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Vaessen, Victor
1901 to 1980
Catholic
Malawi

He was one of the Catholic missionaries, known as the Montfort missionaries, who planted the Catholic church in Malawi. Born on 13 January 1901 in Holland, he was ordained a Catholic priest on 11 June 1927 at Ben Bosch in Holland. Soon after his ordination, he was sent to Malawi as a missionary, arriving in Limbe, Malawi, on 4 October 1927. His building and carpentry skills rendered him mobile. After one year of service at Neno, he was transferred to Limbe to assist in the roofing of the cathedral. Two years later, he moved to Phalombe to begin constructing the fathers' house and the church. He completed the project in 1932, afterwards moving to Nsipe where he built the fathers' house and ran a tobacco farm on the mission land.

In 1935, he moved to Mpiri to establish a new Catholic mission. He returned to Holland in 1936 for a year-long leave. Upon his return, he was assigned to Nguludi where he stayed for twelve years, from March 1937 to March 1949. His missionary efforts at Nguludi were very fruitful. A new Catholic school was established and the Nguludi church was renovated. He also assisted in the building of churches at Masanjala and the Chingadzi mission. From the European farmers at Nguludi, he bought 450 acres of farm land which he used to grow tobacco and cotton. This land now accommodates big institutions for the Catholic Church: Maryview Generalate for the Sisters of the Servants of Mary, the Montfort College, the School for the Deaf and Blind, the Pius XII Minor Seminary, and the Oblates of the Holy Family.

After another year-long home leave in 1949, he returned to serve at Namulenga where he was nominated diocesan treasurer,--a post he held for two years, operating from Linabe Cathedral. He later served at Likulezi before returning to Nguludi to assist in the building of Maryview and Pius XII Seminary. He then served as the chaplain to the sisters at Maryview Generalate until 1977 when he retired from active service. On 30 April of the same year, he was decorated with silver crosses of knighthood in the order of Orange-Nassau for his outstanding and long service. The decoration was awarded by Her Majesty, Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, on the occasion of her birthday.

When he retired, he chose to stay at Lunzu but moved to the Newlands after two years to serve as chaplain to the aged expatriates. He died 4 August 1980.

Stanslaus Muyebe O.P.


This article, submitted in 2001, was written and researched by Fr. Stanslaus Muyebe, O.P., author and teacher at Saint Joseph's Theological Institute in South Africa. Used with permission.