On a fine, bright and sunny Sunday, 10th July 2016, jubilarians, brothers and guests met in a good spirit for the Jubilee Mass at 11 o’clock in the Chapel of the Missionshaus in Brixen. Hans Stampfer and Leonhard Wiedemayr celebrated their Diamond Jubilee, both of them having been ordained on the 8th of July 1956 in Mill Hill, almost exactly 60 years ago.
Hans Stampfer had been working in the Philippines for twelve years before he had to come back to Europe. Then he worked for 13 years in Münster, 12 years on the General Council in Milll Hill and 8 years in the Procure in Rome. In 2002 he retired to Herberthaus in Brixen where for many years he did supply work in different parishes.
Leonhard Wiedemayr was sent to the USA to study Maths and Physics for four years before being sent to Uganda where he had been working in different fields for 54 years. First he worked as a teacher but more and more he went into pastoral work and building up Parishes and Christian Communities. In his last years of missionary work in Uganda he even took upon himself a dangerous challenge up in Soroti Diocese. Two years ago Leonhard retired to the Missionshaus in Absam.
The two Golden Jubilarians, Adolf Pöll and Leonhard Steger, for different reasons could not be present personally but of course they have been commemorated in the celebration. Adolf Pöll after ordination was appointed to be the M.D. in the College in Brixen before he was sent to Kenya. Because of his jolly character he soon got the nickname „Fr. Halleluja“. For the past forty years he has been working in West Kenia, the last six years facing a very difficult challenge in the North East of Kenya.
Leonhard Steger left for Pakistan immediately after the Ordination 1966 and has been there ever since. He is a persistent worker and testimonial for the small Christian community in a mainly Muslim surrounding. Not only has he taken on the attitudes of the natives but he even looks like one of them. If nothing else, maybe it’s the food that made him change his appearance?
Br. Franz Kristler and Fr. Alexander Wolf celebrated their Ruby Jubilee, the latter acting as main celebrant in the Jubilee Mass.
Alexander was ordained on May 27th 1976 in Innsbruck and was then first appointed to Sarawak. After some years he went to Kenya from there he moved on to New Zealand and later he went to South Africa before he was called back to England to do APF-work. Because of ill health Alexander withdrew from active missionary work and is now retired in Austria-Vorarlberg.
Br. Franz Kristler took his Perpetual Oath on August 22nd in his home village Toblach in South Tyrol. For 33 years he worked in Malakal in Southern Sudan in a turbulent, fierce and extremely dangerous atmosphere. He is now appointed to Herberthaus Brixen in charge of all the big and little duties and services that the community needs.
In his sermon the Regional Fr. Anton Steiner pointed to the extraordinary courage of two men referring to the reading (Jer 1,4-5.17-19) and to the Gospel (Lk 4,21-30), to Jeremiah and to Jesus. Jeremiah, having originated from a priestly family could have chosen a quiet and peaceful life, fulfilling the required duties in the temple. But instead, as a young man he chose to answer to a personal vocation that called him to be the uneasy voice of God among the people. Similarly Jesus himself could have lived a easy and generally respected life as carpenter in Galilee. And yet, at the age of thirty his life changed radically, when he answered the call of life after having been baptized in the Jordan. To be a prophet takes a lot of courage, it is very risky and nobody would want to be a prophet out of his own purposes. One can only live up to such a vocation by a proper cause, by answering to the call of Gods cause.
We may ask: why would anybody at all want to walk the trying paths of a prophet, facing doubts, insult, misunderstanding, defeat and many times loneliness?
Why didn’t they just give up and quit their commitment when it got difficult, not seldom to the extent of risking their lives? Where from did they take that tremendous courage, that strength not to give in to fear and threat? Answers may be found on many places of the Bible, e. g. in Jeremiah 1,19 where it says : ‘Even if they fight against you, they will not overcome you, for I am with you, Yahweh declares, to rescue you.’ And Jesus himself heard the comforting voice: „This is my beloved son whom I am very pleased with’! (Mt 3,17)
May be that also the Jubilarians of this day took these promises seriously, that they truly believed, that they have been strengthened in their courage to tackle whatever comes their way by the promise which we can read in the letter of St. Paul to the Romans: 31 ‘If God is for us, who can be against us? … 35
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble, distress, persecution, hunger, nakedness, danger, or a violent death do this? 37 In all these things we are triumphantly victorious due to the one who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor anything above, nor anything below, nor anything else in all creation can separate us from the love of God that is ours in union with Christ Jesus, our Lord. (Rom 8,31.35.37-39)
Trusting liberates! Jeremiah and Jesus trusted in the unconditional fidelity and truth of God’s promise. The grace to trust in God gives them the courage to speak out and to act – be it convenient or inconvenient. As Pope St. John XXIII says: ‘The one who believes is free of fear!’
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