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    Our dear departed

    Wim Goossens

    Wim Goossens

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    Frederic Vital Mees smallWim Goossens (1926-2022)

    Born in Turnhout (Belgium) on July 25, 1926
    First vows on September 8, 1944
    Ordained a priest on February 2, 1950
    Missionary in Congo (Kasayi), Rome, Zambia, and Belgium.
    Died in Sint-Pieters-Leeuw (Belgium) on August 11, 2022,
    at the age of 96.

    Wim was the CICM’s Superior General (1967–1974). The older confreres recall this. Those were the turbulent years following the Second Vatican Council. A cry for radical change was resounding worldwide. The Church needed to renew itself. And there was a strong desire for liberation from injustice in Latin America. Wim had studied church history and could place this situation in a broader context. And  with his Council, he launched on the path of renewal. He called it “aggiornamento,” an Italian word he would frequently use in discussions and reflections years later. Those years had left an impression on him, and he was right to be proud of them. A large portion of these reflections was published in “Kindle the Fire” in 1974, following the 8th CICM General Chapter and his term of office.

    Wim brought this spirit of revitalization and renewal to a new adventure, a new mission, Zambia. There, he could be the missionary he imagined himself to be: in the community, with brothers of various nationalities, sober, close to the people, and speaking the people’s language. His main task was to establish basic Christian communities and train their leaders. Wim was soon called to teach church history at the seminary and contribute to the diocese’s monthly publications. Zambia was his mission field for 28 years.

    The “pater familias,” the father of the family, as he was often called among confreres, was 76 years old when he moved to Belgium permanently in 2002. Sint-Pieters-Leeuw (Zuun) had become his new home and mission. He spent his time there learning and reading extensively. His interest in the development of CICM, as well as his openness to what was going on in the Church and the world, received a new motivation. From there, he traveled by train, streetcar, or bus to his family in Turnhout and other places where people needed him. During his last 20 years in Belgium, Wim met many people. Following the announcement of his death, the outpouring of condolences was unanimous. They praised Wim for his openness, empathy, willingness to listen, insight, wisdom, discretion, and serenity, among other qualities. These characteristics gave those who met him direction and inspiration in their lives. But first and foremost, they gave direction to his own life.

    When he had to let go in the last few years gradually, and when he had become physically dependent, his muted response to those who cared for him was gratitude and respect. “My way of the cross has begun,” he confided to someone. Then, every afternoon, at the same time, he was seen meditating, sometimes awake, sometimes drowsy, at the front left of the chapel. His presence there refers to the foundation on which his entire life was built: his faith in a personal God who accompanied him for 96 years.

    Wim, that is how long it took you to finish your life. You have demonstrated how life can have meaning through humility and conviction. We have had the privilege of witnessing this. Gratitude and respect are now among our responses. Thank you, Wim. 

    Jan Reynebeau