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    Our dear departed

    Jozef Koeken

    Jozef Koeken

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    Jozef Koeken smallJozef Koeken (1921-2020)

    Born in Zundert (B) on January 30, 1921
    First vows on September 1, 1941
    Missionary in DR Congo (AFA) and Belgium
    Died in Sint-Pieters-Leeuw (B) on November 21, 2020 at the age of 99.

     



    Our brother Jozef (Jef) Koeken lived almost a full century. Jef himself did not attach much importance to this record of longevity. He grew up with his eight brothers and sisters on the farm in a warm Christian family.

    Jef's vocationa story is similar to that of Andrew and Simon (Mt 4:18-22). He grew mostly in the company of two of his brothers: his twin brother Jaak, who is still alive, and another brother, a CICM, Theodoor Koeken (1918-2003.)

    Jef's first departure for the Kasai Province took place in 1947. He car­ried out various tasks in several mission posts, mainly construction projects. In 1970, for health rea­sons, he returned definitively to Belgium and lived in the commu­nity of Schilde. There, he was able to flourish by exercising all kinds of jobs fully, both inside and outside the community: carpenter, pig farmer, shoemaker, forest manager, road worker, market gar­dener, community supplies, or­chard maintenance, fruit picking, etc. In the field of recreation, Brother Jef was a fierce card player and also a joker.  Above all else, he examined his life and his whole being in prayer. Until the last moment of his life, Jef could be found with his rosary in his hand.

    A niece of Brother Jef writes: “My uncle was a strong man, and despite his increasing deafness and advanced age, he remained an in­teresting storyteller with a sharp mind”.

    On November 19, Jef returned from the hospital. It was for the whole community, a liberation, a joy, an assurance, and “almost a homecoming”. He calmed down on the eve of his death: acceptance, se­renity, reconciliation, peace, self-sacrifice, prayer, comfort, sincerity, courage, and encounter. The next morning, in the most profound si­lence, he heard a voice telling him: “Come, blessed of the Lord”. May Brother Jef now rest in the peace of the Lord. ■

    Karel Timmerman


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