After his sudden death from a heart attack in a remote village, young men carried the body of the much-loved missionary Father ] Hans-Otto Wiener in a coffin, 100 kilometres through the bush to his parish church.
The Missionary of Africa died on 13 March, at Kalole, DR Congo. He was 59 years and had spent 31 years as a missionary in the Congo.
Born in Nievenheim, in the Diocese of Cologne, Fr Hans joined the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers) in 1974 and was ordained in 1979. He served in Zaire, studied in Rome, returned to Zaire and then served the rest of his life in the Congo.
Olivier Tienana Soma, Assistant Provincial CAP writes: "Men, women, youth, children, Muslims, Christians, Catholics and Christians of other churches, all gathered at the church in Minanga to pay their last tribute to the priest who lived among them, devoting himself to all, without exception. A dozen priests from the Diocese of Kasongo, serving in various parishes were also there in solidarity. The choir composed a song in his honour.
"The sudden and untimely death of Hans Otto has left many residents confused and Mingana especially inconsolable," Fr Oliver said. "In addition to his commitments as a priest, Fr Hans had special responsibility for the sick. He developed and equipped the health clinic and maternity centre in Mingana. In this remote inaccessible place , the health and maternity projects Fr Hans set up save lives every day." ..."Hans leaves the land of men at a time when there is still much need of him. He will be remembered as a missionary simple, courageous, warm, generous, close to people and totally devoted to the cause of the poorest. The dilapidated state of roads made it impossible to travel by car, but did not stop his body being carried to Mingana, a town about 100 km from Kalole where he died. Young people who made the journey on foot, carrying on their shoulders the coffin. This was proof of the affection and respect they had for him.
"May this new seed sown in the earth Maniema bear fruit that will please the Lord of the Harvest!
Joseph Kafeke Salumu, Animateur in pastoral Kalole describes how Fr Hans died. He said: 'On around 5.30pm Thursday, 10 March Kalole parish welcomed Father Hans Otto Wienen, Missionary of Africa, for a pastoral mission and he was going to oversea the building of a new parish church.
"Father Hans Otto was joined by new builder John Paul and the pastoral animator Joseph Parish Asani Mingana. Everyone was in good health except the builder who appeared weak and vomited during his stay in Kololi.
"Fr Hans Otto, of blessed memory, said two Masses for Christians in Kalole on the Friday and Saturday. He participated in the first Way of the Cross with all Christians of CEVB Kalole. On Saturday, he said he had discomfort in the chest, but said this "is not serious and it will pass."
"During both days, he was seeing people until late. On Saturday he worked until until 10pm went went to bed.
"On Sunday, 13 March Fr Hans got early and then went back to his room. A short time later, around 7am, doctors found him dead. He had suffered from cardiac arrest
"His body was embalmed and put into a coffin and carried to Mingana by a group of young men, because the road was in too bad condition to drive a car."
Joseph Asani, pastoral assistant at Mingana said as Fr Hans' coffin was carried from village to village it was greeted with cries and tears. "At 27 km from Kololi, night had fallen, but that did not stop them from continuing walking until they Bikenge, a village 50 km from Kololi. At Bikenge, the body was placed in the church where Christians watched, prayed and sang.
"Monday, March 14, 2011, we left Bikenge at 6am with the mortal remains to arrive at Mingana on the 14th. At Mingana, the funeral Mass began at 3.30pm and was chaired by P. Olivier Soma, Assistant Provincial of the Missionaries of Africa. The homily and the story of the life of the deceased were made by Father Tony Jurt, parish priest of St. Therese de Mingan. May he rest in peace!
Joseph Misange writes: "On behalf of my family and my own, I offer the deepest condolences to the family of Reverend Father Hans Christian community Mingana and especially the Society of Missionaries of Africa. May his soul rest in peace!
Source: Missionaries of Africa