This anthology on the last days of Wim Fasol’s life was compiled from various letters the family received from Sumatra at the time of his passing.
On 15 November Wim writes to Romé and Tilly. He tells them his health is good. He feels fit. Every day, he rises at 5 o’clock to take a 40 minutes’ walk, after having taken a shower. Then, it is time for some meditation. Holy mass at 6.30 AM and he prays his Liturgy of the hours. At 7.30 AM he has breakfast. A plate of rolled oats and 2 slices of wheat bread. Then, some work: office work, visits to the poor, teaching a class of 19 novice sisters, conferences for Japanese sisters, bible clubs and neighbourhood visits. Twice a day he goes to the chapel for prayer. On 12.30 he has lunch, followed by a siesta until 3.00 PM. An evening sandwich at 6.30 PM; 9.30 PM is bed time. Wednesday is his day off. His heart is doing well. The bowels, as always, restless. He sends his greetings to mother. And he greets Tilly’s mother. She is approaching the age of 90 years and he says: “I will never reach that”.
(Letter of 15 November of Wim to his brother Romé)
On Sunday 18 November Kabanjahe celebrates the 450th anniversary of the Catholic Church in Indonesia, and simultaneously the 45th anniversary of the mission in the Karo-lands. Wim celebrates the commemorations, together with his fellow missionary Max Brans, in high spirits. Then, a few days later, a new message arrives.
As usual he rises at 5 o’clock AM on Friday 23 November, 1984. He is not feeling quite well and takes a pill under his tongue. Sister Catharina, a Japanese nun who lives next door to the rectory, takes him to St. Elisabeth’s hospital. After a while, he talks as ever. At 6.30 AM he lies in his hospital bed. Around 7 o’clock, there are new difficulties. A severe attack, he does not respond to medications. In the intensive care, his hart can no longer be activated. The bishop is summoned. Shortly after 8 o’clock, he dies, as the bishop anoints him and says the last prayers.
(Letter of Max Brans to mother and the family)
The news spreads through Medan and the Karo-lands like wildfire. A night watch is held in the full church of Hayam Wuruk. All night, praying people come and go. Also, the neighbourhoods take turns in vigil. At 6 o’clock, the 18 priests of Medan serve Holy Mass. On Saturday afternoon at 12 o’clock, the funeral takes place in Medan. The archbishop leads, assisted by a large number of priests. A letter of Wim to the Karo people is read, in which he gives them his last advise, because he had felt that the end of his life was approaching. The bishop honours his great energy, effort and dedication to the Karonese. His achievements had been admirable, considering his health problems. A great missionary has left us, the bishop says. Under his guidance, the Karo-lands have become a fruitful mission territory.
(Letter of Elpidius van Duijnhoven of 28 November, to mother and the family)
After the service, a large crowd of Karonese escort Wim back to Kabanjahe. Archbishop Datubara is inconsolable. Monday morning at 12 o’clock, with governor Bupati Tanah of the Karo province present, the funeral service begins. Mourning dances of the Karo-adat are held incessantly from Sunday until Monday afternoon 2 PM. The bishop and the concelebrants finish the dance.
(Letter of Father Wiro, on behalf of archbishop Datubara, to mother Fasol).
In Kabanjahe, it’s overwhelming: thousands have turned up. Many, the men also, can’t hold their tears. ‘Pastor Lisi’ had exceptional pastoral talents; he was much loved by the people. For the church of Medan, his death is a great loss.
(Letter 29 November, of Provincial Gonzalvus to André).
At the location where Wim’s body was layed out, two leprous men come to me, asking me emphatically to write a letter to Lisi’s mother, to tell her of the gratitude of the leprous of Lau Simomo for the attention and care they had always received of Wim. He did what he could to alleviate their suffering. Here, you think of Jesus’s word: ‘whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’.
(Letter, 28 November of Elpidius van Duijnhoven to mother and family)
The funeral rite starts in a large building, a kind of cultural centre, named ‘Balai Kota’. The bishop and all pastors are invited to participate in an adat dance to express mourning for the loss of a loved pastor. The dance is opened by a representative of the Catholic community. The bishop answers this opening on behalf of the pastors present. Then the body is transferred to the church. The church is already completely filled with people, only the body can be brought in through the middle passage. Outside is a crowd, 4 to 5 times as large as the people inside, who listen to the service via loudspeakers. The service is lead by the archbishop, the superior and Wim’s friends, fathers Van Duijnhoven and Max Brans. There are text books, all sing collectively. At the request of the archbishop, Max Brans holds a sermon. They had worked together and supported each other for 19 years of a total of 23 years of missionary work. The service takes two hours. At half past 4 the funeral leaves the church. The coffin is fixed to two long bamboo sticks of approximately 10 meters length, and is carried by 24 parishioners and young pastors. The archbishop, with mitre and sceptre leads the funeral procession. The procession in Kabanjahe is, as estimated by Sjef van Laarhoven, 800 meters in length. He thinks about 6000 singing Karonese participate. Wim is buried in the cemetery for monks, near the agriculture project, for which he worked for 23 years, when he was stronger, about 1 kilometre outside the city centre. On the grave, an enormous sea of flowers is formed.
(Letter of 27 November, by Max Brans to mother and family)
The inscription on the grave is:
PASTOR LICINIUS FASOL GINTING ofm.cap.
TIBUH I VALKENSWAARD HOLLAND 25.10.1927.
IDILO DIBATA I MEDAN 23.11.1984.
Max’s report is confirmed by father Sjef van Laarhoven, with whom Wim worked together for 16 years in the same parish. Different from Max Brans, Sjef says that Wim had opinions of his own (!), but that he looked back on those 16 years with a sense of happiness.
(Letter 27 November, of Sjef van Laarhoven to mother and family)
The letter of 4 Karonese pastors and the parish community is moving. They speak of a miraculous memory, hidden in the hearts of so many ordinary people and in the hearts of the leprous people he loved so much. They came to shed their tears at pastor Lisi’s remains. A moving event. He has become more than a father to us, and also more than a brother of our own family. On leaving his grave, we prayed that Lisi may be happy in the House of the Father. And that he may have a good journey to this place of Happiness. Dear greetings of us all, of the leprous and all inhabitants of town and the region.
(Letter, 28 November of Pastor Simon Sinaga and others, to mother and family).
Genin Ginting’s father sends, as pastor of the Suka chapel a condolence. The chapel sends mother an adat cloth to dry her tears, called in Karonese ‘sapu iluh’ or ‘tear cloth’, in the hope that the Lord may comfort you all.
(Letter, 26 November on behalf of the Ginting family to mother and family)
Memorial in Valkenswaard
The Holy Mass for his memorial is celebrated in the St. Mary’s Church in Valkenswaard on Tuesday night of 27 November, at 7 PM . Celebrant is the provincial of the Capuchin order Werenfried van Venrooy. Sermon by prof. Albuinus (Piet) Leenhouwers. Concelebrants: Pastor André Fasol, mission procurator Huub Boelaars, neighbourhood friend and Augustinian José Geldens, emeritus pastor Jan de Kroon, dean Janus van der Sande en pastor Jos Biemans. All are good friends of the family. The text book closes with a fragment of Wim’s letter:
Peace and Good Wishes. It’s over again. I go back with a happy heart. A heart filled with happy and pleasant memories to so many good people. Thank you for your inspiration, your good company, your support, your cup of coffee. many thanks and Good’s good blessing. Goodbye. Father Wim Fasol.
Condolences in the Netherlands of:
City Council of Valkenswaard, Mayor Van Zwieten of Valkenswaard, the Queen’s Commissioner in Brabant Dries van Agt, bishop Jan Bluyssen (speaks of a good an loyal helper), mgr. Jan van Laarhoven, abbot Ton Baeten, Wim van Gerwen (praying for Wim will not be necessary. We should better ask him to pray for us), emeritus archbishop Ferrerius van den Hurk (was present at the funeral), cousin twice removed rector Loos, cousin Maria Daris, Nelly and Karel, friends from the liberation period George and Hilde from Saffron Walden (England), Marinette en Hiassi from Abtenau, Austria and many others.
On the occasion of the 25th priesthood anniversary (12 August 1979) Wim was decorated for one day in full adat gear as king of the Karo lands: a ceremonial ulos, a golden tire, neckless and bracelet, thus being welcomed as a member of the Karo people. It made for a beautiful photograph an memory.
Anthology compiled by Romé Fasol
26 January 2016