BUNAN GEGA – News of the death of their much loved spiritual father and first parish priest was received with sadness by the faithful of St Jude’s. Fr Leopold van Rooyen passed away peacefully in his sleep on 2 January in Vrijland, the Netherlands at the age of 90.
Some 2000 people attended the Requiem Mass for Fr Leopold, or ‘Babuk’ as he was affectionately known, on 7 January at St Jude’s Church. They came from 47 kampungs, 35 of which were founded by him.
Before Mass began, the Rosary, led by prayer leaders, was recited in procession around the church compound.
Fr Jerome Juleng, the present Rector, and the first priest to be ordained from Bunan Gega, presided over the Mass with Fr John Chong (previous rector) concelebrating.
In a special eulogy, Raymond Langin, a teacher of St Jude’s Primary School who had worked closely with Babuk recalled with fondness how he, other parishioners and Fr Leopold had walked all the way from Bunan Gega to various kampungs,climbing over hills,valleys and crossing streams. This arduous trek was undertaken by their beloved shepherd with a walking stick.
Daily prayers for seven days were said in each kampung for the repose of his soul.
Plans are underway to build a memorial in honour of this exemplary missionary whose life touched so many and whose tireless evangelistic zeal has become a legend in Bunan Gega.