It is with regret that we announce the death early on All Soul’s Day, 2nd November, at Zilverheuvel nursing home (former Missiehuis Vrijland) aged 88, of
Brother Bernard (Fons) Borgman
Mill Hill Missionary
May he rest in peace
“Whoever believes in me will live, even if he dies” (John 11:25)
The family of Johannes Borgman and Antonia Harms in Raalte was pleased on August 21, 1935 with the birth of a son who was given the names Bernardus and Johannes at his baptism. Fons, as he would be known to everyone after his brotherhood education, grew up in a warm nest with five brothers and four sisters. At the age of twelve he took the first step on the path that would ultimately lead to a life as a brother missionary. It all started in the minor seminary of the diocese of Utrecht. After his fourth year there he decided to change direction and turned to the missionaries of Mill Hill. On April 15, 1953 he was welcomed to the brotherhouse in Oosterbeek. As part of his training as a brother missionary, he took a course in agriculture and horticulture.
He had found his way and confirmed this on August 15, 1960 by taking the Eternal Oath.
Shortly thereafter, Fons was appointed to work in Saint Joseph’s College, Mill Hill, London. This turned out to be a very short appointment, since in the middle of 1961, Fons’ talents were needed again in Roosendaal Missiehuis’ farm and garden. After five years, he was again appointed to the community at Saint Joseph’s College, Mill Hill, London. In November 1968 Fons was appointed back to Roosendaal. In January, 1974 Fons received his much anticipated appointment abroad. He was appointed to work in the Diocese of Kisii, Kenya. For the next twenty-seven years, apart from a couple of journeys home for Home Leave or Sick Leave, he dedicated himself whole-heartedly to various works in different parishes in the Diocese of Kisii and in Rakwaro Seminary. He truly put his gifts, talents, faith and enthusiasm to effective and affective use in Kenya, especially in Kisii Diocese.
From 1997 to 2001, he was on the staff of the Mill Hill House off Ngong Road in Nairobi. In 2001 Fons accepted a transfer of appointment to our Mill Hill House in Kisumu, on the shores of Lake Victoria. At both these places he brought his unique cheerful personality and extended warm hospitality to many who visited.
As age caught up with him, Fons was withdrawn from the East African Region and appointed to his Home Region in the Netherlands. By that time, April 2006, he was 71 years old and he recognised with humility that it was time to let go and let God carry on His work through others. He took up residence in St. Jozefhuis, but a few years later he moved to De Zilverheuvel (formerly Vrijland House). To his life back in the Netherlands, Fons brought his typical generosity and kindness whenever he was called upon by the community. He radiated joy and cheerfulness especially to all who cared for him in De Zilverheuvel and the hospital.
On Monday, 6th November 2023, a Eucharistic celebration will be celebrated in thanksgiving for Fons’ life and his selfless services to the mission. It will start at 11 a.m. in St. Joseph’s House, after which he will be buried in our own cemetery in Oosterbeek.