Divine Word Missionaries blog will share some of the latest mission updates from around the world. The more than 6,000 Divine Word Missionaries are serving in 84 countries with a variety of provinces/regions that are then grouped into four zones, namely, the European zone (EUROPA), the Pan-American zone (PANAM), the Asia-Pacific zone (ASPAC), and the Africa-Madagascar zone (AFRAM). The zones may work as geographical sub-zones wherever this seems suitable. Check back often for real-time stories from the missions.
Great Missionaries: St. Joseph Freinademetz
Jan 17, 2017
St. Joseph Freinademetz
Joseph Freinademetz was born in 1852 in a small town in South Tyrol, which at that time was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. He was baptized on the day he was born and he inherited from his family a strong but simple faith.
Joseph entered the diocesan seminary, but was already thinking about serving in the foreign missions. He was ordained a diocesan priest in 1875 and began serving in a parish near his home town. After two years of ministry, Fr. Joseph contacted Fr. Arnold Janssen who had just begun a religious missionary community, Divine Word Missionaries.
Fr. Joseph got permission from his bishop to join Divine Word Missionaries and after a short period of training, he was sent to China. For two years, Joseph studied the Chinese language in Hong Kong before being sent to South Shantung on the mainland of China.
In the beginning Joseph had a very difficult time. He was very homesick and found it hard to adjust to his new circumstances. The Chinese customs were very strange to him and he was very critical. Within a few years, however, Joseph began to love the Chinese and their culture. In one of his letters home, Joseph wrote, “I love the Chinese. I want to be Chinese in heaven.”
Joseph served in many parishes and trained many lay catechists to serve the Church. Sometimes he worked too hard and became sick. When there was an outbreak of typhus Joseph visited many of the communities to comfort the sick, and he became infected himself. He died on January 28, 1908. His motto was: “The language that all people understand is love.”
"The Great Missionaries" of St. Arnold Janssen, father, leader, founder, Blessed Helena Stollenwerk co-founder of the Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters and St. Joseph Freinademetz was first featured in Divine Word Missionaries Magazine, Vol. XLVIII No. 3 Fall 2005, issued quarterly.