the "natural chairman of our meetings", which refers especially to the European network "Churches on the Move", where Matthias always represented WsK-Ö.

And there, of course, was his core topic: still in our last newspaper he writes against the episcopal constitution of our church. It was unbearable to him that there is no separation of powers in the church, that those affected are not involved in the respective decisions, that the people at the levers of power are not accountable to anyone. He was deeply convinced that we need a church constitution in which the separation of powers is laid down in writing and can be enforced.

The fact that we already held a conference on this topic in 2010 with international experts is due to his constant urging. He also played a decisive role in the current version of a church constitution, which was submitted to the synod office in Rome with the support of many organizations. Our last Church People's Conference in October on the subject of the Church Constitution shows that he was finally able to convince all of us that there can be no profound reform in our Church without a Church Constitution. It took a lot of effort for him to come to this conference, he was not well, you could see that, but he was still very involved in the discussion - and we have a last photo of him where he is laughing heartily, and a last cafe visit afterwards.

I believe that Matthias is alive. It can't be that Matthias can't think now, that this mastermind no longer works. On the contrary, he will be happy to finally find answers to the many riddles of this world with which he has struggled. He will now find confirmed that he was not wrong with his great love for logic, but probably he will also see that it is not everything - or it is, but just divine logic.

Or his heart, which has stopped beating, but which lives on with all the love that Matthias had in him. "To be the face of love for one another," as he wrote in his We Are Church hymn, he really lived that and it cannot possibly have stopped. For this he will continue to have a heart, but just not this muscle, which is so central to our earthly life.

Also his friendly view of the world and the people in it, his sparkling humor, which in recent times has become quieter, a bit more restrained, more profound, all this lives on with him. Thank God!

Matthias probably raises both eyebrows now, as he often does when he has started to talk. I hear him very clearly: "I am alive. I am well. Better than I've ever been. Don't worry!"