In the Apostolic Letter of Pope Francis by which Fr. Engelmar Hubert Unzeitig, C.M.M., missionary of Mariannhill and martyr of Charity in the Dachau concentration camp, was declared Blessed it is stated: “His feast is able to be celebrated every year in the places and ways established by law on the second day of March, the day on which he went up to heaven”.
On March 2nd the Mariannhill Missionaries in Spain invited their friends, benefactors and acquaintances, as well as the diocesan community of Salamanca, to join them in the first celebration of the liturgical memorial of Blessed Engelmar Hubert Unzeitig.
The celebration, presided over by the diocesan Bishop Mgr. Carlos López Hernández, took place on the eve of that day in the church of the Parish of Our Lady of Fatima [Salamanca].
At the very beginning of the celebration the Bishop blessed a polychrome carving of Blessed Engelmar. The carving was made eight years ago in the Czech Republic and was recently painted by an artist from Salamanca, Mr. Francisco Orejudo Alonso.
The carved statue depicts Blessed Engelmar dressed in the typical costume of the prisoners of the Nazi concentration camps; trousers and striped jacket. Underneath his jacket he reveals the religious habit of Mariannhill. He holds a loaf of bread in his hands. Thus described, the statue perfectly represents the physiognomy of the new Blessed: a prisoner in a concentration camp, a missionary within the barbed wire of his imprisonment, and an angel of charity in the midst of the Dachau hell.
After the blessing of the statue the Bishop sprinkled it with holy water and incensed it. Then four young Mariannhill missionaries placed red floral arrangements around the blessed image.
Then the intercession of Blessed Engelmar was invoked in the opening prayer of his Mass, which reads: “Almighty and eternal God, you gave the martyr Blessed Engelmar the grace to give witness to your merciful love in the midst of the cruelty of imprisonment. Through his intercession give us, too, the strength to love our sisters and brothers with dedication and serve them full of mercy. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen”.
The biblical readings proclaimed in the celebration were those of the Mass of the new Blessed. The first reading was taken from the Book of Wisdom [3: 1-9]. As a responsorial psalm a few verses of Psalm 27 were sung. The second reading was taken from the First Letter of St. Peter [3: 14-17]. As Gospel the end of the Gospel of Matthew [28: 16-20], which contains the missionary mandate of the Lord to his disciples, was proclaimed.
In his homily the Bishop, besides taking a tour through the most important milestones in the life of the new Blessed, pointed out how in the midst of the hell of the Dachau concentration camp Blessed martyr Engelmar behaved like an angel. He advised the newcomers, encouraged the weak, comforted the desperate, shared his food with those who had nothing, begged to help the most disadvantaged, spoke of God, taught the catechism, etc. That was how, even as a prisoner, he became a good Mariannhill Missionary. He also indicated how in the life of Blessed Engelmar the disconcerting logic of the paschal mystery of Christ was fulfilled, i.e. whoever gives up his life out of love wins it forever.
The very surname of the new Blessed – Unzeitig – refers to the disconcerting nature of the paschal logic. Unzeitig in German means something that happens out of time, which happens in the off-time. Applied, for example, to agricultural products it would refer to immature fruits, not complete, not having achieved the degree of expected ripening. Is it not true in the light of the evangelical and paschal logic that what the world usually judges as immature and untimely is regarded by God as the most propitious and opportune?
In the prayers of the faithful several petitions were addressed to God, taking Blessed Engelmar as intercessor. They were  that, in commemorating Blessed Engelmar’s love for God, we feel impelled to make our life more religious;  that, in commemorating the missionary zeal of Blessed Engelmar, we be urged to keep apostolic zeal alive in ourselves;  that in commemorating the generosity of Blessed Engelmar to those most in need, we be encouraged to follow his example;  that, in commemorating the patience of Blessed Engelmar in adversity, we may find ourselves comforted in the hour of trial; and  that, in commemorating the sacrifice of the young life of Blessed Engelmar, we be taught to respond to our personal vocation.
At the moment of the offertory, together with the Eucharistic bread and wine, three especially eloquent symbols referring to Blessed Engelmar were brought up; a heart, a loaf of bread and a piece of barbed wire. The heart symbolized the unconditional love with which Blessed Engelmar did all things and which earned him the title of Angel of Dachau. The loaf of bread made reference to the giving away of his life and his things, which earned him the title of Missionary of Mercy. The barbed wire symbolized the unconditional sacrifice of Blessed Engelmar in favor of the sick and dying, the neediest of all, gaining for him the merit to be invoked with the title of Martyr of Charity.
At the end of the celebration Fr Lino Herrero Prieto, C.M.M., Regional Superior of Mariannhill in Spain, thanked everyone present for attending this moving Eucharistic celebration. He recalled that the saints and blessed are oases of peace that God puts in the midst of the deserts of our life, so that we can rest and regain strength in order to continue the pilgrimage of existence. From Blessed Engelmar – he continued – we can learn at least three things:  God does not move away from us even when we go through difficulties. Therefore in the midst of such situations we must not go away from God.  We must be faithful to the commitments made in baptism and to those we have accepted later in life.  We can be evangelizers and missionaries even if it seems that the circumstances in which we now find ourselves are not the most propitious for this. He ended by inviting everyone to pray to Blessed Engelmar before his statue that will be exposed to the veneration of the faithful in the chapel of the house of Mariannhill in Salamanca.
So this first celebration of the liturgical memory of Blessed Engelmar ended with great peace in the heart of those attending and with a serene desire to imitate his life.
Fr. Lino Herrero Prieto, C.M.M.
PHOTOS: CARMEN BORREGO MUÑOZ [SALAMANCA/SPAIN]  2nd March 2017: Celebration of the Liturgical Memory of Blessed Engelmar in Salamanca. The Mariannhill Missionaries in Spain invited their friends, benefactors and acquaintances, as well as the diocesan community of Salamanca, to join them in the first celebration of the liturgical memorial of Blessed Engelmar Hubert Unzeitig.  The carved statue depicts Blessed Engelmar dressed in the typical costume of the prisoners of the Nazi concentration camps; trousers and striped jacket. Underneath his jacket he reveals the religious habit of Mariannhill. He holds a loaf of bread in his hands. Thus described, the statue perfectly represents the physiognomy of the new Blessed: a prisoner in a concentration camp, a missionary within the barbed wire of his imprisonment, and an angel of charity in the midst of the Dachau hell.  After the blessing of the statue the Bishop sprinkled it with holy water and incensed it.  Then four young Mariannhill missionaries placed red floral arrangements around the blessed image.  So this first celebration of the liturgical memory of Blessed Engelmar ended with great peace in the heart of those attending and with a serene desire to imitate his life.  At the end of the celebration the Regional Superior invited everyone to pray to Blessed Engelmar before his statue that will be exposed to the veneration of the faithful in the chapel of the house of Mariannhill in Salamanca.
At the service of the mission for one’s whole life:
Perpetual Profession of Frt. Philip Abilio Lenço, C.M.M.
Salamanca, January 6, 2017
On the evening of January 6, 2017, Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, another young missionary of Mariannhill, Frt. Philip made his perpetual profession.
The celebration took place in the parish church of the patron of the city of Salamanca, Saint John of Sahagún.
Already five years ago, after his novitiate, Frt. Philip was transferred to Spain in order to begin the formative process for becoming a priest of Christ.
Wishing to move a step further in his religious and missionary commitment, Frt. Philip, on the evening of that solemn and missionary feast, consecrated himself to God for life, making public vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
Together with the missionary community of Mariannhill in Spain some other priests close to Mariannhill, as well as a large assembly of faithful, all friends of Mariannhill, were present at the celebration.
A choir composed of young people from the parish of Saint John of Sahagún and some Mariannhill missionaries in formation animated the whole celebration with song. The varied repertoire of songs performed in Spanish, Portuguese and Makua helped to make the celebration lively and meaningful.
Faithful to the liturgy of the day, the celebration had as a backdrop the story of those Wise Men coming from the East who, guided by a star, left their land and embarked on a risky journey in search of an unknown king. In their search they found the famous King Herod and the star disappeared. The star appeared again when they found Jesus, whom they recognized as the King they were looking for.
After the reading of the Gospel, Fr. Lino Herrero Prieto, C.M.M., regional superior of the Missionaries of Mariannhill in Spain, who presided over the celebration, gave the homily. In the first part of the homily he pointed out that the simplicity and charm of the event of the wise men of the East should not distract our attention from what lies behind it. This simple and charming event reveals to us, under the image of the star, that God wants all men to be saved; that Jesus was sent as a light to enlighten all nations; and that Mary is the Mother who has presented this light to all peoples. The light of God shone even in those distant regions, beyond the visible borders of Israel, and in this way revealed itself to all the peoples, represented in those mysterious persons coming from the East and guided by a star. Meanwhile and ever since, the great caravan of mankind is still on the move seeking the God-Man Savior. They are led by a guiding star, i.e. the intuition that only in Jesus will they find the desired salvation. Mankind loses its orientation and the star hides when Jesus is mixed up with any other of those who claim to be saviors. The star always tells us where the real and authentic things are and where the substitutes are.
Once the homily was finished, in accord with the ritual of perpetual profession, Frt. Philip, after being called by the deacon, was questioned about his willingness to assume the commitments connected with the step he was about to take.
As such a step can only be sustained and guaranteed by the help that comes from above, all of us, with the singing of the litany of the Saints, asked for the blessing of God on Frt. Philip while he remained prostrate before the altar.
At the end of this part of the ritual Frt. Philip, with a candle burning in his hand and kneeling before his superior, read the formula of profession which he himself had hand written.
Particularly significant and touching was the moment when, after finishing the reading of the formula and before signing it, Frt. Philip was approached by the other confreres, dressed in showy African clothes, who engaged him in a sung dialogue which expressed the generous surrender to God of Frt. Philip as a missionary of Mariannhill in the service of the mission of the Church.
Then followed the long and beautiful prayer over Frt. Philip who, in order to live in a radical way the consecration of his Baptism, had just consecrated himself to God for his whole life.
The rite of perpetual profession ended with the reception of Frt. Philip into the Congregation of Mariannhill as a full member. Then the celebration of the Eucharist continued.
Let us now turn to the words the regional superior addressed to Frt. Philip in the second part of the homily.
Dear Frt. Philip, the following words are specially meant for you this evening, as you consecrate yourself to God for life by making public vows of the three evangelical counsels in this missionary family of Mariannhill.
The undisputed protagonist of this day is the star. This special luminous body began to disturb the peaceful life of those wise studiers of the firmament. Once they discovered it in the sky, they understood that they had to complicate life and embark on a journey to find someone special, of whom the star was a sign. The star was for them the safe guide on the road.
Through human reasoning those sages got off track, for they came to believe that the capital, where the king lived, was the ultimate goal of their adventurous journey. Proof of their mistake is that the star disappeared. When they were again pointed in the right direction the star reappeared, filling their heart with joy. The star stood still at the place where the object of their quest was. After reaching their goal they no longer needed the guidance of the star in the sky, for the star was now shining in their inner sky. Therefore they returned to their land by another road.
Dear Frt. Philip, is not this perhaps the best parable of the journey that your vocation has taken and which is to continue in the future? Is not your vocation a path marked by stages, always new and unpublished?
We all need a star to live by. There are those stars that are fleeting: they shine brightly and are beautiful but they do not last. Then there are the authentic stars: they do not always shine; they are demanding; and they do not make life easy for us. Sometimes they hide themselves, but they lend us the great service of warning us of the falsehood of idols.
Dear Frt. Philip, who is supposed to be your guiding star? In the light of which star should you walk?
The star which has to shine in the firmament of your life is God Himself, is Christ, and is Mary. God tells you where the truth is and where the lie, where the true values and where the fleeting ones, where the idols and where He is who is the true God. Christ illuminates your conscience with his light. He guides you towards the goal to which you have been called, admonishing you against everything that impoverishes and degrades your human and Christian dignity.
Mary is the star of the morning whose mission is to warn you of the imminent appearance of that Sun who is born from on high, her Son and Lord. Mary makes you uneasy, inviting you to always look up so you do not settle for what is given to you on the ground level. Mary is the one who introduces you to the house of the Church, showing you Jesus so that you may adore him and offer him the best of your life without stinginess or pettiness. Mary is the one who urges you to share the joy of discovery as you return by that other path that is called conversion and new life to the normality of daily existence.
After congratulating the newly professed, all of us left that celebration with the determination to walk in the light of the star and, with missionary passion, to invite all to join the great caravan of the seekers of God.
Fr. Lino Herrero Prieto CMM
The Catholic Diocese of Lae in Morobe/Papua New Guinea celebrated its golden anniversary on Sunday November 13, 2016. This historical phenomenon was witnessed by the faithful of many cultures at St. Mary’s Primary School grounds.
The Apostolic Nuncio of Papua New and Solomon Islands, Archbishop Kurian Matthew Vayalunkal, in the company of Bishops and priests, celebrated Holy Mass to bless the diocese and to thank the missionaries for the fruits of their labour in Morobe Province.
“We are gathered here to remember the 50th anniversary of our Diocese of Lae. This is the right occasion to remember the history of the Church in our country, PNG. We rejoice, we give praise, and we go forth.” Said the Apostolic Nuncio, during the homily.
Lae’s Bishop, Christian Blouin gave thanks to the pioneers of the diocese saying, “four pioneers of the diocese of Lae must be acknowledged at this occasion. Fr. Anthony Mulderink, who is one of the pioneers foursome is here is present to witness this occasion. So we wish to take this opportunity to thank him and his fellow Mariannhill pioneer brothers for their work.” The local ordinary, Bishop Blouin, extended this gratitude to all the people of good will, the locals and friends overseas, for being helpful to the diocese.
He (Bishop Blouin) recalled the early years of their missionary activities in Lae and Siassi Islands. He remembered when they didn’t have modern means of transport or communication. “I know pretty well the hardships and challenges the priests and sisters encounter,” concluded Bishop Christian Blouin.
The Vicar General of the diocese, Fr. Arnold Schmitt, said, “The main work of the early missionaries was education and formation of Catholic Christian families. And we have continued to do this by reading the signs of the time. For instance he added, “The growing number of street kids is worrying and we are trying to find ways of addressing this and many new challenges.”
The existence of the Catholic Church in Morobe Province goes back to the time after the gold rush in Wau and Bulolo in 1927. However, the Diocese of Lae started off with the mandate of Pope John XXIII on 18 June 1959 when the newly erected Vicariate of Lae was entrusted to the Congregation of the Missionaries of Mariannhill (CMM).
In March 1960 the first four CMM priests arrived from the Netherlands. They were: the Fathers Gerard Hafmans, Bert Kempkes, Henry van Lieshout and Anthony Mulderink. By then the number of inhabitants in 1959 was about 187.000, and among them were approximately 1.750 Catholics. Over the period of 50 years the population of Morobe has increased to more than 616.263.
The four CMM missionaries began to explore the new mission fields in Morobe. They trekked for weeks over mountains and valleys, walked through rivers, forests and jungles looking for places to establish their mission station. Then they learned that the Lutheran Missionaries were already established everywhere, even among the smallest tribes. They also discovered that the MSC Missionaries from West New Britain had established a Catholic community, in Siassi Islands.
If 95% of the indigenous population was Lutheran, then mission work among pagan tribes was out of question. The firm idea grew that the primary task was the care for the Christians already present in then new mission territory that was initially evangelized by the Lutherans. The foundation of the Diocese of Lae is thus stamped with this ecumenical sensitivity.
Education was determined as the priority of the mission of the Catholic Church in the Lae Vicariate, all activities were focused on the project of building up St. Joseph’s Station and a technical school on a block of land at Lae/8-Mile. Thus the year 1964 became a year of constructions on the new station. A chapel was the last of 14 buildings erected in one year. Meanwhile St. Joseph’s Technical Training Centre was provisionally recognized by the Education Department. Other schools were St. Mary’s School in Lae and St. Martin’s School in the Papua Compound near the industrial centre and the harbour. On the Siassi Islands, a Primary School on Por Island next to Mandok Island. In Watut area, 30 km from Bulolo St. Paul’s School. St. Peter’s School in Bulolo in 1970 and Mariannhill School in Wau in the 1980ies.
In 1965 Fr. Henry van. Lieshout succeeded Fr. G. Hafmans as Vicar delegate and later as Vicar Apostolic of Lae. When the hierarchy was established in Papua New Guinea on November 15, 1966. Fr. Henry van Lieshout became the first bishop of Lae and was ordained bishop on March 5, 1967 in Lae. Bishop Christian Blouin, his successor, was ordained on May 5, 2007.
The first Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood arrived in June 1962. Other international congregations have since then come to Lae diocese: Little Sisters of Jesus, Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, Daughters of Mary Immaculate, Brothers of the Sacred Heart, Missionaries of Jesus; they are all very much involved in the fields of pastoral, social work and education. These missionaries are coming mainly from Germany. England, Ireland, Japan. Vietnam., Spain. Philippines, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique and South Africa and Panama.
In the past years, lay-missionaries, from Australia and Europe have been very handy, their various skills substantially brought development in the Diocese.
The Diocese of Lae has grown from modest beginnings with less than 2,000 Catholics to more than 30, 000 at present. This work which was done by only missionaries 50 years ago, has also become the work of the local clergies and religious communities. Fr. Edward Suakau the first local clergy was ordained in 1988. More Primary and Technical Schools and a Vocational Training Centre for girls have been built, all staffed with P.N.G. teachers; the various departments of the Diocesan Offices are also managed by local staff. The same goes for the Centre of Mercy, and clinics for health care, which tries to eradicate the rapid growing epidemic of HIV/AIDS.
Over the past 50 years, Papua New Guinea, as whole, the diocese included, has undergone significant economic, social and political changes. The old tribal structure with its strong traditions, which had given the people support and stability in their environment, has for instance began to disintegrate. The Diocese of Lae will have to strive forward with new approaches of proclaiming, sanctifying and serving the Melanesian Missionary Church in Oceania.
After the joyous and beautiful celebration of the Beatification of Blessed Engelmar Unzeitig in Germany on September 24th 2016, the Confreres in the Zambia Unit took it upon themselves to bring Blessed Engelmar Unzeitig home, as it were. The rainy morning of Saturday 26th November 2016 turned out to be a joyous and solemn day for the confreres, for the CMM Associates and for those who work closely with them, when we celebrated a thanksgiving Holy Mass in honour of Blessed Engelmar Unzeitig at a venue prophetically chosen.
The event took place at Engelmar House of Formation in Lusaka, which is about 7km away south of the city centre. Blessed Engelmar House of Formation is currently the only House in the Congregation named after our beloved Martyr-of-Brotherly-love. In attendance were most of the Mariannhill Priests and Brothers working and living in Zambia, the Sisters of the Precious Blood, the local clergy and various Religious men and women from different orders, institutions and societies. The occasion was graced by the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Lusaka, Fr Oliver Mukunta who was the presider and homilist at the Eucharist.
In his homily, Fr Mukunta drew various aspects and qualities from the life, words, actions and attitudes of Blessed Engelmar Unzeitig which can help us as Mariannhillers and Christians as a whole to live our vocations and commitments faithfully and zealously. He also emphasized the need to embrace the spirit of Blessed Engelmar in our own time, place and situations, thus emulating him. During the same liturgical celebration, our eleven candidates currently living at Blessed Engelmar House of Formation and attending philosophical studies at Saint Bonaventure University college, were conferred with medals of Mariannhill Missionaries.
After the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, there was a festive get together lunch for all present. There was also an exhibition of pictures telling the life story of Blessed Engelmar Unzeitig. The documentary video was also shown and the confreres present answered questions and clarified some issues the attending guests had on this great servant of God. Entertainment (like a drama that showed the life of Engelmar) and other moments of interactions were provided for by the youths from the parishes our confreres work in or help out.
Indeed, Blessed Engelmar Unzeitig had arrived home!
Deacon Louis Mwange Chileshe, CMM