Article and photos by Fr Camille Konkobo, Vocation Promoter.
Fr Henk van Kessel has clocked 90 years old of age on the 7th September 2016. The Missionaries of Africa in Chipata organized a celebration for him on September 11. Close to 30 people gathered around him; religious men and women and lay people.
Prayers and a meal were shared including the raising of a glass for a toast in his honor lead by Fr G. Nyoni, diocesan Pastoral Coordinator in Chipata. Being asked his secret of his longevity, he simply replied; “Do not stop breathing!” On behalf of the Missionaries, Fr Jean Luc Gouiller spoke kindly about Fr Henk who himself encouraged each one to remain disciplined and moderate in our way of life. “The secret of reaching 90 years is regularity, discipline and prayer”. He added: “I am happy to celebrate this moment with you all”.
Fr Henk took the opportunity to thank everybody who made it possible for him to be who he is today. He expressed gratitude to Fr Camille Konkobo for being instrumental in organizing and inviting all the communities within Chipata for the event.
In return Fr Camille thanked also the invited guests and all the confreres who sent a message of best wishes to Fr Henk. Those messages were read at the great amazement of each one. The day ended with the blessing of Fr Henk.
The psalmist says in Ps 90. 10: “Seventy is the sum of our years, or eighty if you are strong.” Where can we put Fr Henk? Has he not challenged the psalmist? Reverend Fr Henk, ad Multos Annos!
Henk van Kessel appointed Knight of the Order of Orange, Chipata, Zambia.