Photo courtesy of Abtei Münsterschwarzach

On 6 January 2024 our dear confrere
Father Hugo (Rudolf) Heusinger OSB

died in our infirmary.

Fr. Hugo, a longtime missionary in the territory of Ndanda Abbey, had returned to the abbey in 2020 after his health became very critical due to cancer. But as was his way, cheerfully rising to the occasion, he settled back into his home abbey well. He had just turned 86 years old when he died in our abbey at 8 a.m. on the feast of the Epiphany.
Rudolf Heusinger came into the world on 31 December 1937. His mother Josefine and his father Eustach ran a small farm. After five years of primary school in his home village of Seubrigshausen, he entered the St. Ludwig Mission Seminary in 1948. This date is already recorded in the monastery files as his entry date. When applying for admission to the missionary seminary, he wrote: “I have a great interest in the priesthood.”

The postulancy began on 8 September 1957. On 11 September 1957 he was admitted into the novitiate and received the name Hugo. Frater Hugo professed his temporary vows on 16 September 1958 with solemn profession on 22 October 1961. During his studies at the Ottilien college and theology at the University of Würzburg (1958–64), he was ordained a deacon by Bishop Josef Stangl in 1962 and on 5 July 1964 ordained a priest by Auxiliary Bishop Alfons Kempf.

His first official assignment was as a prefect in our St. Maurus Seminary. That meant pedagogical supervision of a class and teaching religion. After three years, Fr. Hugo was assigned to the mission of Ndanda Abbey. Consequently, there followed three months of language studies in England and then, on 3 September 1967, he was formally sent out. His stations in southern Tanzania included assistant in Kitangali and Namupa (1968–1970). After that he served as pastor in Nkowe from 1970 to 1972, from 1973 to 1977 in Marambo, in Mnero in 1978–79, from 1979 to 1999 in Chigugu and finally from 1999 to 2020 in Nyangao.

During these years, Fr. Hugo had a great reputation far beyond his respective parish. His hobby became a frequently sought after profession. Fr. Hugo helped many people as a watch repairer, radio technician, tinkerer and problem solver on a wide variety of equipment. The heartfelt words of thanks and the delight of his clients were certainly exuberant. Just as Fr. Hugo was so intensely engaged in everyday problems so also was he in observing and commenting on changing times.With this lively participation he enriched the deanery group to which he was assigned until shortly before his death. In all places on his life’s journey Fr. Hugo lived up to what his formators had already recorded in 1955 in a certificate of good conduct: “He is very friendly and helpful, has a real sense for the community.” God knows what these ordinary words meant in deed and in life.

On Friday, 12 January 2024 at 10:30 a.m. we will celebrate the Eucharistic liturgy for the graced life of Fr. Hugo. Afterwards we will carry him to his grave in the monastery cemetery.

Münsterschwarzach, 10 January 2024

Abbot Michael and Community of Münsterschwarzach