• 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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Wednesday, 31 August 2016 13:54

Br Hermann - a man of action for God and others

 

Br-Hermann-with-van---350“I’m a man of action,” says Br Hermann Hempen SVD. “I like keeping active and that’s why I love my job.”

Br Hermann’s job is to care for senior SVD confreres at the St Wendel home for the aged, in his home country of Germany. He is also well known and loved in the AUS Province for his years of hard work, care and dedication in Brisbane and Marsfield following his time as a missionary in Papua New Guinea. 

He is back in Australia for a short holiday, travelling from Sydney to North Queensland and out to Alice Springs in a campervan with two of his nephews, and he’s looking forward to showing them what he loves so much about Australia.

“I love Australia. It’s home to me,” he says. “Even though I’m from Germany, Australia is home to me.”

Br Hermann was born in a farming family in northern Germany, near the Dutch border, one of nine children.

He decided on life as a Religious in primary school, thanks to a vocations-minded parish priest, and to an aunt, who was a nun.

After primary school, he worked on the family farm until a visit to the SVD house in Steyl, The Netherlands, led him to the Divine Word Missionaries, where he undertook training to be a baker.

In 1968 the SVD school closed at Steyl and the service shops, including the bakery, closed, so Br Hermann began a four-year stint of being a travelling salesman for the SVD papers and publications, taking his final vows as a Brother in 1969.

By 1970 he was frustrated and began asking his superiors if there was a possibility of him doing some other work. Despite initial knock-backs, he kept on asking and in 1972 he received permission to go to Papua New Guinea, where one of the SVD priests had need of a baker.

“It took me 12 months to get my visa and I landed in Sydney in August, wearing only summer clothes and with barely any English knowledge,” he recalls.

After undertaking language studies for a year, Br Hermann finally made it to PNG where he was assigned to the Highlands. Rather than working as a baker he was assigned to be Manager of Service for a large station, which meant overseeing a farm, coffee plantation, 200 head of cattle, a store, kitchen, hospital, vocational school and primary school.

“It was a big job, but I loved it,” he says.

Disaster struck one day when Br Hermann was cutting trees down with a chainsaw which snapped back and hit his knee, cutting all his tendons.

“The Sisters were very good and looked after me,” he says. “And as soon as I was able, I was walking again with my stick.”

Br-Hermann-with-nephews---350But in 1982 when he visited a doctor in Germany while on home leave, the doctor sent him to an orthopaedic surgeon to take a closer look at the knee, resulting in an operation and eight weeks in bed. Later, he had a second operation leading to 12 weeks in plaster and six months of intensive recuperation and physio.

“It was a hard time, because I’m such an active person and it was hard to be having to rest and recuperate, but it did fix the knee,” he says.

Following his recuperation, Br Hermann was assigned to Australia, where he worked on repairing ‘Marburg’, the SVD house in Brisbane, which was being prepared for sale.

When that job was finished, he began caring for some of the missionaries who had returned from PNG due to illness or age, before himself spending another year in PNG from 1983 to 1984.

When he returned to Australia he took up a service role at Marsfield, keeping the place in good repair and running well, and again caring for aged or ill confreres.

“I looked after my co-missionaries,” he says. “I wanted to have them back on their feet again.”

While on home leave in 2008/09, the Provincial in Germany mentioned that he needed someone to look after the elderly missionaries and despite loving his life in Australia, Br Hermann eventually agreed and, with the blessing of the AUS Provincial, Fr Tim Norton SVD, he returned home to Germany.

Br Hermann says he has loved his life as missionary brother.

“I have loved caring for the confreres,” he says. “I love my work because I am completely independent and free, although I’m on call 24/7 for the nurses, if they need my help.

“There are 100 men being cared for in the place I work now. The oldest is 102. Some are in wheelchairs, one is in bed and two can’t leave their room, while others need help to get to the chapel or that kind of thing.

“When the nurses call me, I can be there in two minutes and I’m always willing to help. The nurses do such a wonderful job.”

Br Hermann’s many nieces and nephews got together recently to give him the gift of a campervan holiday in Australia, which he is now enjoying with two of his nephews (pictured above).

“I love my job in Germany and I do not want to leave, but Australia is my home,” he says. “I’m looking forward to showing my nephews this place that I love.”

Looking back on a life of service to God and neighbour, Br Hermann says the only advice he would offer to someone consider life as a religious brother is to “get a trade or some qualifications behind them”.

“I’m an active person and that’s the way I’ve lived for God and for others,” he says. “I wanted to be an active person in the Church. I didn’t want to be a theologian, writing beautiful sermons, that’s not for me. I’ve loved my life as a missionary.”