Last weekend we celebrated two feasts in Tilburg (The Netherlands), in the Peerke Donders Park: on 27 October, as usual, we celebrated the birth date of Blessed Peter Donders C.Ss.R., together with the commemoration of the liberation of Tilburg in 1944, which this year prompted us to a more intense prayer for peace, considering the current wars in the Ukraine and in Israel / the Palestine territories. The celebration had a special festive accent, as the next day we celebrated that 100 years ago the Surinamese-style chapel was dedicated. Therefore, alongside Father Henk Erinkveld C.S.R., it was concelebrated by Father Harrie van den Berg o.praem., from the parish in which the sanctuary is located. Mister Geert Eijsbouts, deacon of the neighbouring parish Peerke Donders, recited the litany.
On Saturday, 28 October, not omitting a prayer for peace in the world, the emphasis of the celebration was on thanksgiving for 100 years of devotion to Peter Donders in the chapel, at the place of his birth, beginning with a mass presided over by Father Jan Hafmans C.Ss.R., provincial superior of the San Clemente province. Father Martin Leitgöb C.Ss.R., provincial superior of the Vienna-Munich province, and Father Paul Vinh C.Ss.R., General Consultor, concelebrated.
In his homily, Father Leitgöb explored two topics: Firstly, the sobriety of the chapel, which reflects the sobriety of Peter Donders and shows that large crowds or lavish buildings are not necessary, but that love, which is expressed both in the dedication of the people and in the details of embellishment of the building, is sufficient.
The second topic was Peter Donders’ message for us today: in his life, he overcame three obstacles: firstly, his difficulties in learning and his poor background, which hindered his desire to become a priest; secondly, the obstacle in going to another continent / another country / another culture, implying that indeed everything would be different from what he knew. Finally, Peter Donders will have had to overcome many internal obstacles. All this he did with fortitude, courage and, certainly in overcoming internal obstacles, with a great trust in God’s help, with which no obstacle is insuperable.
After mass, there was a simple lunch with a Brabant speciality (a bread roll with a sausage inserted) and a Surinam speciality (a cheese pasty). Then it was possible to take part in a guided tour of the park (chapel, birth house, park and museum) and listen to parts of the Missa Petrus Donders, by composer Harry Swinkels from Tilburg, composed in 2009 on the occasion of the 200th year of Peter Donders’ birth, and two songs about him, one of which was in the local dialect.
We concluded with an informal get-together.
We were grateful for the presence of two General Consultors (Brother Laurence Angel C.Ss.R. was present alongside Father Vinh) and the Provincial Superior of the Vienna-Munich Province, for whom it was the first visit both to the Netherlands and to one of the important places in the life of Blessed Peter Donders C.Ss.R.
Claudia Peters, email@example.com