Five decades on the pulpit

Rudi Bowe

Father Heller celebrates Golden Jubilee as Roman Catholic priest in Namibia

Namibia, and in particular Walvis Bay’s Roman Catholic congregations, are proud to celebrate Father Berthold Heller’s 50th anniversary of his ordination as priest in 1971.

Also referred to as the Golden Jubilee of his Religious life of Priesthood, Father Heller spoke to Namib Times during an interview at his office at the Stella Maris Roman Catholic Church in Walvis Bay’s central business district on Wednesday. Father Heller expressed his gratitude to God for five decades of serving in Namibia.
The 82-year-old father Heller was born in the town of Rhön in Germany in 1939. He was ordained as priest in Hunfeld in Germany on 20 March 1971 and became a serving member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI), a missionary congregation focusing on preaching to the poor, especially in rural areas.
This brought Father Heller to the then South West Africa in the same year of his ordination (1971) where he was first sent to Döbra at Windhoek to learn the Afrikaans language. This was the beginning of a spiritual journey which took Father Heller to the pulpit at the Epukiro Roman Catholic Mission near Gobabis, in the period 1985 to 1995 at Otjiwarongo, then Waldfrieden at Omaruru and between 1997 and 2010 at Tsumeb.  Father Heller came to Walvis Bay in 2010 and since served the congregations of Stella Maris (town); Good Shepherd (Kuisebmond) St. Peter’s (Narraville).
Father Heller told of his early contacts with the indigenous people of South West Africa in a time when many white people regarded indigenous people as dirty and poor.  “The time went very fast. I still can’t believe that I am a priest for 50 years. It feels like it was yesterday that I started my career as a priest in Namibia”, Father Heller explained.
Adding: “the highlight for me being a priest in Namibia is, and will always be Namibia’s Independence (1990).
For Father Heller it is also a source of joy that many Namibians were ordained as priests in the Roman Catholic Church since 1990.  Today there are very few European priests in Namibia. Some have returned to their native lands and other have died here.  Away from church matters, Father Heller is a football supporter. His is a supporter of Eintracht Frankfurt, a professional football club in Frankfurt. Father Heller proudly explains Eintracht Frankfurt plays the Bundesliga, the top tier of German football.

Father Heller will spend tomorrow (20 March 2021) the day of his Golden Jubilee visiting people in hospital and at 18:00 will celebrate Mass of Thanksgiving for his Golden Jubilee with his congregation at the Stella Maris Parish.
The Mass will be at-tended by a maximum of 50 people, including the priests and altar boys.
In conclusion, Father Heller expressed his sincere wish that more young Namibians will answer the calling of the Lord to become priests.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login