“A lot of enthusiasm to be felt”

During Advent, there is a wide range of events in Cologne's inner city parishes. It is annoying to miss an interesting event. Canon Dominik Meiering reveals how this is to be prevented.

Interviewer: There is a new digital platform that you co-founded, Advent Calendar.Cologne. What exactly is?

Dr. Dominik Meiering (cathedral chaplain and head of the inner city parishes in Cologne): It's an attempt to put together everything that happens in our Catholic churches in downtown Cologne during the Advent and Christmas season. With the situation that one parish priest is now responsible for the vast majority of parishes in the inner city, the question has arisen: Yes, what is there actually? And then we thought: Let's do it in such a way that we not only inform each other with the pastors and all those who bear responsibility, but also directly do something where many people can access it.

And so we have made a synopsis of the most diverse events on topics such as: Worship services, art and architecture, concerts, offerings for families and children, and more. There are many events that you can look up. There is also something like energy and spirituality for people who want to consciously celebrate the Advent season in a contemplative way. So you get a pretty good overview of what's out there.

Interviewer: Are these events aimed more at people who are already involved in the communities anyway? Or is there also something for the people who say "well, I don't have much to do with church, but during Advent I want to try something a little different"??

Meiering: Both. The booklets are available in Cologne's inner city churches, but they can also be obtained from Cologne Tourism, Tourist Information or the Cathedral Forum. But the whole thing is also available online under Advent Calendar.Cologne. With one click from there I am on a platform where I can also search. For example, you can find out what will happen on 8. December takes place or what events there are for families and children on that day. The idea is, on the one hand, that people who don't really have that much to do with the church are once again interested in all the programs that are available.

We also want to address those who say: "I'm actually a churchgoer. I go to church regularly, Easter and Christmas. And I would like to look now in the Advent season simply times: What else is there?"But of course it is also aimed at those who actually always come, because they should also see what is happening to my right and left. After all, no church in the city center is an island, and some people were surprised to find so many great things happening in the church next door. And that is the goal, also to inform and make clear internally: We stand together – we belong together.

Interviewer: What exactly do we find in the Advent calendar.Cologne?

Meiering: There is already quite a lot of nice stuff. On 8. December, for example, there is Advent music to listen to and sing along to in St. Andrew's. In the afternoon at 4 p.m., with orchestra and soloists and the choirs of St. Andreas and St. Ursula the great Advent carol singing takes place. The great thing is: You can also sing along with them. This is always full to the brim. And such events, we have found, we need to make a few of. That's why a few Advent sing-along events take place.

But there are also events in the Cologne Cathedral. We have so many people going through the Christmas markets in the evening. Therefore, we have decided that in each week of Advent we will always start on Thursday evening with the 5. December, beginning at 9:15 p.m., that is, after the Christmas markets have closed, to have a small spiritual offering. Half an hour with candles, with incense, with a short impulse and so on. So such things take place.

But you can also, for example, simply go to the monastery for a day – be a monk for a day. This is a super offer from the sisters and brothers of Grob St. Martin at Alter Markt. One comes, so to speak, directly from the Christmas market, from the jubilation and the hustle and bustle, and next to it the church stands and invites once again to something completely different.

I think that is the chance that this booklet and this Internet platform offer, that you can orient yourself a bit and then know what the possibilities are. I have already met people who have said: I have leafed through it from front to back, circled where I want to go, and this year my Advent will be more musical than ever before. So there was a lot of enthusiasm, and that's a real pleasure when it's received that way.

The interview was conducted by Verena Troster.

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