It is with regret that we announce the death on the 21st day of March, at Missiehuis Vrijland, aged 92, of
Father Theo Beemster
Mill Hill Missionary
May he rest in peace
Theo was born on the 14th of March, 1930 in the town of Hoogkarspel, Haarlem, in the Netherlands. His father was Piet Beemster, a gardener, and his mother was Catharina Maria Beemster, nee Windt. Theo had one brother and four sisters.
As he progressed through his local primary school, Theo felt the stirrings of a vocation to the missionary priesthood. Therefore, for his Secondary Education he attended our Mill Hill Colleges, first at Hoorn (1942-1948), then at Haelen (1948-1950) So, he was educated during and after the tough war years in the Netherlands when great sacrifices and sufferings prevailed, shaping the man he became. From 1950 to 1952, Theo studied Philosophy and associated subjects at our missionary College in the town of Roosendaal. Having successfully completed these studies, he was promoted to study Theology and associated subjects in our Mother House, Saint Joseph’s College, Mill Hill, London. As his theological studies progressed, he took the Perpetual Oath to God in the Society on the 6th of May, 1955. Just over a year later, Theo was ordained a Mill Hill Missionary priest in the chapel of Saint Joseph’s College on the 8th of July, 1956.
As was the tradition in those years, on the day of his ordination to priesthood Theo met with the then Superior General and received his first missionary appointment. For Theo, this was to work in the Diocese of Tororo, Uganda. He was first appointed assistant priest at Bududa parish, where he stayed for three years. He then assisted at Orungo parish and then in Kidetok parish. In 1964, Theo returned to his home country to do Procure work, based at our college in Hoorn. After a few years, he was keen to return to his beloved Uganda. So, in 1968 he was re-appointed to Totoro Diocese, where he served this time in Ngora and Butebo parishes. Latterly, these were troubled times in Uganda. Theo was arrested in 1973 and spent some time in custody at the orders of President Amin, before being deported from Uganda.
Although grateful to have escaped with his life, Theo was still convinced of his missionary vocation. So, late in 1973 he accepted an appointment to work in the Diocese of Buea in Cameroon, West Africa. He returned to being assistant parish priest as he learned the languages, culture and customs of the peoples he was serving. He worked in Mamfe, then eventually became parish priest at Nyandong. In 1975, Theo was appointed Diocesan Secretary by the local Bishop (1974-1979). Keen to be a pastor to his people, Theo was appointed parish priest of Muyuka parish, then in 1983 to Mamfe.
In 1987 Theo left Cameroon, and for a short time was assistant priest in the remote Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic. Later the same year, he returned to take a home appointment, as parish priest in the town of Obdam in the Netherlands. There he served for thirteen years. He especially enjoyed his working as spiritual director in an old peoples’ home in Bemmel.
By the year 2000, Theo felt it was time to enter into “Active retirement” at St. Josefhuis, Vrijland. As Theo celebrated his Diamond jubilee with 13 of his confreres, he wrote to the General Council, “Thank you for seeing in me a true pastor, who, wherever he was, stayed very close to his people.”
The funeral of Theo will take place on Friday the 25th of March at 11.00.am in the Missiehuis, Vrijland. May his soul rest in peace.