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    Our dear departed

    Marcel Dobbelaere

    Marcel Dobbelaere

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    Frederic Vital Mees smallMarcel Dobbelaere (1935-2021)


    Born in Ledeberg (B) on February 8, 1935
    First vows on September 8, 1958
    Ordained Priest on August 4, 1963
    Missionary in Haiti and Belgium
    Died in Kortrijk on January 10, 2021 at the age of 85

    “Be brave, Marcel, and may God bless you and help you,” I told Marcel the last time we spoke by phone, the day before he was admitted to the intensive care unit at the hospital. He replied, “Thank you for calling me. Take care of yourself, Jozef.” I didn’t know that this would be my goodbye to Marcel.

    We were good neighbors for seven years. He was a chaplain at the Rest and Care Home (RCH) in Eke while I was in De Pinte. When the confreres of the area met four times a year, we used to go there together. We always had friendly conversations. When he moved to Kortrijk in May 2018, I missed him, but fortunately, we were able to meet every first Tuesday of the month again for get-to-gathers at the CICM house in Kortrijk. But then came the cri­sis of Covid-19...

    Marcel had prepared well his funeral service with chosen and written texts, prayers, and texts for the farewell liturgy and his fu­neral image. He wanted it to be as simple as possible. Marcel’s sim­plicity, humility, kindness, friendship, service, and gratitude are some of the qualities that those who knew him in the places where he was sent as a CICM missionary can testify to.

     “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40). These are the words that Marcel tried to put into practice as a priest in the parishes of La Gonâve, Pignon, Mombin Crochu, Saintard, as an administrative director of APAAC (Association for the Prevention of Alcoholism and Other Chemical Addictions), and as Treasurer in Port-au-Prince, at the service of the confreres in Haiti.  He did the same in Belgium, as Treasurer in Schilde and as Vice-Rector in Zuun.

    I have heard several times from relatives of residents of the RCH Lichtervelde in Eke how Marcel as chaplain visited the rooms every afternoon during the week. He listened to the joys and sorrows of the people. He had coffee with them in the cafeteria, and his generous smile and jokes were appreciated.

    Marcel bravely endured his ailments of old age. A few years ago, his eyes grew weak and faint, and in 2018, he had to stop pre­siding at the Eucharist for the residents and sisters of the RCH. Then came the move to the CICM house in Kortrijk and the challenge of adapting and integrating into the culture of West Flanders...

    He always nourished his vocation as a religious missionary and priest with a deep prayer life. I often saw him praying in the chapel, even before the confreres arrived for morning prayer during the CICM-BNL meeting days.

    Marcel wrote a beautiful prayer of thanks for his funeral photo:

    “Thank you
    to the Lord my God, who was always close to me in all circumstances, good and not so good.

    Thank you
    To you, my confreres, and to all those I have known and met, for the affection and the lasting bond.

    Thank you
    To you, my good friends, from near and far, for your friendship in love and loyalty, without distinction of language, color, or status.

    Across the border of life, I remain united with all of you with the Lord our God. Amen.” ■

    Jozef Lapauw