Ordination of Dominic Kapatamoyo

On the 7th of July, the parish of Chezi in Malawi witnessed an unforgettable event as our own confrere Dominic Kapatamoyo was ordained a priest in this parish. All the roads led to Chezi parish on that day. There was a big crowd of people present to witness this memorable event as that was the first of its kind in the parish. The Lavigerie family comprising of Missionaries of Africa, Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of African, and our students in formation were present in their numbers to pray with and support Dominic Kapatamoyo. The other religious from different congregations, diocesan priests and representatives of other religious denominations, family members and friends of our confrere, as well parishioners graced the occasion. Also present were the ordaining bishop Tarsizio G. Ziyaye, Archbishop of Lilongwe and our confrere Bishop Emeritus Remy Sainte-Marie.

During his homily, Bishop Tarsizio affirmed that a priest is another Christ, who is chosen among the people and sent out to serve, console, preach, and baptise of the people of God. Teaching the people to know what the Kingdom of God entails. He agreed with Cardinal Lavigerie’s invitation to his Missionaries “to be apostles nothing but apostles”. The Bishop said a priest is to help others become apostles and that being apostles should become our being.

Ending his homily, the Bishop invited all to pray for the priest to be ordained, that the Lord may give him all the graces that he needs. Also, to pray that we may get many more Priests, Sisters and Brothers to serve the Church, since the harvest is rich but the labourers few.

Later on in an interview, the Bishop said he is touched by the fact that Dominic is the son of one of the long serving catechists of Chezi parish, Mr. Kapatamoyo. He was also happy that Dominic was ordained as priest in the Congregation of the Missionaries of Africa, adding that, “they are like our parents” since they were the first missionaries to bring the gospel to the Archdiocese of Lilongwe. He was happy about the good organisation of the event and active participation of the people, seeing it as a golden opportunity for vocation promotion.

Looking at the event, the Provincial Delegate Fr. Michel Sanou expressed his gratitude to the Christians and parishioners of Chezi for the good organisation. He expressed so much joy as to see the joy of the people especially the parents of Dominic as they gave their son to the Catholic Church. As Dominic comes from a place where there are only missionaries, the Delegate saw that as something remarkable and a challenge to other youth to give themselves to the mission too.

At the end of the Mass, the Provincial emphasised the missionary nature of our work as Missionaries of Africa, saying that like the confreres working in Chezi Parish, Dominic will mostly be working away from his home parish. On that note, he announced that the newly ordained priest is sent to Mingana, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where he spent two years for pastoral training during his initial formation.

In an interview, the Provincial Fr. Felix Phiri did not only express his joy at how well the celebration was organised and well attended. According to him, the presence of others from the protestant churches, shows a sense of solidarity among the Christians of different denominations.

The Provincial also saw the event in the sense of the 150th Anniversary celebrations, which is a visible fruit of the work of the Missionaries of Africa as Dominic is from Chezi parish, which has been under the care of the Missionaries of Africa since its beginning.

Fr. Felix remarked how the work and faith of Dominic’s father as a Catechist has been a pillar for Dominic’s vocation journey, sustained him throughout his years of initial formation. The Provincial expressed hope of getting many more vocations from the parish to join the Missionaries of Africa, with the support of the confreres in Chezi parish.

Talking with the newly ordained priest, Fr. Dominic filled with joy expressed his gratitude to God for the gift of his priestly ordination, seeing it as a humbling honour. He was impressed by the sacrifices the parishioners, confreres, family and friends, among others made since December 2017 to ensure the success of the event. He was also overjoyed by the presence of some many people, two bishops, friends from Zimbabwe, France, Ireland and Kenya, confreres, priests, sisters and brothers, and parishioners to witness his ordination. For Dominic, the presence of all these people from far and near is a sign of the Church’s unity. In a sense of gratitude, he asked God to be with him in his priestly calling.

In short, the ordination of Fr. Dominic was for us the Missionaries of Africa, a time of coming together to support, pray with and thank the Lord for the vocation of Fr. Dominic. It also served as a means of vocation promotion as a lot of us were present in our Ganduras. It also became for the parish of Chezi a moment of working together to support and pray for and with their own son. For the parents of Fr. Dominic, the celebration was prayers answered, as they have been accompanying their son with prayers since he started his formation with the Missionaries of Africa. As Missionaries of Africa, we cannot but join our confrere in thanking God for his calling, and also in thanking all those who have supported us before and during the organisation of this ordination. May God richly reward you all for the support rendered to us to make Dominic’s ordination a success.

Vitus Danaa Abobo, M.Afr.
Communications SAP


Paul Didier, R.I.P.

Father Patrick Bataille, Provincial Delegate of the sector of France,
informs you of the return to the Lord of Father

Paul Didier

on Tuesday the 17th July 2018 at Bry-sur-Marne (France)
at the age of 91 years, of which 68 years of missionary life
in Mali and in France.

Let us pray for him and for his loved ones.


Download the Notice of Death of Paul Didier

Continue reading “Paul Didier, R.I.P.”

Fernand Gruber, R.I.P.

Father Patrick Bataille, Provincial Delegate of the sector of France,
informs you of the return to the Lord of Father

Fernand Gruber

on Monday 16th July 2018 at Sélestat (near Strasbourg – France)
at the age of 84 years, of which 56 years of missionary life
in Switzerland, Zambia, Jerusalem, Germany and France.

Let us pray for him and for his loved ones.


Download the notice of death of Fernand Gruber

Continue reading “Fernand Gruber, R.I.P.”

Karl Zimmermann, R.I.P.

Father Oskar Geisseler, Provincial Delegate of the sector of Switzerland,
informs you of the return to the Lord of Father

Karl Zimmermann

on Monday July 16th, 2018 at the hospital of Sierra (Switzerland)
at the age of 93 years, of which 69 years of missionary life
in Tanzania and in Switzerland.

Let us pray for him and for his loved ones.

Download the notice of Father Karl Zimmermann’s death

Milestones in Father Karl Zimmermann’s life

Karl was born on 6 March 1925 in Lucerne, in the diocese of Basel, Switzerland. He entered the novitiate (spiritual year) of the Missionaries of Africa on December 2, 1945 at Maison Carrée, Algeria. He continued his theological training in Thibar (Tunisia) where he took his missionary oath on June 29, 1949. He was ordained a priest on 1 February 1950 in Carthage, Tunisia.

24/01/1951 Vicaire Bukumbi,Mwanza Tanganyika
26/03/1952 Vicaire Nyantakubwa Tanganyika
06/01/1955 Vicaire Bukumbi Tanganyika
18/06/1955 Petit séminaire Nyegezi Tanganyika
01/01/1959 Petit séminaire Widnau Suisse
22/09/1959 Econome Fribourg Suisse
08/05/1962 Vicaire Mwanza Tanzania
26/12/1962 Séminaire,StMary’s Nyegezi Tanzania
18/05/1968 Grande Retraite Villa Cavalletti Italia
01/01/1970 Vicaire Kirumba Tanzania
01/03/1971 Supérieur Ibindo Tanzania
01/08/1973 Supérieur Mwabagole Tanzania
01/08/1974 Vicaire Kahangala Tanzania
01/01/1975 Vicaire Buhingo Tanzania
01/04/1975 Supérieur Buhingo Tanzania
17/12/1975 seul à Itira Tanzania
01/09/1984 Session-Retraite Jérusalem Israël / Palestine
01/04/1985 Vicaire Buhingo Tanzania
01/01/1988 Teacher Minor Seminary Nyegezi,D.Mwanza Tanzania
23/05/1988 Vic.Episc.Religious Mwanza Bishop’sHouse Tanzania
15/07/1991 Curé Kawekamo,D.Mwanza Tanzania
01/05/1995 Vic.Episc.Religious Kawekamo,D.Mwanza Tanzania
30/10/1995 Nommé Suisse P.E.95/10 Suisse
01/01/1996 “Kontinente Fribourg 2 Suisse
23/08/1996 Fermeture Fribourg 2 Fribourg Suisse
25/10/1996 Ministère H.C.: Bauen Suisse
30/08/1999 Collaborateur Veyras Suisse
15/09/1999 Session +70 Roma Italia
12/04/2000 Aumônier Home H.C.: Sierre Suisse
01/07/2001 Bibliothèque Fribourg Suisse
01/04/2010 Résidence Veyras Suisse
16/07/2018 Retour auprès du Père Sierre Suisse

Armand Duval, R.I.P.

Le Père Patrick Bataille, Délégué Provincial du secteur de France,
vous fait part du retour au Seigneur du Père

Armand Duval

le vendredi 6 juillet 2018 à St-Malo (France)
à l’âge de 90 ans dont 66 ans de vie missionnaire
au Burundi, en Espagne, au Congo, à Jérusalem, au Mexique et en France.

Prions pour lui et pour ceux qui lui étaient chers.


Armand Duval

Continue reading “Armand Duval, R.I.P.”

Erwin Echtner (1940 – 2017) (PE nr. 1092 – 2018/06)

Erwin was born on the 22nd March 1940 at Gross-Leschienen in the Diocese of Ermsland in what was then eastern Prussia. His family name, at the time, was Koschewski. His father was killed during the 2nd World War. In 1945, his mother fled with her four children towards the west and after a long journey they arrived in Hechthausen in the north of Germany. In 1947, Erwin began primary school. His mother married again with Franz Echtner, who adopted the four children and they took his family name. In 1952, the family moved to Krefeld on the banks of the Rhine. Erwin finished his primary schooling there in 1955.

Erwin began his commercial studies, which he successfully finished in 1958. He got a job but he felt called by God to go on the missions. According to the reference from his employer, Erwin was described as a conscientious collaborator, easy to get on with, punctual, and respectful of his co-workers.

Erwin entered the White Fathers at Langenfeld on the 1st June 1959 to begin his postulancy. In 1960, we find him at the novitiate in Hörstel. He took his 1st Missionary Oath there on the 4th February 1962 when he was just a month shy of his 22nd birthday. From February 1962 to March 1965, he continued his training at the Brothers’ Formation Centre in Marienthal, Luxembourg.

In November 1965, Bro. Echtner left for Kipalapala in the Diocese of Tabora, Tanzania. He only studied Kiswahili for a short time before going to work at the printing press nearby. On the 1st February 1967, he was appointed as editor and manager of the Catholic newspaper, KIONGOZI. He took his Perpetual Missionary Oath in Kipalapala on the 24th February 1968. He moved to the Social Training Centre in Nyegezi near Mwanza in July 1969 before returning to the printing press in Kipalapala later the same year. He also spent some time in the procure of Dar-es-Salaam from 1971.

After many years of service in Tanzania, Erwin began to look for other horizons. His first wish was to study for the priesthood and after a long period of reflection on all sides, he began studies for the priesthood in London in January 1974. However, already by the end of the 1st term,  Erwin had to face up to the fact reluctantly that this orientation was not for him. So he had to abandon his idea of becoming a priest.

In 1976, we find Erwin in Germany as bursar of the community in Trier. His training in book-keeping and accounts meant that he felt more at ease and he was able to render a great service to the community. In 1977, he was appointed to the Afrikanum in Cologne. Here he found his true vocation and for the next 33 years he was a committed worker in the area of receiving refugee children and young people from Africa. He had his own personal experience as a refugee and he could empathise with the children coming from Angola, the Congo, Ethiopia and Somalia. These countries were experiencing constant revolts, wars and revolutions. The revolutionary leaders were putting hundreds of children on planes for Germany hoping that they would receive a good education and be able afterwards to serve their liberated countries.

Supported by Caritas and other NGOs helping refugees, Erwin gained the trust of the public service tasked with the reception of war refugees. These organisations granted him the guardianship of more than 800 children over the course of the years. The authorities gave him the responsibility of looking for places in boarding schools, register them firstly in language courses and then in schools. From time to time, Erwin even had to accommodate some children in the Afrikanum on a temporary basis. Many of these children kept in contact with Erwin after receiving vocational training or studies. For the children, he was “their father” and they were, for him, “his children.” Erwin gave a great example of charity. He showed that in a State with a well-developed social service, personal initiative was still necessary and has a place in this society. On the 26th September 2010, Erwin received the honorary prize of the city “committed to Cologne.” On the 17th July 2013, the Mayor of Cologne bestowed on him “Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany”

On the 31st of August 1990, Erwin suffered a heart attack which obliged him to reduce his activities on behalf of his “his children” many of whom had since become adults. In April 2011, he was diagnosed with cancer and he was appointed to the community at Trier where he died on the 6th October 2017. The funeral liturgy took place in the chapel of the Brothers of Charity followed by burial in our plot in the city cemetery of Trier.

Hans Vöcking, M.Afr.


Christian Schneider (1934 – 2017) (PE nr. 1092 – 2018/06)

Christian was born on the 24th July 1934 at Nesse in Upper Silesia and baptised on the following 13th August in the Church of St Jacques. He began primary school in 1941. After three years he wanted to go to a secondary school. However, as the war had just ended, Silesia was integrated into Poland and secondary school education was forbidden to German children.  This meant that Christian, at the age of 11 years, worked on the roads instead of continuing his education. In 1946, his parents and their five children took refuge in the West. They installed themselves first of all in Niedernstöcken, and then moved to Mandelsloh, both places located in Lower-Saxony. It was not until 1950 that the family moved to a permanent home in Eislingen in Baden-Wurttemberg. Despite all the coming and going and being educated in five different schools, Christian was to complete his education in the Hohenstaufen secondary school thanks to his strength of character more than anything else.

After obtaining his baccalaureat, Christian began training as a marketing person in an oil company which he finished brilliantly after three years. His father had died in a road accident in 1955 and Christian, at 21 years, had to take over as head of the family as he was the eldest child. A year later, Christian began to feel called to missionary life. His family was very supportive of his wish. Already in 1950, his father had contacted the White Fathers at Haigerloch as he was looking for a place in a secondary school for Christian. Christian renewed contact with the White Fathers at Haigerloch in July 1956 and asked for information on admission to the Society. In October of the same year, he arrived at Langenfeld to begin his postulancy. He entered the novitiate in Hörstel in August 1957. At the end of his novitiate, he took his first Temporary Oath on the 9th August 1959. He then went to the Brothers’ Training Centre in Mours, France until 1961.

He arrived at the language centre at Bukavu in the Congo in May 1963. He began working at the Institut Social Africain in 1964 as a teacher. Events in the Congo forced a return to Germany in 1967, but he was back again within a year. He continued teaching in Bukavu until 1970. Following independence in many countries and the fact that many senior civil servants from Europe left their posts without preparing people to take their place in the administration, the Society opened three social training centres in Africa; in Bukavu, (Congo), Upper Volta (Burkina Faso) and in Mwanza (Tanzania). On the 8th August 1965, Christian took his Permanent Missionary Oath in Murhesa near Bukavu.

After home leave in Germany in 1971, Christian returned to the Congo and worked in several building projects in Walungu, Kabare, Burhale, Ciherano and Walikale. He asked for exclaustration for three years in 1973 but remained in close contact with the confreres. He found work with the German Technical Cooperation Agency (GTZ) and worked for them in the Congo until 1976. The Agency wanted to extend his contract but Christian decided to re-join the Society, which he did in June 1976.

Christian then spent a year at the Ecole de Foi in Fribourg, Switzerland followed by the Session/Retreat in Jerusalem in October 1977. He then studied English in Dublin for six months. During this time, he was also asking himself some questions about becoming a priest. After consulting his superiors, he decided to remain a Brother. Moreover, he decided to return to Africa. In June 1978, he arrived in Tamale, Ghana and took on the job of bursar in the Major Seminary. At the beginnings of the 80s, doctors diagnosed heart problems. After treatment and rest, he was able to return to Africa but to Zambia this time with its gentler climate. In October 1984, he arrived in Kashikishi in the Diocese of Mansa to take charge of the building works. He had a bad fall of four metres that resulted in a complicated fracture of the knee, which meant an urgent return to Cologne for treatment. However, his Calvary was not yet over; in April 1989, he had to undergo another operation on his heart.

Nothing daunted, he returned to Zambia in February 1993. This time to Isoka in Mbala-Mpika Diocese. He was again supervising construction projects. In January 1995 at the age of 61, he accepted to go to Wukro in Ethiopia again to supervise a building project. He returned to Germany in May 1996 to take up a job in the bursar’s office in Frankfurt. However, in September 2000, he returned to Zambia for maintenance work in Kasamba and the novitiate in Kasama. In July 2002, he returned to Haigerloch where he worked as a carer in our retirement home there. In August 2009, he celebrated the Golden Jubilee of his oath. From his childhood years, Christian felt he was a foreigner in his own country and he suffered a lot because of this. These constant movements were part of his life and are signs that he was looking for a home which he finally found with the Father on the 9th August 2017 at the age of 83 in Balingen, Baden-Wurttemberg.

Hans Vöcking, M.Afr.