This is the provisional biography of Rolf Rosin. The final biographical note will be published later in the Petit Echo.
Rolf was born on May 6, 1940 in Karlsbad, in the province of Sudetenland, created as an autonomous province in 1918 by the German speakers. The Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy was in decomposition and in order not to be integrated into the Czech Republic, founded on 28 October 1918 in Prague, the German speakers preferred relative autonomy. After the Second World War, Sudetenland’s autonomy was abolished and most German speakers took refuge in Germany. Rolf’s family has chosen Bamberg in Bavaria as their new place of residence.
He grew up with two brothers in a very Christian and musical family. He attended the Deutsche Gymnasium in Bamberg and on July 18 he passed his baccalaureate. His religion teacher testified that he was one of the most attentive to religious themes and was therefore not surprised that Rolf decided for a missionary life.
In September 1962, he returned to the Major Seminary of the White Fathers in Trier. From 1964 to 1965 he did his novitiate at Hörstel and then, for theology, he went to Totteridge. On June 26, 1968, he took his missionary oath and was ordained a priest in Bamberg on June 29, 1969.
He was then appointed to the Diocese of Kasama in Zambia. He attended the language course in Ilondola and, in February 1970, began pastoral activities in the Mulobola parishes, then Chilubi and Malole for more than thirty years. In his letters to relatives, friends and benefactors, he speaks mainly of three realities of his life in Zambia: the political and economic situation, the parishes with a few dozen branches, the small Christian communities and their glorification in Europe.
His formators found that Rolf was noticed for doing the tasks required well without exaggeration. In his pastoral work, he suffered from this quality. With the exception of six months as a replacement for the diocesan treasurer in Kasama and as a treasurer in the language centre in Ilondola, he has worked in the three very large parishes of Ilondola, Chilugi and Lubishi. All three consist of a centre and a few dozen branches or sub-centres, visited only two or three times a year by the priest to celebrate the Eucharist. The Bishop came irregularly to the branches to give the sacrament of confirmation. Pastoral care was provided by catechists.
After the Second Vatican Council, the Church developed the “small Christian community” as the vital organism of pastoral care by creating small groups that met every week to read the Gospel in the given social context. Rolf was well aware of the situation in Zambia and when he was on holiday in Germany and Austria, he was surprised by the enthusiasm of Christians who, from afar, saw these small Christian communities as miraculous solutions to pastoral problems both in Africa and in Europe. He talked about it in all his letters to friends.
When Rolf arrived in Zambia, the country, which became independent in 1964, was in search of its identity. Politics proclaimed a “Zambian humanism” to solve economic difficulties. In August 1979, Christian church leaders issued a statement opposing scientific socialism, hidden in “Zambian humanism”, which would not help to overcome underdevelopment and would not guarantee the human rights of the people. Rolf, himself a refugee from Soviet communism, regularly mentions this problem in his letters. His concerns for the political and social situation surely have their origin in the fact that he had gone through the loss of his childhood country, exile and integration into another environment accompanied by material poverty.
Rolf interrupted his pastoral work three times, twice to go to Jerusalem, in 1979 to make the Great Retreat and in 1999 for the Bible course, the third time when he returned to Europe in 1985 for four years. He was appointed to Axams, 10 km from Innsbruck in Tirol where he lived in a community, newly established as a new project, with two confreres, Fr. Anton Mettrop, a Dutch confrere and Fr. Walter Vogt. The team was in charge of missionary and vocational animation. It will put in place all the means to make the Society known, not only in the parishes of the diocese and Catholic movements, but also beyond the diocesan borders. The confreres will open the doors of their homes by organizing reflection days for young people.
In December 1989, Rolf returned to the diocese of Kasama, but had to interrupt his stay several times to get treatment in Germany. In December 2006 he was appointed in the provinces. From 2007 to 2018 he was in charge of the bursar’s office in Haigerloch, in the community of elderly confreres.
During the last year of his life, he had to endure one more ordeal when the area sold Haigerloch’s house, the second foundation after Trier. The community has settled in a CARITAS house in Hechingen, about ten kilometres from Haigerloch. In February 2019, Rolf entered the university clinic in Tübingen where he died on the morning of March 2 and was buried on March 8 in the Missionaries of Africa section at Haigerloch cemetery.
Hans Vöcking, M.Afr.