• Wartakanlah Injil kepada segala makhluk.
    Mrk 16:15

  • 你们往普天下去, 向一切受造物宣传福音
    谷 16:15

  • Everything is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit’s Grace.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • Segala sesuatu menjadi mungkin dalam kekuatan karunia Roh Kudus.
    St. Arnold Janssen

  • 我当传教士不是为主牺牲,而是上主给我的最大恩赐
    圣福若瑟神父

  • Với sức mạnh Ân Huệ của Chúa Thánh Thần, Mọi việc đều có thể được.
    St Arnoldus Janssen

  • Preach the Gospel to the whole creation./Anh em hãy đi khắp tứ phương thiên hạ, loan báo Tin Mừng cho mọi loài thọ tạo
    Mk 16:15

  • There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit.
    1 Cor 12:4

  • And the Word became flesh and lived among us.
    Jn 1:14

  • Let the word of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you.
    Col 3:16

  • To proclaim the Good News is the first and greatest act of love of neighbour.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • 传扬天国福音是第一且最大的爱近人行动
    圣杨生•爱诺德神父

  • Có nhiều đặc sủng khác nhau, nhưng chỉ có một Thần Khí/
    1 Cor. 14:4

  • 圣言成了血肉,寄居在我们中间
    若 1:14

  • Ada rupa-rupa karunia, tetapi Roh satu
    1 Kor 12:4

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Monday, 28 May 2018 18:20

Diamond Jubilee for Fr Erwin - priest, missionary, botantist, medic

 

Fr Erwin Schmutz SVD2 450Fr Erwin Schmutz SVD has worn a few different hats over the last 60 years – priest, missionary, medic and botanist to name just a few – but as he celebrates his Diamond Jubilee, he says it is the people he has lived amongst and ministered to that stand out for him.

Fr Erwin was born in Ingolstadt, on the River Donau in Bavaria, Germany, and spent 30 years as a missionary in Indonesia, then some years as a German Airforce chaplain, before arriving in the SVD AUS Province where he was chaplain to Adelaide’s German community for many years.

Forced into the German army at just 13 years of age to defend his home town during World War II, he says he saw things in the dying weeks of the war that have stayed as indelible wounds in his memory. One of his two brothers was killed as a soldier two days after the official surrender in 1945.

During high school, young Erwin developed a love for flowers and botany and had a great skill at drawing plants.

Fr Erwin Schmutz SVD Giant tree 350After leaving school he studied chemistry for a while, but he soon joined the Divine Word Missionaries after first coming across the SVD in his home town where they had a house. He entered at St Augustine’s seminary in Germany and took his vows in May 1958.

“My first assignment was to the Anthropos Institute (a mission institute attached to St Augustine’s), but first they sent me to Indonesia, to the Manggarai in Flores, for a while,” he says.“I ended up staying there for 30 years.”

For all of his years in Indonesia, Fr Erwin lived a solitary life in the remote village of Nunang, where horses were the only means of transportation and it took him a month to make the round of all his out-station chapels.

With his knowledge of science and chemistry and having served in the sick bay for all his time in the novitiate back in Germany and right up to priesthood, Fr Erwin had developed an interest in medical things, which he was soon putting into practice in Indonesia.

“People would come to me for medical help,” he says. “So I did what I could.”‘Doing what he could’ often involved performing difficult surgical operations with very few medical tools. His work was recognised by the International Red Cross, who gave him credentials to perform such procedures.

“Once, I did an operation on a policeman with a bullet in his brain,” he says. “The bullet went in one side of his head and lodged in his brain. I had to remove it with just a local anaesthetic, but he was ok, that was enough.“

Fr Erwin Scmutz SVD in Indonesia 450Afterwards the doctors saw what I did and said it was marvellous. I couldn’t quite believe it myself.”

Fr Erwin’s surgical efforts were later formally acknowledged by the Kupang health authorities.

He also helped many women with difficult pregnancies to deliver healthy babies.

As if being a priest and a medic in remote Indonesia did not keep him busy enough, Fr Erwin pursued his love of science and botany in his new surrounds.

“I was lucky, I didn’t need much sleep, so I could do all of this,” he says. “I could survive on two hours sleep a night.

“Sometimes I would work right through the night, collecting mosquitos and sending them back to the university.”

Fr Erwin had developed a good relationship with the University of Leiden in The Netherlands, where he sent all his finds and discoveries. Countless so-far-unnamed plants were named after him, including a giant tree.He also enjoyed geology and knew all the stones that he found as well as their geological history.

Fr Erwin Schmutz SVD love the people 450As a priest Fr Erwin specialised in Biblical studies and gave Bible courses all over Indonesia and Africa, making a big contribution to the formation of catechists in Flores.

A bad accident with a horse while in Indonesia injured Fr Erwin’s back – an injury which would come back to affect him in his old age, meaning he now has to use a wheelchair to get around.

When he was not allowed back into Indonesia as a missionary, Fr Erwin volunteered to become a chaplain to the German Luftwaffe, an experience he loved.

“It was a very happy time,” he says. “And sometimes I got to go up in the fast fighter jets – whoosh!”

After a chance meeting with Fr Frank Gerry SVD of the AUS Province, Fr Erwin accepted an assignment to become chaplain to the German-speaking Catholics in Adelaide.

“That was a good time too,” he says. “The people were very good.”

Asked about how different the chaplaincy ministry was to his time in the Indonesian jungle, he says: “Not so much. It’s all the same really. To be there for the people”.

Now, at age 85, he lives in retirement at the SVD’s Marsfield aged care residence with other senior confreres.

As he looks back over his 60 years as a Divine Word Missionary, Fr Erwin says the love of the people is what stands out in his heart and mind.

“I love it,” he says. “I love being a missionary and I remember all the very good people where I was working, the mountain people. They were so brave and so helpful to me.

“As a missionary you loved the people you were with. That’s it. That’s all.”

PHOTOS

Top Right: Fr Erwin Schmutz SVD

Middle left: The giant tree Sympetalandra schmutzii, named after Fr Erwin who discovered it as a new species during his time in Indonesia.

Middle right: Fr Erwin, far right, pictured as a young missionary in Indonesia.

Bottom left: The people of Flores, among whom Fr Erwin lived and ministered for 30 years.