GOLDEN JUBILEE and FAREWELL: FR KEES KEIJSPER OP
On Saturday 21 July 2012 about two hundred people gathered at Bronville parish near Welkom, together with local Bishop Peter Holiday and about twenty Dominican friars to celebrate the golden jubilee of Father Kees Keijsper OP who had spent forty eight years working in South Africa, mainly in the diocese of Kroonstad. Fr Kees will be retiring to Holland in August and so this was also a farewell.
After the joyful celebratory mass in Bronville where Fr Kees had ministered, a reception was held at the Dominican School hall in Welkom where a feast had been prepared by members of the parish and the Knights of da Gama.
Several tributes were paid to Fr Kees by speakers who highlighted his many activities. He was a big man in every way whose life was marked by commitment and hard work. In the Kroonstad diocese he had worked in many parishes and did much in the training of deacons and lay ministers. He encouraged initiative and leadership. He had spearheaded a resource centre in Welkom and also the Thabiso Skills Training Centre. He was a man full of ideas and was a consultant in the diocese and a counsellor to several bishops over the years. Archbishop Stephen Brislin, the former bishop of the diocese, praised him in a glowing written tribute for the accompaniment and assistance shown him as a young priest being introduced to the diocesan ministry. Unfortunately the archbishop could not be present at the farewell.
Fr Kees was a tireless fundraiser. He did much in the area of fundraising in and for the diocese where he also promoted the Brenninkmeijer Trust Fund which would provide some of the funds needed for the education of priests in the diocese and the Dominican Order. He always had a concern that the vicariate and diocese be selfsustaining in the future. He played a leading role in the editing and publishing of the book on the late Bishop Hans Brenninkmeijer – The Bridge Builder.
He spent some years working as the parish priest of Springs. Fr Kees is a born catechist and spent much energy introducing Family and Community Catechesis to the country through the SACBC and worked with Fr Owen Farrelly SDB on this project.
Fr Kees did much pioneering work in the Dominican Order. He worked tirelessly in raising funds for the Order in South Africa. He played a leading role in the building of EmaPhethelweni Priory in Pietermaritzburg which also houses a conference centre and public chapel.
He never lost his enthusiasm for preaching and studied at the Aquinas Preaching Institute in St Louis USA. He was a founding member of the local Dominican preaching team. As the one responsible for the studies of the brethren in South Africa he took a lively interest in their studies and raised the money needed especially for their postgraduate studies. He also served on the vicariate council for some years.
After a very fulfilling and committed pastoral life in South Africa Father Kees was congratulated on all accounts and wished a deserving rest back in his home country where he would certainly enjoy reading, good food and theatre. He leaves big shoes to be filled and we hope to build on the great foundations he laid.
We all wish him rest and good health in these years of retirement. Alas, on his return to Holland he was appointed the assistant (Socius) to the newly elected provincial. So much for retirement!