Short Life-Story of Bro. Hubert Frese (Until 1994 Bro Wendelin)
Bro. Hubert was a man of work. He was a man of prayer and a man of helping anyone, anytime.
Already as a young boy he had to work very hard on his father’s farm. In the mission-house, St. Augustin, he had to look after the dairy farm because the other Brother had fallen ill. At that time Hubert got up at 2 a.m. to milk 20 cows, and that as a novice. On Karkar Island for 26 years he spen all his energy managing a big mission plantation. The rest of his years he worked in Mingende and Kondiu High School doing maintenance work and all kinds of other odd jobs.
Even though Hubert worked very hard, he still found time to spend with the Lord in Prayer. He was faithful during the day in paying the Lord short visits in the chapel. At night, after dinner, he would spend an hour or even more with the Lord.
Bro Hubert lived a life of service for others. His needs were few, but he helped others in their time of need. Every day and anytime he served them with a lovely smile on his face.
Bro Hubert was born in the year 1929 in a very small village in northern Germany. They were nine children in the Frese family. He had four sisters and four brothers. When Bro Hubert was only 3yrs old he lost his mother and three years later his father also died. Relatives wanted to separate the children and give them to different families, but all the children were determined to stay together. Luckily his paternal uncle decided to look after the nine children. This uncle was actually engaged to be married so he asked his fiancée if she would be willing to marry him and look after the nine children, but she declined. So Uncle Joseph became the loving father of the nine children, and never married.
Bro Hubert had to work very hard on the farm. When the Second World War started all his brothers had to serve in the Army. And so it was Uncle Joseph and Hubert who looked after the horses, cows, pigs, sheep and chicken plus all the work of the garden and the fields.
Later two prisoners of war came to help them; a young man from France and another from Poland. Hubert was their supervisor and told them what to do and how to do it! Already as a young boy he had to be boss, and he remained a boss all his life especially on Karkar Island where he supervised 70 workers. Even on his Death-bed he was still in charge. When visitors came to see him, he told them when it was time to leave! The two young men from France and Poland were a big help to him and became good friends of his family. They lived in the same house with the family and ate at a common table.
Bro Hubert felt called to become a missionary brother, but had to wait until his brother Johannes, who visited him here in PNG twice, returned from the prison-camp. Hubert was apprentice in a big workshop for farm machinery and there got very good training. At age 25, he finally entered the SVD Seminary in St Augustin and two years later he professed his First Vows as a Divine Word Missionary. He wanted to go to a mission-country, and was appointed to Flores in Indonesia. When he could not get a Visa to enter Indonesia, he was sent instead to New Guinea, to the Highlands in the Diocese of Goroka. It was from there that Bishop Schilling, the first bishop of Goroka, sent Bro Hubert to Karkar Island to manage the big copra and cocoa plantation.
In a crash-course at the hospital in Madang, Bro Hubert was able to earn a Certificate as Medical Assistant. With this he could be a nurse to his plantation workers and to the people around. Hubert worked very hard. He ran the plantation efficiently. He worked so hard though that after 14 yrs his heart began to give him trouble and he was on medication from then on. All day long he worked in the plantation, but at night he would take a movie projector and some good films and drive to a village along the coast to make the people happy by showing them his movies. He did the same at BeonPrison near Madang where everybody enjoyed his visits.
The plantation on Karkar Island was in a Lutheran area and so Hubert built a bush material chapel with Jesus in the tabernacle. On Sunday mornings he would take the tractor and trailer and drive the 26 km to our parish of Tabel on the other side of the island, collecting all the Catholics along the way so that they too could go to Mass.
For 26 yrs Bro Hubert faithfully looked after the plantation. One night he opened the door to feed the cats and he found two guns pointed at him. He fought with the raskols, but they bashed him up very badly. It seems they intended to kill him, but a young fellow pulled Brother into the bush-chapel. Next morning he was taken by helicopter to Madang and then by plane to Mingende. His broken jaws had to be wired in keep them in place. His head injury healed, but he would see now everything double as a result.Luckily with special glasses this could be corrected.
In Mingende he worked in the mechanic shop and was for two years the manager. Later in Kondiu High School there was need for a handyman to do all the maintenance and repairs for the buildings, the water system and the power. The Bishop and the SVD District Superior asked him to take on the job, but Bro Hubert did not want to go. When the bishop insisted, he finally went and within a short time he was very happy and remained there for 16 years altogether. When Bishop Henk called him back to Mingende, Hubert asked: What shall I do now? The bishop responded: You can retire and enjoy your old age. But Bro Hubert was not a man for retiring. Instead he worked tirelessly serving others until he had no more energy left.
Bro Hubert did not smoke or drink and so his health was very robust. With all the worries, problems and hard work on the plantation his heart was affected and began to give him problems. Consequently his blood-pressure was low and so he suffered very much from cold feet. Since he worked so hard and concentrated so much on what he was doing, he would forget about his cold feet and all the other health problems he had, e.g. prostate cancer, constipation and back-pain.
Bro Hubert was not a person for holidays and celebrations. He actually never took real holidays in his whole life. When he was on Karkar Island he would go up the North Coast to Bogia and then by boat to Manam Island. There he would service all the machines, like generators and lawnmowers, fix the sewing machines for the Sisters and sharpen all the kitchen knives and scissors. In the evening he would sit with Fr. Kuhn, his wantok, on the verandah enjoying the view of the ocean and the erupting volcano.
In 1994 he went on home leave to Germany for the last time. Of the three months in Germany he spent six weeks in the hospital undergoing two operations. When leaving his wantoks he said to them: Good-bye to you all. See you in Heaven!
Bro Hubert followed the example of St Francis of Assisi. He had only a few needs and was happy to wear his same sandals for thirty years, and used mostly second hand clothes. He did not like any waste of time and/or materials.
Bro Hubert was indeed a genius in repairing anything and everything, whether small items like watches or door locks, or big things like tractors and cars. Everybody seemed to go to him, and ask him for help and service and he never refused to help.
Bro Hubert showed us how to give up things as well. He was very fond of his little red Suzuki with open back, but one day, about four years ago, he suddenlygave it up. For many years he repaired watches and alarm clocks, but last year suddenly he got rid of a big heap of spare parts and also of all the second hand locks he had.
On the 6th of November we celebrated Bro Hubert’s 84th birthday. Already then he was not able to enjoy the special meal prepared for him, and ate very little. Gradually it got worse and he spent a few days in the Mingende Hospital. Later he spent about 5 weeks in the Kundiawa General Hospital, all the time getting weaker and weaker. Two ladies took care of him day and night with very much love and care. Many visitors came, especially the Sacred Heart Sisters in Kundiawa who brought him some food he liked, but he was too weak to talk. For ten days his grandnephew from Germany was at his bedside, caring for him and praying with him the rosary which he loved so much.
The last week of his earthly life Bro Hubert spent in our Mingende Hospital. On his last day our Bishop Anton celebrated Mass next to Bro Hubert, gave him Holy Viaticum and then anointed him. At 1:15pm he passed away peacefully to be with the Lord forever.
Bro. Hubert s funeral was a celebration of his wonderful life of dedicated service. Four
Bishops and twenty-nine priests were concelebrating at the funeral mass. There was an
atmosphere of thanksgiving and joy, rather than sorrow.
May He Rest in Peace