Fr Bernhard Thiel CMM, Rest in Peace
By Archbishop Paul Mandla Khumalo CMM – Mariannhill Missionaries Father Bernhard Thiel died in a car accident on August 25 near Port Shepstone. He was 82.
Born in Trebnitz, Germany, on June 15, 1938, he entered Mariannhill Missionaries’ novitiate, on September 29, 1958 in Mönchdeggingen, Germany, and received the religious name Eberhard.
He made his first religious profession in Germany a year later, and came to Mount St Bernhard in Pretoria, where his congregation had a house of studies. He registered for philosophy studies at St John Vianney Seminary.
Fr Thiel was ordained a priest on January 9, 1966, in Germany. A few months after his ordination, he returned to South Africa for his religious and missionary work.
He was appointed secretary to the bishop of Umtata, but in 1968 was assigned to Mariathal mission, and the following year to St Francis College as the boarding master for one year.
From 1970-77 Fr Thiel served as assistant priest to Fr Theodor Maier CMM at Kevelaer mission. After a short stint as the parish priest of St Murumba parish in Umbumbulu, he served as priest-in-charge at Mophela near Hammarsdale, St Catherine’s mission in Bulwer, Kevelaer mission (1988-96), where he was the rector of the Marian shrine, Maryhelp mission eNcalu, Creighton in eMasimini, and Our Lady of Fatima in Sea Park.
From 2010-16 Fr Thiel was the chaplain of the Poor Clare Sisters at the Capuchin convent in Melville, and then chaplain of the Precious Blood Sisters at the Scared Heart Home in Ixopo.
In November 2017 he was appointed to St Joseph’s church in Port Edward, Umzimkulu diocese. He served the people of Port Edward until August 25 when he was called to eternal rest in a fatal car crash that took place between Ramsgate and Southbroom.
Fr Thiel will be remembered for his selfless service to his congregation and the Church. He was not a man of many words and enjoyed his solitude.
He was a good friend of the kitchen as he was very particular about what he ate. He preferred to cook for himself whenever possible.
At Sea Park parish where he worked for five years, the parishioners remember him as “a humble and unassuming man who was the epitome of what a man of God should be, a humble and intelligent man, a kind and dedicated priest, a contemplative man of few words, living quietly and simply with few needs”.
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