Management | Team

Gerhard Bader is managing director at Benediktushof GmbH.

The spiritual leadership team consists of Zen Master Alexander Poraj and Contemplation Teachers Fernand Braun and Maria Kolek Braun.

On-site spiritual presence is facilitated by a team of highly experienced teachers, including Blandina von Collande, Elsbeth Maria Herberich, Andrea Hetkamp, Dagmar Buxbaum, Manfred Rosen, and Daniel Rothe.

Managing director

Gerhard Bader (*1971), has a degree in business engineering from Karlsruhe and has held various leadership positions throughout his career. Prior to his current role as managing director of Benediktushof GmbH, he was a partner at Deloitte in the Human Capital consulting division. Gerhard Bader has been practicing contemplation for many years.

Spiritual Leadership

Fernand Braun, born in 1960 in Belgium, is a Catholic graduate theologian and was ordained a priest in 1991. He is a member of the spiritual leadership of the „Cloud of Unknowing“ contemplative lineage and previously served in the spiritual leadership of Benediktushof from 2013 to 2019. Fernand Braun is married and has two adult children. As an initiatory therapist, he serves individuals who seek deeper meaning in their lives.

Events by Fernand Braun

Maria Kolek Braun (*1962) is a Catholic theologian and scholar of german studies. Based in Switzerland, she has extensive experience working in a parish and hospital chaplaincy. Currently, she serves on the leadership team of spiritual care at hospitals and clinics in the Canton of Zurich. Maria’s work in the field of Spiritual Care focuses on accompanying and supporting individuals in their search for meaning, acceptance, and a purpose in their lives. As a spiritual leader, she will be regularly present on-site at Benediktushof. Maria is a contemplation teacher of the „Cloud of Unknowing“ lineage (Willigis Jäger) and is also a board member of the Würzburg Forum of Contemplation and an MBSR teacher.

Events by Maria Kolek Braun

Alexander Poraj (*1964) studied Catholic theology in Freiburg and Granada (Spain), with a focus on religious studies, in which he received his PhD with a thesis entitled „The Concept of the Ego-Structure in the Mysticism of Meister Eckhart and Zen Buddhism“. Alexander Poraj has worked, among other things, as managing director of the clinic group Oberbergkliniken GmbH and most recently founded the Institute for Advanced Spiritual Studies. He is father of two daughters. Alexander Poraj is a Zen master of the Zen lineage ‚Empty Cloud‘ and a contemplation teacher appointed by Willigis Jäger. He is a member of the spiritual leadership of the Benediktushof and a member of the board of the ‚West-Eastern Wisdom Willigis Jäger Foundation‘.

Publications of Alexander Poraj
Courses with Alexander Poraj

On-Site Spiritual Presence

Blandina von Collande lived for many years at Benediktushof. She is a Zen teacher of the Zen lineage „Empty Cloud“ by Willigis Jäger, and also teaches ongoing Taiji courses. In 2020, she moved to Würzburg to live in a multi-generational house with one of her daughters and two of her five grandchildren. She is actively involved with „Omas for Future“ Würzburg.

Elsbeth Maria Herberich has been following the Zen path since her encounter with Willigis Jäger in 1983, which has become her way of life. She expresses her artistic talents through the Japanese art of flower arranging – Ikebana – and through the practice of laying on of hands. She works as a course instructor, serving as a Zen teacher of the „Empty Cloud“ lineage and as a teacher of Ikebana of the Ikenobo Academy in Kyoto and laying on of hands of the Open Hands School, led by Anne Höfler.

Andrea Hetkamp completed a training in „Spiritual Guidance“ and studied „Spiritual Theology in Interreligious Processes“ at the University of Salzburg. She then went on to receive training in meditation instruction and transpersonal process work. At Benediktushof, she assists in contemplation courses and takes care of our resident program.

Dagmar Buxbaum is a naturopath and relaxation teacher and has been running her own practice since 2006. In addition, she is a Zen teacher of the „Empty Cloud“ lineage (Willigis Jäger) with 40 years of Zen practice. She leads various Zen groups in Meckenheim near Bonn. At Benediktushof, she regularly teaches introductory courses in Zen and leads sesshins.

Manfred Rosen is a Zen master and spiritual companion in the lineage of Willigis Jäger, Zen line „Empty Cloud“. He lives and works with traumatized children and teenagers on a farm located in the tri-border area between Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium. Manfred Rosen works closely with the West-Eastern Wisdom Willigis Jäger Foundation and leads courses at the Benediktushof in addition to his Zen courses, including courses for young adults, families with children, and is a facilitator of „Learning with Mindfulness“.

Dr. Daniel Rothe is a Catholic theologian and research assistant at the Chair of Philosophy and Science of Religion at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. In 2022, he completed his doctorate there („There is no God who exists. Metaphor and religious experience in the 21st century.“). He is a contemplation teacher and a member of the board of the „Cloud of Unknowing“ lineage (Willigis Jäger).

„Those who can not love others is unable to lead them.“

Karlheinz Binder

Our Structure

In February 2003, the Benediktushof Seminar and Conference Center GmbH (short: Benediktushof GmbH) was founded. The company with limited liability (GmbH) operates the Benediktushof as a center for meditation and mindfulness and is the organizer of all courses, seminars, and conferences.

Hence the Benediktushof GmbH provides the legal, organizational, and economic support for the center’s primary goal: to facilitate the meditation center and classes where people can find answers to their questions and longings. The GmbH is the organizational framework that ensures the center’s ongoing activities and ensures growth over time.

The limited liability company has two shareholders: The West-Eastern Wisdom Willigis Jäger Foundation and The Gertraud and Josef Gruber Foundation which owns the properties and buildings. The Benediktushof GmbH leases the buildings at a favorable rental rate. Gerhard Bader is the managing director of Benediktushof GmbH.

In addition to the rental costs for the entire property and the costs of purchasing the interior furnishings, the Benediktushof GmbH also has to bear all other expenses associated with operating the seminar and conference center, including personnel costs for employees working at the Benediktushof.

It is financed exclusively through revenues from the accommodation, meals, our bookshop, and the Benediktushof store, as well as through a deduction from the course fees that the course instructors pay to the center for room usage and course organization. The profits generated in a fiscal year are not distributed to the shareholders but are retained in the company to build reserves. These reserves are needed for repairs and maintenance and for necessary future investments.

The advisory board of the GmbH sets the framework for the operation of the Benediktushof. It advises and supports the management in all important matters. The advisory board of the GmbH includes Irene Bopp (Gertraud and Josef Gruber Foundation) and Paul J. Kohtes (West-Eastern Wisdom Willigis Jäger Foundation) on behalf of the shareholders, as well as Zen master Doris Zölls and former managing director  Dirk Ahlhaus.