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German Theologian of Divine Word Missionary Dies in Indonesia

Fr. George Ludwig Kirchberger, SVD

Father George Ludwig Kirchberger, a German theologian and Divine Word Missionary (SVD), died on June 5 at 19:45 at the Hilers public hospital in Maurere, Flores, Indonesia, at age 76.

Father Kirchberger has devoted his missionary life to teaching and forming students at the SVD Seminary of Saint Paul Ledalero, Flores.

His birthplace was Castle, Bavaria, Germany. His parents, Ludwig Kirchberger and Elisabeth Kirchberger, had him as their eldest child. Kirchberger attended Castle School from 1953 to 1958.

From 1958 to 1964, Kirchberger studied at St. Peter Tirschenreuth. During the years 1964 to 1967, he attended Reuschling-Gymanasium Ingelstadt. Kirchberger earned his Abitur in July 1967 from the Reuchling-Gymansium, where he studied.

Kirchberger entered the SVD Novitiate in St. Gabriel, Modling, Austria, in September 1967.

From 1968 to 1975, he attended the Staatlich anerkante Philosophisch-Theologische Hochschule St. Gabriel in Modling, Austria, where he studied philosophy and theology.

Kirchberger was ordained as a priest on May 11, 1975. In July 1975, he earned a master's degree in theological studies from the University of Vienna in Austria.

On November 10, 1975, Kirchberger arrived in Indonesia. From 1983 to 1986, he attended the Philosophisch-Theologische Hoschschule St. Augustine-Theologische Falultaet angeschlossen and the Pontificium Athenaeum Sancti Anselmi de Urbe for his licensed and doctoral education in theology.

Kirchberger returned to Indonesia as a lecturer after concluding his doctoral studies in theology. He has been a lecturer and formator at the Catholic Institute of Philosophy (STFK) since August 1976, which has now become the Institute of Philosophy and Creative Technology (IFTK) Ledalero. 

According to Hubertus Tenga, the SVD official in command of the affairs of SVD foreign citizens, Kirchberger has several health issues, such as hypertension and respiratory disorders. 

He fell out of bed around 5:30 a.m. on Sunday and was transported to Hillers Maumere General Hospital. Kirchberger's condition became critical around 04.30 p.m. on Monday, and he passed away at 7.44 p.m.

God Sues: A Christian Dogmatic

The book titled "God Sues: A Christian Dogmatic" is one of Kirchberger's most well-known works.

This volume examines the entirety of the Christian faith in terms of acts of faith (fides qua) and the content of faith (fides quae).

Faith as an action can and must be understood as a belief (trust), an attitude that conveys one's belief that God can be trusted and relied on.

A description from the faith perspective reveals that God has a trustworthy nature. Therefore, sin is man's mistrust of God. Humans enclose themselves in the mechanism of sin, which destroys themselves, the world, and especially human fellowship.

According to Kirchberger, God possesses trustworthy and dependable characteristics and does not permit humans to continue destroying themselves and their world.

God sued. God challenges the progression toward devastation caused by human transgression. In this book, Kirchberger asserts that God not only sues but also heals.

"The Bully"

In a eulogy posted at St. Paul Seminary Facebook page, Robert Bala, a student of Kirchberger, refers to him as "the bully." "By exercising theology, Kircberger becomes an irritant to others. Uniquely, he is 'disturbing' to him."

He stated, "Kirchberger frequently disrupts theological rigor and irritates those who seek only to maintain doctrinal purity." 

"Even though he appears stiff, he can raise and convey fundamental theological issues globally. However, he invited the students so they could investigate his presentation in greater depth. It is anticipated that they would be encouraged to ask many questions and conduct extensive research," recalled Bala.

"I consider Kirchberger's departure to be unfortunate. With the death of John Prior (another SVD priest from England who passed away a year ago), a wing was broken; now, two branches are fractured. Their purpose of dismantling theological arrogance and transforming them into role models has been accomplished," said Bala.

"They departed as expatriates who had resided in Ledalero and aspired to be much more Indonesianist than I (we) Indonesians. They are witnesses in the center of the globe," he concluded.-Kasmir Nema


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