Book about the life of René Graat MHM – in Dutch
White hoarfrost on the grass. A cold winter morning in the southern hill country of Limburg. A group of people together in the open air: ‘corona/omnicron proof’. Reason: the presentation of a 360-page book about Mill Hill missionary René Graat, who died in the first corona wave. Warm words, a speech from the mayor, guitar music with stiff fingers and an old-timer pick-up with steaming coffee and tea. Someone up there has been smiling and watching.
The presentation of the book took place in Banholt in front of the home of the chairman of the René Graat Foundation mhm, George Deswijs. He led the book project on behalf of the foundation.
René Graat worked as a missionary in Congo for 37 years. His last mission was a parish in South Limburg. Where he made himself very popular and indispensable. And where he is now a cherished memory. In book form. Title: ‘Sango René Graat mhm – Hineni’.
Early in the morning on the day of the presentation, interested parties could pick up one of the six hundred copies of the book. One of them, Hans Kling, chaplain at the hospital in Maastricht: “René was someone who found a way in care especially in non-standard situations. We still haven’t found anyone who can do this.” Kling then walked to his car with ten copies under his arm…
Huub Graat, René’s youngest brother, spoke on behalf of the family: “The title ‘Hineni’ could not have been chosen more appropriately: ‘Here I am!’. When you called on René, he immediately did what was in his power to do.”
Anna Bessems about the book: “The photo on the cover was not chosen by chance.
It symbolizes the fact that René, in order to help people, regularly leaned a little further than others over the regular fence. Even when a dark cloud threatened… As long as he could help responsibly. A pragmatic and not a dogmatic approach. That was René.”
The publication about René Graat mhm has become a colorful book weighing one and a half kilos. With 355 photos on 360 pages of 150 grams paper in an edition of 600 copies. The text is based on dozens of interviews with family, parishioners and fellow student Jim Craig from Ireland.
Paul de Schipper