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    Our dear departed

    Albert Lejoly

    Albert Lejoly

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    Albert Lejoly (1930-2022) Frederic Vital Mees small

     

    Born in Robertville (Belgium), June 3, 1930

    He was a missionary in Congo (Boma and Kinshasa).

    Died in Kinshasa, January 19, 2022, at the age of 91.

     

     

    Albert, a strong man as a hard oak, went to learn other languages during the sixty years he lived in Congo. He had to learn Kiyombe, Kiwoyo, Kisolongo, Kindibu, and a little Lingala in his later years in Kinshasa. It would be an exaggeration to suggest that he was fluent in all of these languages. But, at the very least, he was well understood and accepted everywhere he went because of his big smile and kind gestures. He had been to Dizi, Vaku, Tseke Mbanza, and Kangu in Mayum­be. However, he spent more than ten years in Moanda.

    Charles Umba Nzuzi, a faithful parishioner, and his family have a vivid memory of Albert when he was in the company of Pierre Destrebecq in Moanda:

    Father Albert could not stay put, he went everywhere on foot in the city of Moanda and was often welcomed in the families. We enjoyed having him around because he told us stories, was interested in what we were doing and shared our joys and sorrows. He frequently visited the islands, and there are many of them here at the river’s mouth in the ocean. The Basolongo and the Bawoyo always well appreciated the motorized canoe. Father Albert had a perfect memory and remembered many of our names. He repeatedly told us that he would die and be buried in the Congo because it had become his home.

    Albert will have traveled thousands of kilometers in “his country” on foot, by dugout canoe, and by car. After thirty years in the diocese of Boma, he accepted a request from the bishop of the neighboring diocese of Matadi. As a result, he and the late Gerard Jacobs took over the parish of Luvaka, located 200 kilometers from Kinshasa. He started raising sheep there, which he rented out. However, the confreres who lived in Kimpangu had no idea what happened to the livestock after Albert’s departure. Albert had joined Jean Beckers and Paul Jacquemart in Kimpangu after Gerard’s death. There, too, it was necessary to learn other languages and customs, which never stopped him from moving around the villages.

    Due to his age, he was obliged to go to the Congregation’s rest home in Kinshasa. However, this did not stop him from continuing to circulate and make contacts. In fact, he frequently visited people with disabilities who lived in an institution not far from the rest home where he was staying.

    In order to attract attention and initiate a conversation with retirees, he would sing songs in Kiyombe or other languages he knew, or he would begin quoting one or more proverbs.

    Many Congolese who knew him were present at his funeral in Kinshasa, in addition to our confreres and some priests from the diocese of Boma.

    Now we can say that Albert has gone to heaven to learn a new language, the language of the angels.  

    Jean Peeters (In collaboration with Paul Jacquemart and Adrien Rion)


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