On Saturday, October 11, 2003, at 5 o’clock in the morning, our confrere and jubilarian as monk, priest and missionary
Fr Theodore Landmann O.S.B.
died unexpectedly after a cardiac arrest in the infirmary of the Archabbey St Ottilien. He was 86 years old.
Fr Theodore was born at Merdingen in the Archdiocese of Freiburg, south-west Germany and was given the name Francis Anthony at baptism. After four years of primary school he entered the minor seminary of St Ottilien in November 1928, continuing his high school studies at Dillingen on the river Danube where he graduated in February 1937. After doing the compulsory 6-month stint in the young workers’ brigade he entered the monastery at St Ottilien in November 1937. A year later, on November 8, 1938, he pronounced his monastic profession and began to study philosophy in Munich. Later he moved to the major seminary in Dillingen.
At the outbreak of World War II he received his call-up papers. He did his military training in and around Munich. In June 1941 he was sent to the war zone in Russia. Deep inside that country he was taken prisoner on July 15 1944 and had to spend four years in a prison camp at Karaganda in Kasachstan. After his release on May 5, 1948, he returned to Germany and resumed his monastic career at St Ottilien. He continued studying for the priesthood first in Dillingen and then (from 1949 to 1953) at the University of Munich. On March 29, 1952, he was ordained priest by Bishop Joseph Freundorfer of Augsburg. On completion of a course in pastoral theology he received an assignment for the Zululand mission where he arrived on June 15, 1953.
He spent his first three years at Twasana to learn the Zulu language and to become familiar with the new environment in which he was to work. He was introduced into pastoral work by the most experienced Benedictine, veteran missionary Fr Theodos Schall (1884-1955). The three-year period of initiation was followed by stints at the three largest mission station: Mahlabatini (1956-1958), Nongoma (1958-1961) and Holy Cross Emoyeni (1961-1964). Then followed a long and fruitful period of pastoral service at the Little Flower Mission, Eshowe, where Fr Theodore spent thirteen years (1962-1975) in the Zulu speaking parish. It was during this time that he became very involved in promoting closer ties among the different Christian churches in town. He established a close friendship with the then Anglican bishop of Eshowe, Alpheus Zulu, and with a good number of ministers from other churches. He was also very active in the Zululand Council of Churches. His name was well known in ecumenical circles in Zululand and beyond. Even after his transfer to Nandi Mission (1975-1977) and eventually to St Pius X Parish at Melmoth (1978-1991) he remained a leading figure as far as ecumenism was concerned.
The seven years Fr Theodore spent as soldier and as prisoner-of-war in Russia had affected his health. Although he made every effort to keep fit his physical condition deteriorated over the years. In 1991, when he was on home-leave in Germany, he decidee not to return to South Africa but to accept an offer to become chaplain of the Benedictine Sisters of Tutzing in their retirement home. He served them for almost nine years until ill health forced him to return to St Ottilien, the monastery of his profession. There he continued to join faithfully in all the community exercises as long as his physical condition allowed him to move around.
Fr Theodore was a shining example of a Benedictine Missionary, conscientiously fulfilling his monastic duties and being a zealous and compassionate pastor. He is especially remembered in Zululand where he had worked for thirty-eight years.
May God grant reward him richly for the service he has rendered. We recommend our confrere to your prayers.
The Office of the Dead will be prayed on Monday, October 13, 2003, in the Abbey Church at Inkamana. The Requiem mass will be celebrated on Tuesday, October 14.
Inkamana, October 11, 2003 Abbot Godfrey and community
P. Theodor Landmann
1917 - 2003, Missionar im Zululand, Spiritual
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