12.12.2009

Missions - the tough moments

From time to time we run the missionary musings of Fr Nick Castelijns in this blog. He has a wide readership. His gentle, often amusing comments but ones which also show a deep love for his people 'ad gentes' is something people find inspiring. What follows is another side of missionary life - but death and martyrdom have also been inspiring since the beginnings of Christianity!

The following came to me from Fr John Coleman SDB, South Africa. Note that the funeral is today - we pray for Fr Louis Blondel.....

Father Louis Blondel was shot dead in his presbytery in Diepsloot during the night 6th/7th December 2009. Four people had allegedly broken into Presbytery. Father Louis, 70, was member of the Missionaries of Africa, a French society of Catholic missionaries dedicated to serving the people of Africa.

Three of the intruders were boys who got in through a window, which they had forced open, while an older man waited outside. Father Guido Bourgeois, who lived in the house with Father Louis was the first to wake up. He was robbed of 50 rand and his cellular phone. The intruders then went to Father Louis' bedroom and shot him when he opened his bedroom door. Father Guido ran into the kitchen and managed to block the door with the fridge. He started screaming to wake the neighbours. Some neighbours came out but were forced back inside as there was more shooting. After the intruders fled, Father Guido came out and discovered Father Louis Blondel lying dead in his room. The police arrived quickly as did Father Sean O'Leary, the superior of the Missionaries of Africa in South Africa.

Louis Blondel was born in the north of France. He spent the early years of his missionary life in Tanzania. In 1987 he moved to South Africa and began to work in the Archdiocese of Johannesburg. He took up residence in Zondi Parish in Soweto. He also taught Philosophy at St Peter’s Seminary, Hammanskraal. Six years later he took a keen interest in the development of the Orange Farm area. In this he was a true pioneer. He found the first plot, built a community house, a church and a trade school. Over the years he built another eight outstations. Along with the buildings was the establishment of vibrant communities that have expanded over the years. In 2008 ago he moved to Diepsloot in the Archdiocese of Pretoria where had he built a church and community house.

According to Father Sean O'Leary, Father Louis Blondel had big plans for the area. "Alas, these plans were not to be" he said. "Louis returns to his maker as a true pioneering missionary who dedicated all his life to the poorest of the poor. He remains one of our unsung heroes."

Father Louis Blondel is the fourth Catholic priest to be murdered in South Africa this year.

The funeral will be on Saturday at 11am in Diepsloot.
We ask for your prayers for Father Louis, his family and confreres and the many communities whose life he touched.

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