Andreas was born in 1934 as second last of 10 children into a family who was operating a small farm. His father, who worked in the local salt-mine, died in 1942. In November 1945, at the age of 11 years, he entered the re-opened “Missionsschule” in Haigerloch. In 1948, he moved on to the White Father’s school in Grosskrotzenburg, where he finished his secondary education with the “Abitur” in 1953. He studied Philosophy in Trier from 1953 till 1955.
In August 1955 he entered the Novitiate in Alexandria Bay, U.S.A. From there he moved on to Eastview/Ottawa for his theological studies (He took his Missionary Oath on the 20th June 1959) and he was ordained there on 19th September 1959. In January 1960, he returned to Germany to celebrate the Eucharist in his home parish. In May of the same year he started his missionary work in Malawi ( at the time still Nyasaland) at first, helping at Mpherere Parish (Lilongwe Diocese) and then from June 1961 as Education Secretary of the Diocese of Dedza.
In December 1963 he was recalled to Germany, in order to teach at the house of philosophy in Trier. At the same time he did some further studies at the Theological Faculty of Trier, obtaining a License in Theology.
In November 1967 he was appointed to Lusaka, Zambia, as chaplain to the Army in “Regiment parish”, but already, in April 1968, he became its Parish Priest. In 1969, together with a Canadian White Sister, he started organizing the parish according to the pastoral method of “Small Christian communities”, a method that later on would be adopted by all the dioceses of Eastern Africa (AMECEA).
In 1974 he was elected to attend the General Chapter as a delegate of the Region of Zambia. Shortly after returning from there, he was asked to found a new Parish in a shanty-town of Lusaka, called Marapodi-Mandevu. He agreed to this appointment under condition that he would be allowed to live among the people. He lived there for about 5 years and he often repeated that these were the happiest years of his missionary career.
In 1979 he was appointed “Pastoral Coordinator” of the Archdiocese of Lusaka, a work consisting mainly in the training of lay-people to get involved in catechesis and liturgy and in leading “Small Christian Communities”. After some time this brought him into conflict with the then Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo. Therefore he resigned from this work and returned to Germany in January 1982.
Since it was unlikely that under the circumstances he would return to Zambia pretty soon, he was asked to work in the Project Department of MISSIO. This gave him the opportunity to have daily contact with African bishops and to visit quite a number of African countries, like Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Gambia, Senegal, Cape Verde, Chad, Cameroon, Togo, Burundi, Rwanda, Congo and still others. After four years, being afraid of being “promoted” to more administrative work he asked to return to Africa and went back to his “first love”; Malawi.
So in July 1986, he returned to Malawi and was appointed Parish Priest in Kanengo, one of the Lilongwe town Parishes. Pastoral work in town can be very demanding, because if you want to meet people, you must visit them after working hours. For that reason, in July 1993, he moved to a rural Parish and was appointed Parish Priest of Mua in Dedza Diocese, where he was able to cooperate closely with a pioneer in “Inculturation”, Fr. Claude Boucher. But after celebrating 40 years of Priesthood in a truly inculturated ceremony in September 1999, he returned to Germany, convinced that only Africans could really create an ‘African Church’.
Back in Germany he was appointed Superior of the community of Trier in November 1999, but in April 2003 he was asked to go to Haigerloch in order to organize the ‘Centenary Celebrations’ of the house, which took place in July of that year, as he was a ‘Native’ of the Region. He stayed on in Haigerloch after handing over responsibility into younger hands in Mach 2008. In his room one would discover an ever increasing number of small figures of tortoises. He considered these as expression of his life’s motto: “if you want to go forward in life, you have to stick your neck out”!
Composed by Fr. Andreas Edele himself
Andreas spent the last years of his life in Haigerloch as superior and doing pastoral work. He officially retired in 2008. He died in Balingen Hospital on the 22nd July 2017.