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24.12.2021 15:37:49 5860x read.
In Deo bro. Roeland Knufman FIC (Hubertus Johannes Geertruda) by bro. Johan Muijtjens FIC

Roeland shows his nature very clearly in the two lectures he chose for his funeral. The first is on the touching words of St. Paul on the path to truest love and after that, the second, by Mat- thew on the concrete forms of that love, by and between human beings, and how there is no competition because God wishes to be loved in our fellow human beings.

And this appears to be the deep and lifelong wish of Bro. Roeland, Huub Knufman, the man we are now saying farewell to. Some years ago Bro. Roeland wrote his life story, full of details, with some laughter and some tears, and with a permanent undertone of optimism and gratitude. And what I noticed on reading and re-reading this story is the many people he mentions by name. Those exact, personal people he worked and lived with and for whom he worked are apparently very important to him.

Here, at De Beyart, people were always amazed at how good Roeland was at remembering names. For me it became clear that that interest had a deeper source: he really was completely people-oriented and he realized that knowing their names was important, to all of us, let’s be honest. And we can forgive Roeland for showing off a little on that score.

Roeland’s life story is woven from many threads. I want to look at three of them a little.

The first thread is that of his birth in Helmond in 1936, his kind parents, the family of six where he was the youngest, his teacher training, his religious formation and profession, his work as a teacher, his calligraphy work, his ICT ability, and in the end his final place here, of service still, among us in Maastricht.

The second thread is a deeper one: as I said, an entire web of people with whom he lived and worked and for whom he worked. At schools, where he was a good teacher; in various kinds of volunteer work for many years, beside his official work, and where I think he even more showed the qualities of his heart. And he writes that that is where he received much affection in return.

And that certainly included his relatives, who he loved very much. It gave him much energy. At various jubilees in his life he was always happy to tell us there would be many friends coming: people he knew from many years of work with the sick, the old, the lonely, in particular from his days in The Hague.

When he moved to Maastricht, he wrote an enthusiastic tale of that for our website. But more, within a few weeks he’d already started helping again at our infirmary here at De Beyart, where among other things he’d help people tell and write down their life stories. For many of them that was a great experience which gave them much comfort.

The third thread in his life I want to touch on is linked to our second lecture today, the deep connectedness Roeland felt to the Eternal who carried his life. He didn’t talk much about that, but his faithful attendance at joint prayer moments, his inspiring texts, his daily reading, his love of classical and religious music, indicate to me a dimension of his live that was the main source of his inner strength. And that strength was something he really needed.

In his life story, as I said, there was laughter and there were tears. Laughter, when he had good contacts and experiences with other people, tears when there were misunderstandings, perceived injustice, his own difficulties in dealing with things. And at such moments his fellow Brothers also didn’t always know what to do to help him.

But looking back on the entirety of his life, what I see most clearly is that in those final years of heart failure and kidney dialysis, Roeland was so courageous in bearing that last difficult stage. For me, Roeland is an example of how a human being, keeping true to its nature, nevertheless matures, becomes more open, carefree and grateful and ends up living in gladness and surrender. The pain and the difficulties remain, but they are experienced in a different manner, they are no longer in the way of deep peace and real happiness.

May we remember Roeland in that way, a precious man, friend, fellow brother, with a rich experience in life with all its ups and downs, following a path with a positive direction, a strong motivation, a valuable goal, a path he went gladly. A path that did not break off or just ended. On the contrary, his path was completed, bringing him to life with Him who is for all of us the Way, the full Truth and the complete Life.


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