" I be able, by the sacrifice of my life, to bring it about that all know and love God as He deserves "
Blessed Peter Donders C.Ss.R
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Blessed Peter Donders, Thirty years ago...

 

St. Clement Province
Blessed Peter Donders, thirty years after his beatification
A Call for International Support for Canonization
Fr. Henk Erinkveld, C.Ss.R.

(First published in SCALA May 2012) 

petdonders

Thirty years ago, on 23th of May 2012, in St Peter’s Square in Rome Redemptorist Peter (‘Peerke’) Donders (1809-1887) was beatified. It was an important and joyful day, not only for the Redemptorists, but also for the Catholic Church and society in the Netherlands, the native country of Peter Donders, and in Surinam, the former Dutch colony in Latin America, where Peter Donders lived and worked for 45 years among the most abandoned. He spent more than thirty years among the marginalized lepers in the Batavia colony far away from society. His concern extended even beyond the disabled people left for forgotten in a remote area, to the slaves and the neglected natives in Surinam society as well.

 

After the beatification of Peter Donders in 1982 the process of his canonization began. Although some admirers say that this process is not necessary, because for them he already ís a saint, others feel the importance of realizing the final step of canonization; not only as a stimulus for the church and multicultural society of Surinam, but also as a support and recognition for all those people and movements in Surinam and in the Netherlands, who are working and living in the spirit of Peter Donders for the benefit of marginalized and abandoned people like he did.

 

 

 Two new Vice Postulators

 

To give a new impulse to the process of canonization of Peter Donders, a commission for that purpose made an new start. The first task was to find two new vice-postulators (one in Surinam and one in the Netherlands). Their task is to collect documentation about answered prayers brought forward by devotees of Peter Donders and to estimate if they are worthy cases to present to our postulator in Rome, Father Antonio Marrazzo.

 

 

In the beginning of this year Father Ignace Dekkers handed over this job in the Netherlands to Mrs. Claudia Peters, a theologian specialized in canon law and working for several religious orders, including the Redemptorists. In Surinam the vice-postulator was Fr. Bas Mulder; after his final return to the Netherlands this job is now in the hands of the Brazilian Redemptorist Ronaldo di Faria; he is a member of the new Redemptorist mission team in Surinam and he works in close cooperation with the bishop of Paramaribo, Mgr. Wim de Bekker, who is an admirer of Peter Donders as well.

 

It is also important to make clear in the documentation for the canonization, that after the beatification, devotion to the Blessed Peter Donders is still lively and growing. 

 

Therefore we ask all Redemptorists worldwide to inform our commission about the meaning of Peter Donders in your province. We would like to investigate also the ‘name awareness’ of Peter Donders internationally: where are schools, foundations, institutions, groups etc. called after Peter Donders?

 

We want to get into contact with them, to inform them about devotion to Peter Donders and to help them in promotional work. For example we have colourful and illustrated brochures in several languages about the life and today’s meaning of the ‘Apostle of the Lepers’ and ‘Patron of the multicultural society’.

 

Please send your information and inquiries to: 

 

Father Henk Erinkveld CSsR
Chairman of the Peter Donders Commission
Wittemer Allee 32, NL 6286 AB Wittem 

 

Many people are saying also: ‘Just the present-day popularity and devotion to this modest but unselfish missionary, 125 years after his death, is a miracle!’ Because Tilburg is a very secularized city, and like in other parts of the Netherlands and Western Europe, the number of churchgoers is decreasing fast.

 

Since 2005, there is a pilgrimage from Tilburg to Surinam every year to the places where Peter Donders lived, worked and died; more and more people want to join this pilgrimage. In Surinam there is also a growing awareness of the importance and actual meaning of the ideals Peter Donders was fighting for. For the last two years the diocese of Paramaribo has organized a monthly pilgrimage by bus and by boat to Batavia.

 

Increasingly, this remote, former colony for lepers is a place of memorial and worship to Peter Donders.