Management team | organisation

The management team and spiritual presence:

Gerhard Bader is responsible for the management of Benediktushof GmbH.

The spiritual leadership is formed by the Zen master Alexander Poraj and the contemplation teachers Fernand Braun and Maria Kolek Braun.

In addition to the members of the spiritual direction, the spiritual presence on site is taken over by Benediktushof staff with many years of experience. These include Blandina von Collande, Elsbeth Maria Herberich, Andrea Hetkamp, Dagmar Buxbaum, Manfred Rosen and Daniel Rothe.

Managing director

Gerhard Bader, born in 1971, studied industrial engineering in Karlsruhe. He holds a degree in business engineering, has held various management positions and is a partner at Deloitte in the human capital consultancy. He has been managing director of Benediktushof GmbH since 2021. Gerhard Bader has been following the path of contemplation for many years.

You can contact Gerhard Bader at:

Spiritual leadership

Fernand Braun, born in Belgium in 1960, is a Catholic graduate theologian and was ordained priest in 1991. He is a member of the spiritual direction of the „Wolke des Nichtwissens“ contemplation line and was already active in the spiritual direction of Benediktushof from 2013 to 2019. Fernand Braun is the father of two adult children and married. As an initiatic therapist, he addresses people who are asking for the deeper meaning of their lives.

Events by Fernand Braun

Maria Kolek Braun, born 1962, married, is a Catholic theologian and Germanist. She lives in Switzerland and, after years in parish work and hospital chaplaincy, now works in the management team of hospital and clinic chaplaincy in the canton of Zurich. In the context of spiritual care, she accompanies and supports people in their search for meaning, acceptance and the sustaining reason for their lives. In her role as spiritual director, she will be regularly present on site at Benediktushof. She is a contemplation teacher of the „Wolke des Nichtwissens“ lineage (Willigis Jäger) and also a board member of the Würzburg Forum of Contemplation as well as an MBSR teacher.

Events by Maria Kolek Braun

Dr. Alexander Poraj, born in 1964, studied Catholic theology in Freiburg and Granada (Spain), with a focus on religious sciences, where he received his doctorate with the topic: “Der Begriff der Ich-Struktur in der Mystik Meister Eckehart und im Zen-Buddhismus” (The concept of ego structure in the mysticism of Meister Eckehart and in Zen Buddhism). Alexander Poraj worked among other things as managing director of the psychosomatic specialized hospital acute clinic group Oberbergkliniken GmbH and founded the Academy of Psychology in Spain, where he accompanies people and groups on their spiritual journey. He is divorced and a father of two daughters. Alexander Poraj is a Zen-master of the Zen-line ‘Leere Wolke’ and a teacher of contemplation appointed by Willigis Jäger. He is a member of the spiritual board of Benediktushof and a member of the board of the ‚West-eastern wisdom – Willigis Jäger foundation‘.

Publications of Alexander Poraj
Courses with Alexander Poraj

Spiritual presence

Blandina von Collande lived at Benediktushof for many years, is a Zen teacher of Willigis Jäger’s „Leere Wolke“ Zen lineage and also gives ongoing Taiji courses. 2020 Moved to Würzburg to a multi-generational house with one of the daughters and two of the five grandchildren. Committed to the „Omas for future“ Würzburg.

Since meeting Willigis Jäger in 1983, Elsbeth Maria Herberich has followed the Zen path, which has become her way of life. It finds its artistic expression in Japanese flower arranging – Ikebana – and in laying on of hands. She is active as a course leader as a Zen teacher of the „Leere Wolke“ lineage and as a teacher for Ikebana of the Ikenobo Academy, Kyoto and laying on of hands of the Open Hands School, Anne Höfler.

Andrea Hetkamp completed training in „Spiritual Guidance“ and studied „Spiritual Theology in the Interreligious Process“ at the University of Salzburg. This was followed by training in meditation guidance and transpersonal process work. At Benediktushof she assists in contemplation courses and looks after the long-term guests.

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

Manfred Rosen is a Zen master and spiritual guide in the succession of Willigis Jäger, Zen lineage „Leere Wolke“. He lives and works with traumatised children and young people on a farm in the border triangle between Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. Manfred Rosen works very closely with the West-Östlichen Weisheit Willigis Jäger Foundation and, in addition to his Zen courses, leads courses for young adults, families with children and is a course leader of „Learning with Mindfulness“ at Benediktushof.

Dr. Daniel Rothe is a Catholic theologian and research assistant at the Department of Philosophy and Science of Religion at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. In 2022 he completed his doctorate there („Einen Gott, den es gibt, gibt es nicht. Metaphorik und religiöses Erleben im 21. Jahrhundert.“). He is a contemplation teacher and a member of the board of the „Wolke des Nichtwissens“ lineage (Willigis Jäger).

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

Karlheinz Binder

Organisation of Benediktushof

It is the purpose of Benediktushof GmbH to build and uphold a legal and organizational framework, as well as economic basis for what Benediktushof aspires to be and to share: a center for meditation, in which people find answers to their questions. This goal has always been the center of attention. The GmbH is, as it were, the background to the actual essence of Benediktushof. It should be a guarantor for the fact that such a great project as Benediktushof can exist permanently and grow further.

In February 2003 the Benediktushof Seminar- und Tagungszentrum GmbH (Benediktushof GmbH for short) was founded. The GmbH has since run the Benediktushof as center for meditation and mindfulness and is the organizer of all courses, seminars, and conferences.

The GmbH has two shareholders: The Gertraud and Josef Gruber Foundation is at the same time the owner of the land and buildings, which the Foundation leases to Benediktushof at a favorable rental rate, and the West-Eastern Wisdom Willigis Jäger Foundation. The managing director of Benediktushof GmbH is Gerhard Bader.

Alongside rent for the entire property and acquisition costs for interior furnishing, Benediktushof must also bear all other expenses associated with the operation of the seminar and conference center, including the personnel costs for the employees working at the Benediktushof.

The GmbH is financed solely through revenues of accommodation, food, bookshop, and farm store, as well as retention of course fees that the course leaders pay for spatial use and the organizational work that Benediktushof takes on. The income generated in a financial year is not distributed to the partners, but remains in the company to form reserves. These are needed for repairs and maintenance and for necessary future investments.

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