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Trainee priests housed in containers

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Trainee priests housed in containers
Plain but cosy. Photo: Hochschule Benedikt XVI. Heiligenkreuz/Susanne Hammerle
09:35 CEST+02:00
So many men are eager to prepare for the priesthood at Heiligenkreuz Abbey in Lower Austria that they are having to be housed in temporary blue container units in the garden.

With the theological college bursting at the seams it has installed 12 of the containers, which are small and not very attractive but are reportedly quite comfortable.

The number of applicants wishing to take a theology diploma has quadrupled in 15 years, from 62 to 242.

Currently the abbey is home to 37 seminarians, many of whom are "late bloomers" for the priesthood, with backgrounds as psychologists, teachers, civil servants, nurses, craftsmen and even a former Swiss Guard, according to the Archdiocese of Vienna.

The majority are from German-speaking countries, with nine coming from India, Nigeria, Ukraine and Vietnam. They are between 20 and 52-years-old.

The abbey only has 28 student rooms and no immediate plans to expand.

"The new students have become accustomed to their special housing," rector Father Karl Wallner said. The containers have been blessed by the abbot. 

Heiligenkreuz Abbey is a Cistercian monastery in the southern part of the Vienna woods, and is home to over 80 monks.

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