Brother Frank (1935-2014)

On January 16, Brother Frank, the brother in charge of the fraternity in Mymensingh (Bangladesh), died in his 79th year. He was born in the Netherlands, in the village of Gasselte in the province of Drenthe. After studying languages, he entered the Taizé Community in 1960.

For a long time he had a weak heart, and then lungs. Recently he felt worse and a rapid return to Taizé was decided. A nurse accompanied him. During a stopover in Istanbul he suffered a heart attack; he was hospitalized and died almost immediately. His body was brought back to Taizé, where his funeral took place on January 21 in the presence of his five siblings; he was the eldest.

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A lifetime of self-giving for the poorest of the poor has come to an end. Whatever the place where he spent time along with other brothers of the community, Brother Frank always gave priority to a life shared with the most abandoned, rooted in an intense search for God. At the end of 1964, Brother Roger asked him to make visits to the United States which led to the creation, in 1965, of the first fraternity on the American continent, in Wisconsin. From 1966 to 1971, he was in charge of a fraternity where a few brothers of Taizé and some Franciscan friars lived in a very poor neighborhood of Chicago. Then he spent a year with other brothers in Atlanta.

In 1972, Brother Frank changed continents. He was sent to Asia and made visits in India, where he established especially the first relations Taizé had with Mother Teresa. He then visited Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines. In late 1974, a fraternity in Bangladesh, one of the poorest countries in the world, began, in the city of Chittagong. From there, in 1978, he moved to Japan where, with other brothers, he began a fraternity in the marginal district of Miyadera in Tokyo. At the end of 1979, he helped begin a fraternity in Seoul, Korea, then he left for Calcutta in 1981, and returned permanently to Bangladesh in 1987. The brothers then went to live in the town of Mymensingh.

One day, Brother Frank described these long years of life shared with the poor of Bangladesh with these lines:

We find that those who are rejected by society because of their weakness and their apparent uselessness are a presence of God. If we welcome them, they gradually lead us out of a world of hyper-competition to a world of communion of hearts. As a gesture of communion with believers of Islam or with other believers, we make pilgrimages together with the disabled. This opens up our hearts. When we serve together the poor and the weak, they are the ones who bring us together; it is not we, the strong, who do this, but it is they who invite us to be together, with them.

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Printed from: - 1 June 2020
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