by NZ CATHOLIC staff
Two well-loved Mill Hill missionaries died just days of each other.
Fr Wim Tuerlings MHM
A priest accused of perhaps working too hard in Maori ministry, Mill Hill missionary Fr Wim Tuerlings died in the
Netherlands, aged 84 on December 2.
Fr Tuerlings was born in Tilburg on March 16,1931, the son of Anthony and Petronella (née Kemps) Tuerlings
and had four sisters and one brother.
In Tilburg, the MHMs had a famous red tile-roofed minor seminary and it was there he began his missionary formation in 1944 and continued it in the other minor seminary in Haelen in 1948.
Major formation followed, then four years of theological studies in St Joseph’s College, Mill Hill, London, where, on May 6, 1955, he made his perpetual missionary commitment and was subsequently ordained priest by Bishop George Craven on July 11, 1956, receiving an appointment to Basankusu in what was then the Belgian Congo (now DRC).
In 1964, Fr Tuerlings was asked to take on pastoral ministry in Europe.
In 1965 he was appointed to serve among Maori in the MHM mission in New Zealand.
Over the years, he had the reputation of being on very good terms with Maori and Pakeha. A visitor in the late seventies wrote, “Wim obviously enjoys his work.He is quite handy as a carpenter.He is clearly loved by the Maori people and has a great rapport with them … He possibly works too hard.”
In Tokoroa he built the “Papa O Te Aroha” Marae, served as editor of the newsletter Te Unga Waka, produced a Maori hymnal and wrote a history of the Mill Hill mission among Maori.
Between 1970 and 1972 Fr Tuerlings was recalled to the Netherlands and asked to serve as procurator in the MHM house in Haelen and then do mission animation ministry, as well as a short spell as a military chaplain.
He was reappointed to New Zealand, from where he retired in 2009, having received a Dutch knighthood in 1988.
On November 20 he had a fall and was taken to hospital, where he died 12 days later.
Fr Tuerlings’ requiem Mass was on December 7 and he was buried in the Mill Hill cemetery in Oosterbeek.
May he rest in peace.
Fr Patrick Lorenzo Bracken, MHM
A priest who spent most of his missionary life among Maori people in New Zealand, died on December 5.
Fr Patrick Lorenzo Bracken, MHM, worked for 27 years in Maori ministry. Subsequently, from 1984, he did extensive promotion for his Order, the Mill Hill Missionaries, in Ireland, travelling to many towns animating the people and creating an awareness of their contribution to mission.
(Patrick) Lorenzo was born on June 26, 1932, the son of Samuel and Bridget (née Murphy) Bracken and he had two sisters and one brother. His secondary education was with the Christian Brothers Tullamore (1947-49) where he obtained his Intermediate Certificate and he completed these secular studies in the MHM minor seminary in Freshford from 1949-51. He then began his major formation for the missionary priesthood with mainly philosophical studies
in Roosendaal, the Netherlands.
Theological studies followed in St Joseph’s College, Mill Hill, London, where, on May 7, 1956, he made his
perpetual missionary commitment and was ordained priest there by Cardinal William Godfrey the following year on July 7, 1957, receiving an appointment to New Zealand.
He served among Maori in Auckland, Rotorua and Murupara. A general councillor on visitation about 20 years later noted, that, “He has become in a way a social and domestic counsellor for the township (Murupara).
People are calling at his house at all hours of the day and night… His was a most impressive example of responding to the needs of the whole man.” It was also mentioned that he had been an excellent prison chaplain.
Fr Bracken died at the Carthage Nursing Home in Mucklagh, Tullamore, County Offaly, aged 83.
His funeral Mass was at Tullamore on December 7 and he was interred at Clonminch Cemetery.
May he rest in peace.