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    Our dear departed

    Jan Debruyne

    Jan Debruyne

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    Jan Debruyne


    Born in Gullegem (Belgium) on July 4, 1941
    First vows on September 8, 1962
    Ordained a priest on August 4, 1968
    He was a missionary in DR Congo (Kasayi) and Belgium.
    Died in Kortrijk (Belgium) on December 8, 2022, at the age of 81.


    Jan and his twin brother, Rik, grew up in rural postwar Gullegem. When the time came, Rik joined the army, and Jan joined CICM.

    In March 1970, he left for the Congo and began his missionary life as an itinerant priest at the Muetshi Mission in the Western Kasai Province. He served for 15 years in various places and with multiple responsibilities.

    Jan worked briefly in Arlington, Virginia, and Brussels, Belgium, before becoming a chaplain for the Belgian Army in Germany. Again, his bond with his twin brother helped him accept this responsibility. He had enthusiastically served in this “on land and sea” role for 20 years! He was a passionate and proud military Chaplain. He could tell amusing stories about military missions in crisis. He also told a story about life at sea, specifically how he once found himself in the water and was expertly rescued.

    The Navy introduced Jan to the parish of Heist-aan-Zee in Belgium. Eventually, he became the pastor of St. Blasius in Vlissegem, Belgium. This was the beginning of a new era in his life. He rose to prominence as a beloved pastor. In addition to his many friends from the Congo and his time as a “Padre” in the army, he found countless friends and family in the parish of St. Blasius. Jan had good contacts everywhere to help people in need. He also knew the Trappists in Westvleteren and the best places in the country for homemade smoked ham in the countryside.

    Jan’s activities were slowed down in 2009 due to heart problems. As a result, he moved to the CICM house in Kortrijk. However, he remained the tireless bee wherever he went: in the kitchen and the garden, near the flowers, and in the woods.  His favorite pastime was shopping, which he did with great enthusiasm. He kept in touch with his many friends. Despite his growing medical file, he continued to help, especially in the kitchen. Even when the house nurse found him unconscious in his chair in the early morning of December 8, the trolley with the vegetables he had cut for lunch was next to him. Then, unexpectedly, he left us.

    With the great sadness of Jan’s death comes gratitude for the warm strength he radiated. With faith, we entrust Jan to God’s merciful love. May his soul rest in peace.

     Jozef Laevens