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    Daniël Lodrioor

    Daniël Lodrioor

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    Frederic Vital Mees smallDaniël Lodrioor (1934-2020)

     

    Born in Roeselare (Belgium) on September 21, 1934
    First vows on September 8, 1955
    Ordained a priest on August 7, 1960
    Missionary in DR Congo (Inongo) and Belgium
    Died in Sint-Pieters-Leeuw (Belgium) on May 21, 2020, at the age of 85.

     

    Father Daniël Lodrioor was the ninth in a family of twelve children. He was very happy in such a big family and he was always pampered by his brothers and sisters for his pleasant character and cheerful air. He had very good contacts with his brother and friend Gerard who, like him, loved and played football. That is why, during his youth and when he was at school, he organized football matches for abandoned children who did not know how to go to school, ... At the age of 26, Gerard died in a car accident: an indescribable pain for Daniël. While his brothers and sisters were choosing a career in different areas of life, Daniël wanted to be a missionary and go to Scheut since his youth.

    For me, an African, Daniël is no stranger. He arrived in the Congo, and more precisely in Beronge, my home parish, when I was not yet born. He saw me being born and growing up. It was to him that, for the first time, I expressed my desire to become a Scheutist missionary. I can still see him sitting in his armchair with a cup of coffee in his hand and answering me: "Nico, liboso, esengeli ozua state diploma na yo, na nsima tokotala" (Nico, first of all, get your state diploma, then we'll see, we will talk about it again). Two years later, it was Father Antos (Antoon Tanghe), then parish priest, who sent me to the CICM Novitiate in Mbudi, Kinshasa.
    It is at Lake Mai-Ndombe, diocese of Inongo, that Daniël will spend his entire missionary life. This will lead him to Inongo, Lokolama, Beronge, Kiri, Ibamba and Penzua. These parishes are located in a landlocked region that is difficult to access. As soon as he arrived in the mission area, he had a serious motorcycle accident in Inongo. Evacuated to Belgium for proper care, the rumor spread that he would not be seen again, forgetting God's will, the determination and bravery of his servant.
    It is difficult for me to sum up his missionary life. But if I dare to summarize it, I will start from the answer to his "losako". The "losako" is a solemn greeting from the Mongo ethnic group, which includes the Ekonda, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is addressed only to the elderly. And the answer to this greeting is usually a proverb that gives a moral lesson. Every time he was greeted: "Sango, losako!” (Father, hello), his answer was: "Bongisa balabala" (repair and build the road)! An imperative! That's why, as a sign of affection, his parishioners called him: "Sango balabala"; read: the "road father” and understand: the father who repairs and builds roads. Because he was dynamic, joyful and open-minded, he was also called "Loondo" (young man) as a sign of affection! Daniël therefore spent his entire missionary life with the Ekonda.
    Daniël's apostolate was that of development, of every man and all man. The development of a people begins with its instruction and also and above all with the building of the ways of communication, he never ceased to tell us. Daniël preached not only by word, but also by deed. Wherever he had gone, he had built not only chapels and churches, but also schools, dispensaries and ROADS. For years he had also been busy pruning trees on the Lutoy River between Ireko and Kiri, two Scheutist parishes, for the smooth flow of goods. I could not count here the bridges he had built on the swampy road and crossed by streams and rivers between Beronge-Kiri-Penzua. A way for him to open up the region, the first steps towards sustainable development!
    Daniël loved life. He shared a lot! He was sensitive to suffering. He didn't want to see anyone in pain. The joy of his parishioners was his joy. He loved people. So many memories. What to remember from him? Daniël was for his parishioners not only a shepherd who knew how to lead his sheep to the pastures in the most difficult conditions, but also the man who worked to open the Ekonda, landlocked, to the modern world by maintaining the communication routes. André Mongo, a priest of the diocese of Inongo and the first native of the parish of Beronge, writes: "He spent his life going through our forests to cry out for Jesus Christ.
    Daniël worked hard to alleviate the suffering of a population that had difficulty accessing basic necessities, given its landlocked state. Thanks to him, this population could not lack soap, hooks for fishing, oil for their kerosene lamp, salt, second-hand clothes, spare parts for bicycles, ... He succeeded in instilling in this population the spirit of his own "taking charge", by creating a cooperative, especially at a time when coffee was considered black gold.
    Because he loved life, he also loved hobbies. In the Mission, Daniël had not forgotten his youth. That's how we saw him wetting his jersey playing football with the young people from different villages thanks to the tournaments he organized in the region. Several times, he also organized football evenings during which a film was shown to teach us how to play football well. He was a football lover!
    In short, Daniël was a great and valiant missionary!
    For us Ekonda, it's a baobab tree that fell down. He preached the Good News of Christ not only in words, but also in truth: "Bomba bomba, mabe! (Truth sets free!), he said! He had put into practice this word of Christ: "As often as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me" (Mt 25:40). Even today, his missionary works still speak, especially in Beronge, Ibamba, Kiri and Penzua. A true testimony of love! Daniël passed from this world to his Father on the holy day of the Ascension, a symbol! After having accomplished his mission among us with love, generosity, courage and determination, the Lord calls him and draws him with him into his glory: "Good and faithful servant, come and rejoice with me". (Mt 25:21). ■
     
    by Nicolas Lokula Lukulo

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