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    Our dear departed

    André Vanderjeugt

    André Vanderjeugt

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    André VanderjeugtAndré Vanderjeugt

    (1933 – 2023)

    Born in Boezinge on May 19, 1933.
    Religious vows on September 8, 1954
    Priest ordained on August 2, 1959.
    Missionary in Congo (Kasai), Guatemala, Honduras and Belgium.
    Died in Torhout on Nov. 23, 2023, at the age of 90.


    André studied humanities at the college in Ypres, the city that was in ruins at the time and had started reconstruction after World War II. In 1953, he entered the CICM novitiate in Sint-Pieters-Leeuw. He studied philosophy in Anderlecht and theology in Kessel-Lo and  Leuven. In 1960, he left for his mission in the Congo.

    After a short language study in Lusambo, he first became an itenerant priest in Basubuke. The following year he was appointed as a teacher, treasurer and itenerant priest based at Kamponde College. Six years later he became an itenerant priest in Katende, and another three years later he served as treasurer at the Grand Seminary in Kabwe. All together, André served in Kasai for 15 years.

    In 1976, Guatemala was hit by a terrible earthquake, and perhaps because of what he had seen in Ypres, he volunteered to work in a reconstruction project. His tremendous service, experience and practical knowledge were highly appreciated. He remained in Guatemala until midway through 1985, with brief engagements in between as chaplain to refugees in the United States (1981) and in Honduras (1983).

    After several years of missionary animation in Belgium, he remained here and from here he devoted himself fully to helping refugees from Mexico and to all kinds of development projects in Guatemala, where, among other things, he built windturbines in the mountains. He also greatly cared about the young confreres who were killed or kidnapped in Guatemala in the early 1980s and who may be regarded as martyrs. André was not really a team player. He was someone who might sing at bedtime: "I did it my way!" Although he was very sociable in dealing with people, he always remained somewhat closed, as a poet once said, "The deepest life is a shy hinde." From 1985, André lived in his parental home in Boezinge, but he insisted on being present at the funeral of a confrère or when there was a recollection or gathering in his reference community of Torhout.

    It was also in said community that, at the age of 89, he found a safe haven. He died there serenely in the early morning of  November 23. We will remember André as a man who had some very personal convictions to which he kept returning: "We must see faith as a challenge that comes from Jesus himself" and "do we dare to respond to it?"

    - Fernand Degroote, Werner Lesage, and Gabriël  Demeulenaere