St. Jozefhuis, The Netherlands -Celebrating Our Jubilarians

Today, Sunday 2nd July, we celebrated three of our fellow residents at St Jozefhuis and Zilverheuvel (formerly Vrijland) in Oosterbeek, The Netherlands.

Huub de Bij (65), Piet Korse (60) and Theo Geurtsen (50) all had their very special place in the spotlight together with close family and, of course the assembled residents of Zilverheuvel and St Jozefhuis.

Jac Hetsen presided over the celebratory Eucharist together with Wim van Gastel.

An extensive preprandial and a scrumptious Chinese buffet lunch completed the festive occasion.

Here is Jac’s homily in full:

A jubilee day always reminds me of the discussion in our Congregation about being a missionary priest or brother or associate. It was even decided at a General Chapter that we would celebrate the perpetual oath we take as missionary priests and brothers rather than ordination. In practice, that didn’t last long, although obituaries always mention the two separately.

Our jubilarians can all look back on long experiences in other cultures in other parts of the world.

Piet Korse as a missionary, first in Congo among the Mongo people, then in Uganda among the Basoga in Jinja diocese. He was known for his deep anthropological approach to the languages and customs of the local population. Nor did he rest on hius laurels when he came to Oosterbeek. The grape harvest from the greenhouse is a sign of this, as are the 43 publications he has to his name with, as an encore, a critical reflection on the image of God in the Bible.

Huub de Bij told me that he first worked in England for 13 years and contributed in particular to the new construction at St Joseph’s college Mill Hill. When appointed to India he crisscrossed the country in the company of Hans Wijngaards.

Theo Geurtsen has worked in Kenya, East Africa and Cameroon, West Africa. After that he was active in parish ministry in the Netherlands, served as procurator to the Dutch Region, lent his services as bursar and accompanier of our elderly missionaries in close cooperation with Arie Braak in Vrijland then has been for years as a procurator, as a man of finance in the Netherlands and has also functioned as a counselor for our elderly in Missiehuis Vrijland – now renamed Zilverheuvel.

It is a happy coincidence that today’s gospel speaks about God and family ties, on this day when we have so many relatives with us. Choosing Jesus and participating in his mission can cause division. And may involve distance from normal affective ties. Jesus’ love for his Father does not exclude love for fellow humans. The love we receive from him enriches the affection with which we live in communion with people. He points to the ‘more’, appreciates the family. God is more than family. And he does not write off the family, but he had distanced himself from it. When his mother and his brothers want to speak to him, Jesus says: “He/she who does the will of my father in heaven, is my brother and sister and mother” (Mt 12,45)

For a long time Christians in the West have lived in a broad-based popular Church where everything was passed on naturally and there was little opposition. Our world today has changed completely. Being or becoming a Christian is now a choice. Maybe someone who goes to church on Sunday is even looked at with some pity.

Nice to have so many relatives with us here today. It shows how much you appreciate your family member who has worked as a missionary for so many years. You provided our colleagues with a “cup of cold water” when he came on vacation. Your hospitality puts you among  those who will “enter his Kingdom of peace and joy”.

Jac Hetsen MHM

Similar Posts