Father Arnold Fischer SAC
Born 4 April 1926 – Died 21 January 2013
He was 86 years old, 61 years a Pallottine and 57 years a priest. Born on the 4th of April 1926 in Brachbach-Büdenholz (Diocese of Trier) as the son of Vincent and Anna Fischer, née Zimmermann, Arnold grew up in a staunch catholic family of 8 children. From 1932 till to 1940 he was a pupil at the local catholic primary school in Brachbach and after this; he qualified himself as a technical drawer in Siegen. Quite interested in the technical world he followed two semesters engineering in a specialised institute in Friedberg (Hessen) until he was called up in 1944 for military service in the marine where, quite soon he was taken prisoner of war till August 1945 when he was released.
The events he witnessed during the war and imprisonment impressed him so enormously that he questioned his career until then. Having been quite active in Church life on local level and also deeply inspired through the life of the now canonised Belgian Father Damien de Veuster who was the apostel to the lepers on the Hawaiian island of Molokai, he came to the conclusion that he had to become a priest and a missionary.
December 1945 he went to Limburg an der Lahn, where the Pallottines had opened a minor seminary for mainly people coming back from the war, being too old to study at an ordinary gymnasium. After his matriculation in 1949, he went to the Pallottine noviciate in Olpe (Westphalia) because he was convinced that he would find “The best chances to put his abilities and energy in the service of God in the framework of the Pallottine projects.”
On the 25th of April 1951 he made his first consecration. On the 2nd of April 1955, he was ordained a deacon in Vallendar by the bishop of Nagpur (India) Eugene D’Souza, and, on the 17th of June 1955 he was ordained a priest by the Australian Pallottine-Bishop Otto Raible.
His superiors sent him to South Africa, where he arrived at the end May 1956 in Cape Town.
Six times he took over the pastoral responsibility in the mission stations of the Diocese of Queenstown. To get acquainted to the language and the mentality of the local people, he stayed one year in Zigudu. From 1957 till to 1984 we see him at work in Cofimvaba. Till 1962 he resides in Butterworth and till 1969 he is the pastor in Willowvale. From 1976 till to 1984, he is pastorally working first in McKay’s Nek and finally in Qoqodala.
His love for the Xhosa people was so big that he learned their language till to the degree of perfection, a perfection which manifested itself in the publication of an English-Xhosa dictionary which became, thanks to his tireless searching and exploring, an officially recognised standard work in the academic world.
His pastoral zeal was based upon some very clear structures concerning the spiritual and material needs of the several congregations where he was in charge.
For him it was clear that every community needed a place where catechesis and worship could be practised in a dignified way. With the help from his native country he built at least 14 churches and chapels and he also gave the best of himself in the formation of catechists at the Lumko Institute which he headed from 1970 till to 1976 and for which he did preparatory studies at the Lumen Vitae Institute in Brussels and at the university of Johannesburg, where he studied anthropology.
Father Arnold Fischer was a zealous and also a very pious man. His piety was very Christological and helped him accurately during his ministry in places where people could feel themselves really lonely.
His whole life he remained a committed Pallottine with a never ceasing interest in the global life of the Society of the Catholic Apostolate. Never ever he missed a meeting with the confreres, and he served also as councillor and local rector within the territory of the South African Region St. Joseph.
During the year 2008, some old age problems became manifest and he realised that he had to give up the active pastoral life. He left Qoqodala and came to Queenstown, where he lived in the bishop’s house and found some nice times together with Bishop Herbert Lenhof to whom he was befriended.
November 2010, he went back his native Germany, where he adapted himself very quickly to the life in the Pallottine Mission house, where he could spend his leisure time with his favourite interests, namely. Botanic items, the world of ornithology, and classic music.
Slowly, an old health problem which turned into a terminal illness had its grip upon him until he succumbed to it peacefully in the St. Vincent Hospital in Limburg on Monday, the 21st of January, the day before the Feast of St. Vincent Pallotti, the Founder of the Society of the Catholic Apostolate to which he belonged for 61 years.
Father Fischer will remain in our memories just as his Novice master described him 61 years ago, namely as “a sociable, noble and always very discrete man”.
On Monday the 28th of January 2013 his Pallottine confreres laid him to rest in their own cemetery in Limburg an der Lahn.
May he rest in Peace.
Fr. Edward Tratsaert SAC