As longtime readers may remember, I taught at the University of Vechta for a while. And yesterday, I had the opportunity to teach in Vechta again, though not at the university this time, but at the St. Antoniushaus, a conference centre and retreat run by the Catholic church*. I was teaching or rather moderating an English class for pregnancy counsellors to help them offer support to pregnant refugees and immigrants who don’t speak German. I filled in on fairly short notice for another teacher who had to drop out. So I spent the afternoon watching and critiquing six lovely ladies role-playing counselling sessions. This was quite a change from what I usually do and also very interesting. I also gained a lot more insight in and respect for what pregnancy counsellors actually do.
Vechta sits right in a middle of a Catholic enclave in otherwise largely Lutheran North West Germany. The religious difference is very visible in the form of roadside crucifixes (I passed five or six on my way there – photos of some of them can be found in this old post), street names, religious bookshops and Catholic organisations and charities running hospitals, schools, kindergartens, care homes, etc… Vechta is a very friendly place, though, even if you’re not Catholic and/or not religious at all. Coincidentally, Vechta was also the first place in Germany where I saw LGBT wedding cards – in a religious book and card shop of all things.
Since I arrived early, I had some time to walk around town, buy books and patronise two of the best bakeries in North West Germany for bread and biscuits. Unfortunately, one of the formerly three independent bookstores in Vechta is gone by now; the owner retired. But the other two are still there, as are the many excellent bakeries.
The following photos were taken not in and around Vechta, but in Moordeich, a village close to where I live. The lake looks so beautiful and peaceful that it’s easy to forget that it was created to separate Moordeich’s cemetery from the surrounding residential neighbourhood.
*Until 2014, the St. Antoniushaus was run by nuns. At least one of the nuns is still there, but nowadays the house is run by laymen.