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    Our dear departed

    Lode Wostyn

    Lode Wostyn

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    Frederic Vital Mees smallLode Wostyn (1937-2020)


    Born in Tield (B) on October 17, 1937
    First vows on September 8, 1960
    Ordained Priest on August 4, 1963
    Missionary in the Philippines and in Belgium
    Died in Torhout (B) on October 2, 2020 at the age of 82.

    Father Lode was the eldest son in a family of eight children. He studied humanities at St. Joseph's College in Tielt, where he excelled as in academics as a student and was a champion runner in 400-meter race. In 1956, he went to the Major Seminary of Bruges, and after a year of philosophy, he was sent to Leuven to obtain a degree in biology. He graduated with great distinction, but Lode then decided to join the CICM missionaries.

    After studying theology in Scheut and Leuven, Lode was sent to the Catholic University of Lyon by his Superiors to obtain a licentiate and a doctorate in theology. The Second Vatican Council had already begun and sig­nificantly influenced his thinking and actions.

    In September 1968, he was sent to the Philippines, passing through the USA for a short English course. Upon his arrival in the Philippines, Lode first became a professor at San Carlos Seminary in Manila, and shortly after he taught at Maryhill School of Theology and other theological institutes. He later became director of the Institute of Philosophy and Re­ligion at Saint Louis University in Baguio. In 2015, Father Lode re­turned to Belgium for good.

    Let us try to describe who Father Lode was. To be a missionary, a re­ligious, and a priest was his voca­tion. He wanted to live this vocation as a theologian and professor of theology. He was comfortable with many theological themes, from liberation theology to missiology. Christology and Ecclesiology fasci­nated him the most. We can say with great confidence that Lode spent his entire life asking the ques­tion that Jesus asked his disciples: “Who do you say I am?”.

    Lode was very critical and did not like pious and sentimental theories. Jesus and the Church were dear to his heart. Unfortunately, there is still no perfect Church. Per­haps that's why he considered him­self to be the "angry theologian." Yet his enthusiasm inspired hun­dreds of laypeople, religious and seminarians to know Jesus better and to make the Church more beau­tiful.

    A former colleague described him as a faithful disciple of Jesus of Nazareth and the Kingdom of God; a servant of the Church of the Poor; a good-humored, pleasant, and good friend of colleagues and stu­dents; author of many books and essays on theology. A former stu­dent wrote: "Thank you, Father Lode, for your knowledge and pas­sion and for simply being yourself as a professor of theology. Thank you for being so professional and for the many anecdotes and the at­mosphere you always created during your lessons.

    But Lode was more than just a professor of theology. As a missionary, he wanted to be close to the people. When he arrived in the Philippine national language, he spared no effort to understand and speak Tagalog, the Philippines' national language. He was proud to teach in the national language. His excellent knowledge of Tagalog brought him closer to the people and allowed him to communicate with them. On the weekends, he helped our confreres in the parishes around Manila and participated in the Eucharistic celebrations in Tagalog. He enjoyed visiting confreres during the long summer vacations in the remote mission posts in the mountains. In this way, he got to know the Filipino soul, which benefited him as a teacher.

    During his sabbatical in the USA, Lode became interested in Swedish massage. It doesn't sur­prise us because he has always been an athlete. He became a passionate massage teacher. He has trained dozens of blind people in Swedish massage techniques. Lode has enabled many blind people in the Philippines to have a profession and income through massage. I re­member him sharing how the words of appreciation of the blind people in tears had touched him. Even though Lode could be harsh and even irritable at times, he had a big grateful heart. To a confrere passing through Belgium who visited him in Torhout last year, he said: “They take such good care of us here in the house”.

    With sadness, but also with gratitude, we say goodbye to Father Lode, the athlete who became a theologian, the young diocesan seminarian who became a Scheutist, the missionary who spoke and wrote about Jesus throughout his life. ■

    Werner Lesage and Luc Colla