Wim was born in Tilburg on the 20th November 1926. He wanted to become a missionary and he received the first part of his training at St. Charles, near Boxtel, and ‘s-Heerenberg. He took his Temporary Missionary Oath on the 17th September 1948, taking the religious name Winfried which was the custom for the Brothers at the time.
Wim had a sound judgement, which was mild and well-considered. He worked with great dedication, with care and a great sense of order; when others left things lying around, Wim tidied up after them. He knew his own mind and he persevered at any task given to him. He was good and cheerful by temperament but he could become nervous and then blow his top. He liked taking initiatives, enjoying working out how something could be improved especially in areas of tailoring and the lighting of spaces. He would consult books, ask-around and try-out. He loved flora-and-fauna. During his formation he taught drawing to the newcomers.
Wim learned tailoring during his training at ‘s-Heerenberg. As there were about a hundred students and staff, quite a few gandouras and burnouses needed to be sewn up and repaired. In 1949, he moved to the procure in Boxtel as receptionist and cook. He did so with great care, forever busy, and always ready to render a service. In 1951, for about nine months, he did the same work in Santpoort for the 3 confreres involved in building the Lavigerie minor-seminary. He moved to the procure in Rotterdam in November 1951, always engaged in the same type of work. He was appointed to the minor seminary in Sterksel in February 1952 for technical services. After Easter 1954, he returned to Boxtel. He took his Perpetual Missionary Oath in‘s-Heerenberg on the 7th August 1954 and the following September, he moved to Mariënthal, Luxembourg, for 2 years further training in areas such as carpentry and electricity.
Wim left for Zambia in October 1956. He was appointed to Lubushi minor seminary for technical services. This meant looking after major repairs and the regular maintenance of buildings and machinery such as the electricity generator. He also built a large hen-house. He wrote in August1959, “I really feel at home here.” However, due to liver and gall bladder problems, he needed a quieter work environment. After Easter 1960, he became the receptionist and cook in our community at Woodlands, Lusaka. He wrote in June1961, “Our house is like a hotel! Confreres come and go. ” Often, he had to go and buy extra bread and things in the afternoon because more visitors had arrived than had been expected. By the end of 1961, seven rooms and a larger prayer-room had been added and the dining-room was also enlarged.
In January 1963, Wim was earmarked to be the bursar/manager of the Ilondola Language and Retreat-Centre. He was asked to follow a bookkeeping course which he did after his home-leave, where he acted as bursar of the Sterksel minor seminary from mid-February to mid-May. He arrived in Ilondola at the end of June 1963. The building of the centre was in full swing and it was expected to be ready sometime in 1964. However, a retreat/study-session was already booked for October and at the end of the year a group of young confreres started their six months course in Bemba language and culture. Wim wrote in August, “I first started a good vegetable-garden. … Now we are transforming the bush into a shady wood for the retreatants to walk in. ” There were also 30 cows to be looked after; their manure being good for the garden and some chickens. It was a restful place.
In 1969, the Language Centre had 20 students, of whom 5 were Sisters. They came from Belgium, Canada, England, France, Germany, Latin-America and the Netherlands. Wim commented, “Quite a lot to provide ‘grub’ for all”! From then on, the Centre gave courses twice a year.
Wim moved to the Bishop’s house in Mbala in October 1971 again as maintenance man. In November 1976, we see him doing the same work as Lubushi minor seminary. He rewired the whole complex in 1980 having it ready in time for the celebrations of the Golden Jubilee of the seminary in October of that year. His Regional wrote in March 1984, “His services are highly appreciated. He gets along quite well with his little team of workers.” At the beginning of 1983, a Zambian Rector was appointed and there was a great deal of mutual respect and esteem between Wim and himself.
Wim went for a year to the Bishop’s house in Mansa in May 1986 before going on to Lubwe in February 1987 for general maintenance work. He went on home leave at the end of May 1988 but did not return to Zambia until March 1990 for medical reasons. He returned to Kasaba in Mansa Diocese for what was to be his last project ensuring the provision of water and electricity and general maintenance services. Two volunteers from the Volunteer Mission Movement came to help in 1991.
Wim returned to the Netherlands for good in June 1992. His Regional wrote, “Winfried was a very dedicated man and a true craftsman for all sorts of maintenance-work. The Zambia Region is very grateful to him for his contribution to a great number of institutions.”
In September 1992, Wim joined our community in Breda, moving on to Tilburg in December 1993 and then, in January 1995, he was appointed to Heythuysen for general maintenance. When the new building in Heythuysen was completed in 2009, Wim and Bro. Bert van Zutphen got the flats ready for occupation. In 2011, Wim was asked to become a member of the Facilities Committee. He helped confreres with repair work and rain-proofed the wood of the bicycle shed. However, he had to cut back on this kind of work because of failing eye-sight. He died peacefully in his flat on the 18th February 2017.
The characteristic of Jesus, which Wim highlighted in his life, was, “ I choose you … that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide”. John 15, 16.
Together with relatives and friends, we buried him in our St. Charles’ cemetery on the 24th February 2017.
Marien van den Eijnden, M.Afr.