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RIP: Fr. Franz Josef Eilers SVD

FR. FRANZ JOSEF EILERS SVD

11 May 1932 – 13 January 2021

 

Fr. Franz Josef Eilers was born in Emsdetten, Germany on 11 May 1932. He entered the seminary in Bad Driburg in 1945 and professed his first vows on 1 May 1953. He was ordained to the priesthood on 8 December 1959 in Saint Augustin. His first assignment was in the SVD Mission Seminary in Steyl, the Netherlands where he was the Assistant Prefect from 1960 to 1961. Then he went for further studies in Muenster where he obtained a licentiate degree in Missiology in 1964. Then he went to Papua New Guinea for fieldwork and research in preparation for his doctorate. In 1967 he earned his Doctorate in Missiology with his dissertation on Communications of non-literate cultures in North-east New Guinea. From 1967 to 1971 he was at the Generalate in Rome where he served as Secretary for Communications. At the same time, he was very much involved in Communications and Media, establishing an academic quarterly in Mainz, Germany entitled “Communicatio Socialis” which still exists today. He was also a co-founder of the Catholic Media Council in Aachen, Germany. He was also involved in the World Council of Churches in Geneva where he served as Communications Secretary. He also served in the Vatican as a Consultor for the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. In Rome he also taught at the Gregorian University and the Salesian University. In 1985 he was assigned to the Philippines and joined the faculty at the Divine Word Seminary in Tagaytay. He taught Social Communications and Missiology. In 1995 he was appointed as the Executive Secretary for the Office of Social Communications by the Federation of the Asian Bishops’ Conference (FABC-OSC).  In 2003 he moved residence to Catholic Trade Manila. He accepted teaching positions at the University of Santo Tomas where he became the Program Coordinator of the Masters in Theology major in Social/Pastoral Communications. He taught Social Communications also at the Maryhill School of Theology of the CICM and at the Don Bosco Center of Studies. In 2009 he was a Board Member and Program Director of the Saint Joseph Freinademetz Communications Center located at the Radio veritas Asia compound in Quezon City. He was also an Adjunct Professor at the University of the Philippines in Los Baños, Laguna. In 2010, while still based in Manila, he accepted the post of Executive Director of the Asian Research Center for Religion and Social Communications at Saint John’s University in Bangkok, Thailand.

Fr. Eilers received the 2018 AMIC Award for “Transformative Leadership” at the 26th Annual Conference of the Asian Media, Information and Communication Center (AMIC) on 8 June 2018 at Manipal’s Academy of Higher Education in Karnataka, India.  On 27 November 2018, he was awarded the Titus Brandsma Leadership in Social Communication Award in a Ceremony at the Carmelites’ Titus Brandsma Media Center in Quezon City.

He was also a favorite Spiritual Director of priests and seminarians, SVDs and non-SVDs. The Franciscan Conventuals in Manila also had him as their confessor. All this time, he wrote a number of books on Social Communications, Interculturality, and Missions.

Looking at all his accomplishments and activities, one can only marvel at how he managed to juggle all these various activities. At the Provincialate Community in Catholic Trade Manila, he was considered a pillar of the spiritual life of the community, presenting an exemplar of prayer life and meditation. He would begin his day at 4:30 AM in the chapel, enjoying the quiet solitude before the rest of the community members trickled in for the daily Lauds and Eucharist.

Going well into his late eighties, he was asked now and then whether he considered enjoying retirement at the Villa Cristo Rey. He refused good naturedly to transfer to the retirement house, claiming he still has something to do. His favorite expression before leaving the breakfast table was, “Now, let’s try to do something!”

The end came rather unexpectedly. During the Lauds and Eucharist on January 11, it was noticed that he was sitting down most of the time. The next day, he was unable to attend mass. He claimed difficulty in walking and complained of some body pains. It was decided to bring him to the nearby hospital of the University of Santo Tomas. On January 13, at 2:41 in the afternoon, he suffered a heart attack and did not respond to efforts to revive him. He would have turned 89 in May 2021.

As news of his death spread in social media, there were many expressions of gratitude from priests, seminarians, and lay people, all of whom claimed gratitude and appreciation for what Fr. Eilers had done for them. Whether as Spiritual Director or as Thesis and Dissertation adviser to countless student-priests, he left an indelible imprint in the lives of those he touched.  For the community at Catholic Trade, his sudden demise created a feeling of loss and emptiness - a sense of losing a presence that always reminded everyone of how to be constant and faithful in the religious life.  May the Lord welcome him into the joy of His Kingdom!

Requiescat in pace.

 

 

 

 

 

FR. FRANZ JOSEF EILERS SVD

11 May 1932 – 13 January 2021

 

Fr. Franz Josef Eilers was born in Emsdetten, Germany on 11 May 1932. He entered the seminary in Bad Driburg in 1945 and professed his first vows on 1 May 1953. He was ordained to the priesthood on 8 December 1959 in Saint Augustin. His first assignment was in the SVD Mission Seminary in Steyl, the Netherlands where he was the Assistant Prefect from 1960 to 1961. Then he went for further studies in Muenster where he obtained a licentiate degree in Missiology in 1964. Then he went to Papua New Guinea for fieldwork and research in preparation for his doctorate. In 1967 he earned his Doctorate in Missiology with his dissertation on Communications of non-literate cultures in North-east New Guinea. From 1967 to 1971 he was at the Generalate in Rome where he served as Secretary for Communications. At the same time, he was very much involved in Communications and Media, establishing an academic quarterly in Mainz, Germany entitled “Communicatio Socialis” which still exists today. He was also a co-founder of the Catholic Media Council in Aachen, Germany. He was also involved in the World Council of Churches in Geneva where he served as Communications Secretary. He also served in the Vatican as a Consultor for the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. In Rome he also taught at the Gregorian University and the Salesian University. In 1985 he was assigned to the Philippines and joined the faculty at the Divine Word Seminary in Tagaytay. He taught Social Communications and Missiology. In 1995 he was appointed as the Executive Secretary for the Office of Social Communications by the Federation of the Asian Bishops’ Conference (FABC-OSC).  In 2003 he moved residence to Catholic Trade Manila. He accepted teaching positions at the University of Santo Tomas where he became the Program Coordinator of the Masters in Theology major in Social/Pastoral Communications. He taught Social Communications also at the Maryhill School of Theology of the CICM and at the Don Bosco Center of Studies. In 2009 he was a Board Member and Program Director of the Saint Joseph Freinademetz Communications Center located at the Radio veritas Asia compound in Quezon City. He was also an Adjunct Professor at the University of the Philippines in Los Baños, Laguna. In 2010, while still based in Manila, he accepted the post of Executive Director of the Asian Research Center for Religion and Social Communications at Saint John’s University in Bangkok, Thailand.

Fr. Eilers received the 2018 AMIC Award for “Transformative Leadership” at the 26th Annual Conference of the Asian Media, Information and Communication Center (AMIC) on 8 June 2018 at Manipal’s Academy of Higher Education in Karnataka, India.  On 27 November 2018, he was awarded the Titus Brandsma Leadership in Social Communication Award in a Ceremony at the Carmelites’ Titus Brandsma Media Center in Quezon City.

He was also a favorite Spiritual Director of priests and seminarians, SVDs and non-SVDs. The Franciscan Conventuals in Manila also had him as their confessor. All this time, he wrote a number of books on Social Communications, Interculturality, and Missions.

Looking at all his accomplishments and activities, one can only marvel at how he managed to juggle all these various activities. At the Provincialate Community in Catholic Trade Manila, he was considered a pillar of the spiritual life of the community, presenting an exemplar of prayer life and meditation. He would begin his day at 4:30 AM in the chapel, enjoying the quiet solitude before the rest of the community members trickled in for the daily Lauds and Eucharist.

Going well into his late eighties, he was asked now and then whether he considered enjoying retirement at the Villa Cristo Rey. He refused good naturedly to transfer to the retirement house, claiming he still has something to do. His favorite expression before leaving the breakfast table was, “Now, let’s try to do something!”

The end came rather unexpectedly. During the Lauds and Eucharist on January 11, it was noticed that he was sitting down most of the time. The next day, he was unable to attend mass. He claimed difficulty in walking and complained of some body pains. It was decided to bring him to the nearby hospital of the University of Santo Tomas. On January 13, at 2:41 in the afternoon, he suffered a heart attack and did not respond to efforts to revive him. He would have turned 89 in May 2021.

As news of his death spread in social media, there were many expressions of gratitude from priests, seminarians, and lay people, all of whom claimed gratitude and appreciation for what Fr. Eilers had done for them. Whether as Spiritual Director or as Thesis and Dissertation adviser to countless student-priests, he left an indelible imprint in the lives of those he touched.  For the community at Catholic Trade, his sudden demise created a feeling of loss and emptiness - a sense of losing a presence that always reminded everyone of how to be constant and faithful in the religious life.  May the Lord welcome him into the joy of His Kingdom!

Requiescat in pace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mission Statement

VISION

A religious missionary community of priests and brothers inspired by the Holy Triune God, proclaiming the reign of God by sharing intercultural life and mission among ourselves and our dialogue partners, following the example of Saints Arnold Janssen and Joseph Freinademetz

MISSION

To witness to God’s love, as told in the Scriptures, sending us to transform all creation through self-giving and dialogue

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Sunday Reflections

 

29 MarchSunday

5th Sunday of Lent

The Word

Ez 37,12-14 / Rom 8,8-11/ Jn 11,1-45

Thus says the Lord GOD: Look! I am going to open your graves; I will make you come up out of your graves, my people, and bring you back to the land of Israel.  You shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and make you come up out of them, my people! I will put my spirit in you that you may come to life, and I will settle you in your land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD. I have spoken; I will do it—oracle of the LORD.

______________

Brothers and sisters: Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.  But you are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you. Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is alive because of righteousness.  If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit that dwells in you.

 

_____________

Now a man was ill, Lazarus from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil and dried his feet with her hair; it was her brother Lazarus who was ill. So the sisters sent word to him, saying, “Master, the one you love is ill.” When Jesus heard this he said, “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that he was ill, he remained for two days in the place where he was. Then after this he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and you want to go back there?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in a day? If one walks during the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if one walks at night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” He said this, and then told them, “Our friend Lazarus is asleep, but I am going to awaken him.” So the disciples said to him, “Master, if he is asleep, he will be saved.”But Jesus was talking about his death, while they thought that he meant ordinary sleep. So then Jesus said to them clearly, “Lazarus has died. And I am glad for you that I was not there, that you may believe. Let us go to him.” So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go to die with him.”

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, only about two miles away. And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him; but Mary sat at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. (But) even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.”  Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.” Martha said to him, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”

When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying, “The teacher is here and is asking for you.” As soon as she heard this, she rose quickly and went to him. For Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still where Martha had met him. So when the Jews who were with her in the house comforting her saw Mary get up quickly and go out, they followed her, presuming that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping, he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Sir, come and see.” And Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.” But some of them said, “Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?”

So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay across it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him, “Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus raised his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me.” And when he had said this, he cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.”

Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what he had done began to believe in him.

 

In other words...

 

“I have to be here, I walk with you.”

 

During Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines he went to the city of Tacloban, a city devastated by Haiyan, one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded in history. “I would like to tell you something close to my heart,” the pope said as many in the crowd clutched crucifixes and cried. “When I saw in Rome that catastrophe, I felt I had to be here. And on those very days, I decided to come here. I’m here to be with you. Some of you have lost part of your families. All I can do is keep silent. And I walk with you all with my silent heart,” he said. (The Guardian)

 

In our gospel reading we see Jesus assuring Mary and Martha, who are mourning at the death of their brother Lazarus: “I walk with you, I am here.” But Jesus is far from glad at the suffering of his friends in Bethany. As Mary and Martha mourn for Lazarus they openly rebuke him: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” This is a familiar refrain in our hearts when confronted with irreconcilable events and sufferings in the world. We echo even more our disappointment as our suffering grows closer to us. We have often consciously commented, “If God was real, these tragedies would not exist.”

 

What we learn from Mary and Martha is their faith in Jesus even in their grief. They experience a very personal Christ who mourns at their suffering. Jesus becomes visibly “perturbed and troubled,” and then weeps at the sight of the mourning friends and family of His friend — despite knowing that Lazarus will soon rise and joy will return to their faces.

 

How often have we felt that Jesus assures us: “I have to be here, I will walk with you?” Like Mary’s and Martha’s experience we are reminded that before and after us, in our midst and in the sidelines of life, we do not have a distant and imperious God. This gospel passage reveals God as personal, as friends and family. We should feel confident that Jesus also weeps for us in our mourning, in our fallen state and fallen world. Pope Francis reminds us that as children of God, we must also weep at the suffering and mourning of others, and do what we can to ease it, especially when it seems most senseless.

 

After He weeps, Jesus calls Lazarus out of the tomb. This was  His last miracle, a sign of what will come for all of us who believe — when weeping and mourning will cease, and we come to everlasting life with the Lord. In our occasional lack of confidence and trust in God let us come out of our tombs and consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)

– Fr. Sonny de Rivera, SVD (Rome)

 

 

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