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    Our dear departed

    Jozef Vandenhout

    Jozef Vandenhout

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    Frederic Vital Mees smallJozef Vandenhout (1931-2020)


    Born in Turnhout(B) on November 21, 1931
    First vows on September 8, 1953
    Ordained priest on August 3, 1958
    Missionary in Congo (AFA), Germany and Belgium.
    Died in Torhout (B) on 11 May 2020 at the age of 88



    Father Jef, as we called him, grew up in the family as the eldest of three brothers and three sisters. After his studies in humanitarian sciences, he en­tered the novitiate in Scheut. Af­ter the novitiate, he studied phi­losophy in Néchin and Scheut, then theology in Kessel-Lo and Louvain. During his studies, he was already known as a good draftsman. Sometimes we called him Nico instead of Jef because there was a confrere with the same name who distinguished himself in the art of drawing.

    A year after his ordination, he left for Congo, in the diocese of Luluabourg, in the Kasayi region. He lived there for 15 years and worked as a “road father” in four mission posts, as a teacher at the minor seminary in Kabwe, and as a parish priest in Tshibala. Jef was a person loved by the people as well as by his confreres.

    In 1975, Father Gerard Bulcke, then Provincial, informed his con­freres that the local clergy in Kananga felt uncomfortable be­cause of the large number of Euro­pean priests and that those who wished to leave were allowed to request another mission province. Jef went on leave that same year and asked to go to Latin America.

    During his leave, Jef replaced a former confrere who was a mili­tary chaplain in the barracks of Westhoven, near Cologne. He stayed there for three years. While preparing for a new apostolate in the army, he was called to Scheut in 1978 to become the provincial house's Treasurer. He fulfilled this task conscientiously for three years. During his term of office, he designed the Chinese Museum and developed the photo gallery.

    In 1981, he became chaplain and, from 1986, chief chaplain of the gendarmerie stationed in Brussels. He carried out this mission with great enthusiasm until his retirement in December 1996. For the last four years of his career, he was also an admin­istrator of the parish of Hakendover, near Tienen. Un­der his influence, the blessing and procession of horses was re­vived. In 1997, when he was 65 years old, Jef retired and moved to Diksmuide, where the pastoral workers of deanery Diksmuide-Veurne could still call on him.

    In short: 15 years in the Congo, 15 years in the gendarmerie, and an­other 20 years of his retirement that we could take advantage of. In August 2017, he moved to the community of Torhout to receive appropriate care. The members of this community called him Fa­ther Jef, Jef, or Jefke. He was pro­vided with the best care, but it be­came life in a wheelchair for him. In the last few months, eating and drinking became difficult. He died very slowly in the early morning of Monday on May 11, 2020.

    At the request of his brother and sister, who still live in Turnhout, the funeral with a celebration of the Eucharist took place on Fri­day, May 15, in the community of Schilde, presided by Rector Luc Colla. The urn was placed in our cemetery in Schilde. The con­freres of Torhout held a vigil at their home in the early evening, saying goodbye to an honest and generous man. ■

    by Werner Lesage