Fr. Heinrich Kirschner †
On Sunday 5th August, Father Heinrich Kirschner died in the Regional Hospital of Bolgatanga. He was admitted because of a burst appendix and died from heart failure before his operation. His body was transferred to Wiaga, where it was laid out in the parish church so that all his parishioners could say farewell to their beloved priest. Before he was taken to his last resting-place in the Wiaga cemetery, bishop Lucas Abadamlore, together with many priests, celebrated the requiem. In many speeches they commemorated the merits of the deceased priest. On August 17, numerous Catholics from Pornbach /Pfaffenhofen in Germany attended the funeral rites for the missionary, who, once every three years, during his home leave, had worked in their parish.
Father Heinrich Kirschner was born a German in Falkenau (then Czechoslovakia). As a sixteen year-old secondary-school student he experienced the collapse of Nazi Germany, was taken prisoner of war and was forced to work in a steel-factory. The most traumatic experience of his life was the death of his father, who was slain before Heinrich’s eyes by a guard. At the age of twenty, in 1949, Heinrich Kirschner was admitted to the Society of White Fathers. After completing secondary school he studied philosophy and theology in Holland and Scotland, took his eternal solemn vow in 1955 and was ordained a catholic priest in 1956.
One year later, in December 1956, his fervent wish to work as a missionary in Africa was granted when he was sent to Oyo (Nigeria). He started to learn the Yoruba language in order to get closer contact with the members of his parish. In 1968, after a home leave, he was unable to return to Nigeria because of the civil war. After a few years in Germany (Münster and Rietberg) he was sent to Ghana (1972) to teach biology, chemistry and physics, his favourite subjects, at the “small seminary” of Navrongo. New challenges confronted him, when he was transferred to Wiaga: He had to learn another African language: Buli.
In all the years in Wiaga parish he gained the confidence and friendship of all the Bulsa who associated and co-operated with him by his ready humour and constant helpfulness and assistance when needed. Together with his relatives, friends and confreres we mourn for Father Heinrich Kirschner and keep him in loving memory.
1 I thank Fr. Bernhard Hagen for providing me with data about Fr. Kirschner and sending me the photo.