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    Our dear departed

    Jozef Van Acker

    Jozef Van Acker

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    Jozef Van Acker


    Born in Ardooie (Belgium) on July 9, 1930
    First vows on September 8, 1950
    Ordained a priest on August 7, 1955
    He was a missionary in Congo (Kasayi) and Belgium.
    Died in Torhout (Belgium) on February 5, 2023, at the age of 92.


    Jozef’s (Jef) missionary life can be summed up in one sentence: he served 42 years in the Congo and 24 years in Haringe. From 1956 to 1969, he was an itinerant priest in Tshibala, Masuika, Kamuesha, and Kabuluanda. From 1970 to 1998, he was a parish priest in Mashala, Tshikula, Muetshi, and Katende. From 1999 to 2022, he was a pastor in Haringe, Roesbrugge, and Abele.

    Jef was a straightforward man who did not like to beat around the bush. He was also open. Sometimes he paid the price. He was not a man who locked himself in his rectory. He liked to be with people. He needed people. Every year he wanted to receive the confreres of West Flanders in the parish hall “De Levaard.” The program often included vespers and the singing of Willem Vermandere in the church and the dinner that followed. Everyone at the dinner had a plate of sprat on their way home.

    Jef made thousands of home visits in the Congo and Flanders. Jef was the same in the Congo as in Haringe. He visited countless families on his bicycle. He was also the devoted priest of Roesbrugge and Abele (across the border from France). Still, he found time to enjoy a good book or an exciting soccer match. He was grateful for the support of the Sisters, the many volunteers, and the sympathizers. He cherished the love of his family.

    He realized that he was “all right” because of so many people. Much of his enthusiasm, however, was dampened by Covid-19. The restrictions placed on the pastoral unit made him tired, and when the body could no longer cooperate, something gave way.

    After his hospitalization, Jef went to the CICM house in Torhout. It was not his ideal moment, but he remained radiant until the end. Jef serenely let go of everything and closed his eyes to join the Lord. With the Congolese who knew him and the parishioners of Haringe, we are grateful for Jef’s life.

    It is as if Pope Francis knew Jef when he wrote the following words “that the old saying will always be true: ‘Where there are religious, there is joy.’ We are called to know and show that God is able to fill our hearts to the brim with happiness; that we need not seek our happiness elsewhere.”

    Arnold Quartier