Photo : Courtesy of Sankt Ottilien
Well prepared for eternity, Brother Vinzenz Hug died peacefully early in the morning on 31 March in the infirmary of St. Ottilien. He was in the 69th year of his monastic profession and in the 93rd year of his life, making him the oldest member of the community.
Brother Vinzenz was born on 1 October 1929 in the village of Bermatingen, quite close to Lake Constance in the Bodensee District, Archdiocese of Freiburg in Breisgau, as the son of the farmer Oskar and Agatha Hug. The pious parents had a small farm where they tried to support their twelve children. The father died early on when Franz was only twelve years old; two brothers were killed in the world war. The young lad attended primary school from 1936 to 1944. After finishing school, he had to help in the futile construction of defenses against the invading Allied armies. When the war was over, he continued to work on the farm until 1947 when an older brother returned from war captivity and took over its management. The 17-year-old Franz now began an apprenticeship as a mason completing it in April 1950. He then worked at his trade.
In November 1951 he wrote in simple words to St. Ottilien that he had decided to enter a place where he hoped to find his “happiness in life.” The local pastor confirmed in his testimony that the candidate was “quiet, well-behaved and diligent” and had the disposition to be a “good religious.” This decision was certainly helped by the example of a brother two years younger who had already found his way to St. Ottilien. Franz began his monastic life in January 1952 receiving in the novitiate the name Vincent de Paul, a religious order founder known for his charitable work. He professed his temporary vows on 8 June 1954 with final profession on 16 June 1957. Of the nine monks from this large profession group he was the last survivor. In the monastery he served in various jobs. At first, he worked in house maintenance then in plumbing. In addition, he worked as a mason on monastery construction sites in Dillingen, Munich and Wessobrunn.
He was sent to the Territorial Abbey of Peramiho in Tanzania on 23 March 1960, a year after the missioning of his brother, Father Andreas, who is still active there today. Shortly after his arrival, he began serving on various mission stations: Matogoro from 1960 to 1961, Myangimbole 1962 to 1963, Namabengo 1963, Mahanje 1964, Ifinga 1964 to 1971, Matimira 1971 to 1979 and from 1979 to 2011 in Litembo, where he mainly looked after the cow barn and the hammer mill. According to Brother Vinzenz, the tasks of a station brother consisted in managing all the “work that arose” which required some talent for improvisation. When he came for a home leave in 2011 with his brother, Fr. Andreas, he remained behind. At the age of 82, he was still spry, but his strength had noticeably waned.
In St. Ottilien he led a withdrawn life, marked by the times of prayer. He once again proved his talent for improvisation by, among other things, installing a “pool” in his cell and explored the surroundings on a homemade electric scooter. He contributed to the community as a sociable person, who liked to engage in conversation and showed a lot of humor. About two months before his passing he suffered a dizzy spell from which he never recovered. He received the sacrament of the sick and spent his last weeks in the monastery infirmary where he died peacefully.
May he now rest in peace!