Normally, the friars of the Provincial Delegation in the Netherlands meet several times a year. After a long interruption due to the pandemic, ten friars of the Delegation finally met together on June 28, 2022. Friar Andreas MURK, the Minister Provincial of the Province of St. Elizabeth in Germany was also present.
The meeting took place in Dongen, Holland, where Friar Michiel VAN KOOTEN serves as a chaplain for some religious sisters. At sixty-two, he is the youngest member of the Delegation and is part of the Definitory of the Province of Germany.
The Delegation has fifteen friars with an average age of eighty-four. Two of them live in Belgium. Some of them live in nursing homes. Most of them live alone and still perform many pastoral tasks despite their age.
After a spiritual introduction by Friar Thijs, the meeting got underway with the main goal of conducting a fraternal discussion on various questions: How do we see our Delegation? What issues are we dealing with now? What are our prospects for the future? Despite their growing fragility and great sadness over the lack of vocations, all the friars expressed satisfaction with their personal situation. Thanks to the provisions of the Delegation, they feel well cared for in their old age. Two assistants take care of financial and nursing matters. In this way, the friars are well supported even as their strength continues to decline. They expressed gratitude that the Order accepts their reality as well.
Friar Thijs received some sad news just before lunch: Friar Pius (Harry) UITENDAAL (b. 1934) died in the hospital. He had been hospitalized for several days due to a serious illness. Friar Thijs had already administered the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick to him on Sunday, and Friars Andreas and Michiel were able to visit him the day before his death. For many decades, Friar Pius served as a missionary in Zambia. May he now rest in peace.
Friar Andreas MURK