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Farewell to Bro. Francis †

01 CH-po-Portmann Franz-D121-11Bro. Francis grew up in a humble farmer family in rural Entlebuch, Switzerland. After his apprenticeship as a carpenter and a couple of years of experience, he joined the SMB seminary at Schöneck (1952), where he did his postulancy and novitiate. Skilled and enterprising, he worked for 5 years, first at the seminary and later at the Mission House Immensee.

In 1961, his dream came true: after studying English in London for a year, he joined the confreres in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) where he began to learn the Shona language. Then, for 14 years, he worked as a carpenter and beekeeper and thus contributed to the setting up of the infrastructure of the new diocese of Gwelo. His many talents encouraged the then Bishop, Monsignor Hähne, to engage him at various missions (Driefontein, Gokomere, Serima) where Bro. Francis trained many apprentices. Finally, he became director of the Sanatorium and Muvonde hospital at Driefontein with no fewer than 120 employees.

On December 21, 1985, he suffered a heart attack that required a coronary operation. Affected in his health, he recuperated in Switzerland, but could not stay idle. He resumed his work as a carpenter, beekeeper and bookbinder. He also took on a new hobby: astronomy (using two telescopes).

However, his health left more and more to be desired. A few months ago, he was transferred to the infirmary. On August 11 he left us to join the stars he had observed so much. May he now immerse ever deeper into the wisdom of God, whom he faithfully served. A patient, faithful, kind and very helpful confrere has left us.