It is with regret that we announce the death on March 24th in Zorgcentrum De Zilverheuvel, The Netherlands, aged 87 of
Father Francis (Frans) Mol
Mill Hill Missionary
May he rest in peace
Fr. Frans Mol was born on 4th July, 1935 in Nymegen, ‘sHertogenbosch, Netherlands to Cornelius Mol and Anna Aalders. His father was a bookkeeper. He had 2 brothers and four sisters. He did his primary and secondary studies in Tilburg (1947 to 1952) and later in Haelen (1952-1955). From there, he continued in Roosendaal for philosophical studies from 1955 to 1957. He was then sent to St. Joseph’s College, Mill Hill to study Theology and to continue his missionary formation. On 5th May, 1960, he became a Perpetual Member in a ceremony held at the College Chapel in the presence of the then Superior General, Fr. Thomas McLaughlin. A year after, Cardinal William Godfrey of Westminster ordained him missionary priest at St. Joseph’s College, Mill Hill on 9th July, 1961.
Following his ordination, he was appointed to Ngong Diocese to work among the nomadic Maasai people of Kenya. He served in places like Kilgoris, Rombo, Narok, Lemek, Kajiado and others for 40 years. In 1970, he was elected local Society Superior, a post he held for most of the 70’s. He formed a Maasai Team with a strategy of setting-up a tent equipped with a well in the neighbourhood of the Maasai manyatta. The team would stay there for two or three months before going back to the main mission centre and then they would do the same to other Maasai manyatta. It was a missionary paradigm which Pope Francis would call later as ‘shepherds with the smell of the sheep’.
His love for the Maasai people was evident in his commitment to a deeper study of their language, culture and tradition in order to come to a full understanding and appreciation of their ways and to effectively share with them the Gospel. He established the Oltepesi Cultural Centre for this purpose and to be a resource for people especially the Maasai who would want to stay in touch with their roots. He authored several books on Maasai, including the two authoritative books in Maa language: Maa: a grammar of Maasai language (1995)and Maasai dictionary: language & culture (1996). He collected lots of books and newspaper items on the history, stories, language and ethnography of the Maasai people.
Frans worked slowly, deliberately and was very well organised. He was very precise about everything he did. He organised conferences on the apostolate to the nomads which were sponsored by the Commission for Immigrants and Itinerant and Nomadic Peoples and by the APF-Mill Hill. In honouring his missionary contributions to the mission of the Society to the Maasai people, Frans had been referred to as the Apostle to the Maasai.
On 4th April 1997, Frans had to leave his beloved Maasailand due to an illness that required him to recuperate in the Netherlands. Illness did not deter him from doing what he loved – studying the Maasai, compiling their stories and writing articles about their ways of life. Newspapers in the Netherlands like the ‘de Volkskrant’ published his articles and wrote about his works among the Maasai. On 1st December 1997, Frans was appointed Rector of St. Jozefhuis, Oosterbeek, a post he held for two years. In 1999, he was appointed to do research in Maa Culture and Language while serving as Vice Regional. He was elected delegate of the Dutch Region to the Chapter 2000. On 16th May 2000, he was appointed back to the East Africa Region to continue his research of the Maasai Culture through which he made ever more useful publications.
Five years later, he returned to the Netherlands taking up ministry in Schin op Geul, Limburg, Roermond Diocese. Upon reaching his 85th birthday, Frans decided to slow down a bit. On 31st August 2020, he said goodbye to Schin op Geul after more than 13 years of faithful service as a pastor there. He moved into Sint Jozefhuis on 4th September, 2020 to retire. Lately, his health went downhill and he required nursing care. He died peacefully in the evening of 24th March, 2023. On Thursday, 30th March, 2023, in thanksgiving for his life, a Eucharistic celebration will be held at 11 a.m. in St. Jozefhuis, Johannahoeve 4, Oosterbeek, after which his remains will be laid to rest in the Mill Hill cemetery there. The service will be livestreamed on this link: https://vimeo.com/event/2882273 . May he rest in peace!