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South Africans Pay Glowing Tribute to Missionary, Founder of First Catholic Radio

Late Fr. Emil Blaser who passed on Monday, November 16.

Members of the Clergy, Religious and Laity in South Africa have paid glowing tributes to Fr. Emil Blaser, a Religious Missionary Cleric known for founding the first Catholic Radio Station, Radio Veritas who passed on Monday, November 16.

The 78-year-old member of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) passed on in a South African hospital where he had been admitted for some time.

“Fr. Emil will be sadly missed and deeply mourned by all of us at Radio Veritas. We have lost a Director, a mentor, a father, a friend and a Pastor and the Church has lost a wonderful and gifted priest,” the leadership of Radio Veritas says in a statement published Tuesday, November 17.

“A light has gone out at this radio station and in the Church in South Africa,” members of Radio Veritas say about the late Dominican Priest, extending their “deepest condolences to his family and to his brethren in the Dominican Order and to all who knew and loved him.”

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Ordained a Priest in December 1967, Fr. Emil served as the Provincial of the Dominicans in South Africa and an Associate Secretary General of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) in the 1990s.

It was while serving as the media officer of SACBC that he realized the idea of establishing Radio Veritas in 1999. 

Catholic Bishops in South Africa have eulogized the late Cleric, remembering him for his “visionary and inspiration of Radio Veritas bringing the Good News to the people of South Africa.” 

“His message was that God is with us, the Lord is risen,” the Bishops recall messages of the Priest who aired various shows including the “Matins show” which he hosted for 17 years, from 2001. 

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The Bishops continue in reference to the Dominican Cleric, “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.”

“As his voice falls silent, we no longer hear Fr. Emil besides us in our homes, in our cars; we miss him waking up, going to bed, accompanying us in our prayers,” they add. 

Inspired by his works, the Prelates in South Africa urge the people of God in the country to “touch that faith and trust in God, which inspired Fr. Emil.”

In the November 17 statement, the Catholic Bishops extend their condolences to the family of the late Cleric and members of the Dominican Family in South Africa “who have lost a brother dedicated to the charism of the Order.”

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“Our thoughts reach out to the staff of Radio Veritas who have lost the one who was their inspiration, director and friend,” they say in their condolence message.

For Günther Simmermacher, the editor of the Southern Cross, Fr. Emil was a “superb radio man” who was “self-effacing about calling himself a journalist.”

“You are a real journalist, I can’t compete with that, he told me many times,” Mr. Simmermacher recalls and adds, “Every time I’d tell him that journalists come in all shapes and forms and that he very much was a journalist.”

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The editor at the only Catholic newspaper in South Africa further says, “I suspect that the radio work came so naturally to Fr. Emil that he felt he couldn’t claim credit for it. But he connected with people on-air, much as he did in person. That is the mark of a great broadcaster. And a great broadcaster, Fr. Emil, is a journalist.”

“That (Fr.) Emil was released from the body, which in the end trapped his spirit November 16 is a very sad day for those of us who knew and loved Fr. Emil. But for Fr. Emil, it was a good day. Freed from the shackles of this world, he is now meeting God. In heaven, Fr. Emil, please pray for us,” Mr. Simmermacher says.

Members of the nine-nation Inter-Regional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA) have mourned the late Priest whose “love for the gospel saw him paying particular attention to the establishment of Radio Veritas so that indeed God's Word could reach far and wide.” 

IMBISA's leadership has expressed the hope that “more people may take seriously the task of spreading the Word of God through the media and especially through Radio.” 

“We pray for the repose of his soul with the sure hope that he may enjoy the beatific vision promised to all God's children,” the leadership of IMBISA implores in a statement published November 17.