On 16th November 2020, the Archdiocese of Johannesburg, announced the news of the demise of Fr. Emil Blaser, OP. Fr. Emil, a Dominican priest, was a prominent voice in Catholic media circles in Southern Africa, as the founder of Radio Veritas, the Catholic radio station in Southern Africa.
In his condolence message. Archbishop Emeritus William Slattery OFM, said: “His (Fr. Emil’s) message was that God is with us, the Lord is risen, He speaks to us each day. The voice of Fr. Emil falls silent but the Word of the Lord resounds. It was Fr. Emil who brought us together and made us a family; he made us friends, companions sharing our faith on the road.”
We at CYNESA have been fortunate to experience the friendship and companionship that so many who met Fr. Emil cam attest to, like Archbishop Slattery. In September 2016, a small CYNESA team of 5 from CYNESA Zambia, CYNESA Tanzania and CYNESA Kenya and the secretariat, travelled to Johannesburg for the World Wildlife Conference (CITES CoP17).
Fr. Emil was kind enough to offer the delegation accommodation for 2 weeks at the Dominican community in Johannesburg where he was domiciled. Fr. Emil not only offered us accommodation, but was also very interested to learn about CYNESA, and each of the team members. He lauded our efforts and encouraged us to set up a chapter in South Africa. He wanted everyone to hear our story and to be inspired by it. One early morning, we all bundled into his van and joined him at Radio Veritas for the morning program where he interviewed us. (Link to podcast).
A year later, I had the opportunity to return to Johannesburg with two colleagues, to speak with young Catholics from the Archdiocese of Johannesburg. It was another chance to spend time with Fr. Emil and to experience his hospitality, friendship and humor, even though he was fighting a debilitating illness.
Pray for us, Fr. Emil and in your honour, we will work hard to reach young Catholics in Southern Africa with the message of Laudato Si’.