• 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

  • 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

  • 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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Wednesday, 23 September 2015 17:24

Being an SVD saved my life - Fr Wim celebrates 60 years in vows


Fr-Wim-Valckx---Jubilee---350Homily given by Fr Wim Valckx SVD at the celebration of his 60th Jubilee

Some years ago I found in a Dutch catholic newspaper an article on a spiritual renewal centre in Helvoirt in the Netherlands province of Brabant. Reading it, I slowly realized they were talking about our former SVD Novitiate house, where I entered the SVD as a novice.

The author wrote: “Stepping into the building, one can feel an atmosphere of prayer.” In other words, you can feel it is a holy place”.

Fr Dom Flores recently remarked: “Prayers leave traces in places and buildings.” I experienced the holiness of places stepping in the Great Mosque, the Dome on the Rock (Jerusalem) and also going into the lower Basilica of Lourdes. I felt like entering a bath of prayer.

Our SVD prayers left their traces in that novitiate building in Helvoirt, and we SVDs were followed by many more praying people, of different orders and organisations.

We SVD oldies, we can say that our generation, entering the SVD in Holland, Germany, Italy or the USA , was really firmly grounded and moulded in prayer and also in the solemn celebration of the Eucharist every Sunday and on special feasts. We led a sort of monastic life . One of my fellow novices loved the monastic aspect so very much, that he opted to become a Trappist monk. -

At the end of our Novitiate we were given a retreat by Fr Tony de Rijk ( 1923)
Now in San Rafael Calzada near Buenos Aires (Argentina ). Tony’s retreat was a revolution. He turned upside down all that our Novice Master had been trying to teach us for two years.

Fr-Wim-Valckx-w-Simon-Prospero---Jubilee---350Our Novice Master had as paradigm: You have to become holy first, otherwise your work will be fruitless. Father Tony : You have to start your religious life as a journey and work and pray and become slowly holy in the process.
We felt Tony was right and showed a path towards holiness, a long path of struggle and hope of failing, falling, getting up and getting on, climbing that mountain of God, but a life of faithfulnesss to prayer.

Our Novice Master was very old fashioned, surely, but I think our present day SVD formators could learn something of these old fashioned men who still lived the spirit of the founding fathers and mothers: They were people of prayer in the first place and missionary work was second to prayer.

When deciding to become a missionary priest, I wrote two letters asking for information, one to the SMA missionaries and one to the SVD.

The SVD answered promptly. A visit to our minor seminary in Teteringen was decisive. I liked those priests who were working in overalls. Just ordinary men.
Reading stories of other misssion congregations and the life and work of some of their members, I did not see too much difference in the spirituality of the SVD, MSC, the Oblates of Mary, the Sacrament Fathers, the Missionaries of Marianhill , and some others ... what was so very particular about us SVD ?
But then I had the Nemi experience in 1969. I became proud to be an SVD, especially with our paradigm of Crossing Over into other cultures, and later on our multiculturality.

Fr-Wim-Valckx---Jubilee---at-Mass---350Nearly all of my missionary life I have been crossing over into other cultures, PNG, German, Australian, Cambodian and finally my life of crossing over ended when I became full time chaplain of Dutch Migrants in Melbourne in 1998. It felt like coming home. To tell the truth: One can get tired tired of crossing over.

During my mission life, I lived mostly outside a closed community. In Wewak PNG, I was more a diocesan man working on Bishops’ committees and doing work on National level for the PNG Dioceses. This life on the periphery of the SVD continued during my time in Australia as chaplain for migrants : Germans / Cambodians / Dutch. I asked my superiors to leave me alone. I did not want to get involved with SVD things-administrative, although I was a member of the Provincial Council by default for two years, and also rector of Dorish Maru College for one year.

Back in PNG in 1986, I became a very ill man and could not stay in PNG any longer. I opted to be transferred to the Australian SVD province at the age of 56 . As I have done a few times in the past, so I do today, I want to say thank-you to our late Fr Peter O’Reilly and his council of the day, for allowing me to come to Australia. Here in Australia I was offered a freedom and opportunities, the equal of which I would not have been granted in my home country. An astonishing example is, that I was given permission to drive by campervan all around the whole of Australia for eight months. It was a year of relaxation, reading and praying. I came back and people said: ‘You are a changed man.’

Religious life has been a life-saver for me, literally. Over the last 25 years I have slowly discovered the roots and causes of all the troubles and difficulties I have had in my life, psychologically and especially physically (my mental and physical health). I dare say that , if I had not become a religious, I would have died long ago. Our way of life leads us to reflect on ourselves, reflect on what is offered us continually as food for mental health and faith health, and also
grow in understanding of the miracle of the Incarnation. Without all these many conferences, spiritual books, retreats, examples and advice of many good and holy people, I would not be standing here.

Fr-Wim-Valckx-cuts-the-cake---Jubilee---350Now in my declining years, I still can make up a little for all the goodness that has come to me through the SVD and make my small contribution to SVD community-life in several small ways. We SVD seniors here in Marsfield, are lucky to live in this community, where life goes on with a lot of younger people and their work around us, and where we are taken care of by a devoted staff in our AJ house and the Office.

Setting out for my missionary life in 1962 , I walked as a pilgrim to Our Lady of Kevelaer, just across the German border of Venlo, some 30 km from Steijl. I did so to ask for Our Lady’s blessing and protection. In the year I left PNG (1986) a charismatic priest, Vincent Doyle, prayed over me and then said “I see our Lady who keeps you under the protection of her mantle”.

On this feast of the Nativity of Our Lady, I am happy to share with you, that I believe it was that large mantle of our Lady of Kevelaer, that has been protecting me.

I wish all of you also a long life-giving journey in the SSpS and SVD.

PHOTOS: Pictured with Fr Wim is Simon Prospero SVD who renewed his temporary vows on the same day that Fr Wim celebrated his Silver Jubilee.