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Swiss Priest "Figure of Development" of Divine Word dies at 94 in Indonesia 

Father Anton Ernst Waser, SVD

Father Anton Ernst Waser, a Swiss "development figure" and Divine Word Missionary (SVD) who served in Manggarai, Flores, Indonesia, for 46 years, passed away on September 7 at 4:43 a.m.

The Manggaraian people in Flores have benefited from Father Waser's development endeavors in the fields of education, schools, places of worship, infrastructure (including roads), and the development of pure water.

Father Paulus Tolo, SVD, Provincial SVD Ruteng, Flores, reported his passing in the Grief News and Invitation.

"With profound condolences, we convey to the bishop, priests, religious brothers/nuns, and faithful that Father Anton Ernst Waser, SVD, priest, missionary, and God's beloved, has returned to our Heavenly Father's home at the age of 94," said Father Tolo.

Father Waser was born on June 15, 1929, in Wolfenschiessen, Switzerland, to parents Paul Waser (+) and Marie Feucheer (+). 

Waser attended elementary and secondary school in Stans from 1941 to 1949. In 1949, after concluding his secondary education, Waser applied to enter the SVD novitiate.

From 1949 to 1955, he participated in the postulant, noviciate, and major seminary years.

Father Waser was ordained in 1954 and assigned to Switzerland promptly thereafter.

After 13 years as a young priest, Father Waser had the opportunity to resume his legal studies from 1968 to 1973 at the University of Zurich.

From 1956 to 1968, he taught at a private school in Marianburg after being ordained a priest in 1954.

Then, between 1968 and 1973, he pursued his master's degree. In 1971–1974, he was designated SVD Provincial of Switzerland.

In February of 1977, Father Waser arrived in Indonesia after leaving Switzerland in the same year.

From 1978 to 2004, he served as the parish priest of Wangkung, diocese of Ruteng, Indonesia, before retiring at the age of 75.

Waser was known as a lifebuilder throughout missionary endeavors due to his labor in education and infrastructure development.

One of the monumental contributions to the Manggarai community was the establishment of the Ernest Education Foundation in the field of education.

The Foundation established Sts. Klaus Junior High School on September 25, 1983, and Senior High School in 1989, among other schools.

Christian Rotok, the former Regent of Manggarai for two terms, recalled Father Waser as a figure who had contributed significantly to the development of Manggarai.

"He was not merely a priest whose duty was to say mass before the altar. He was a true missionary who labored selflessly in every aspect of the lives of his people," said Rotok.

Even more, Christ Rotok recalled, "the deceased helped a great deal by assuming the government's responsibilities for meeting the community's basic needs."

According to legend, Father Waser was present at Manggarai on multiple occasions with a straightforward mission, but his work had a significant impact on the development of Manggarai, including human development.

A graduate of Father Waser's school, Father Juan Orong, SVD, stated that Waser was one of the reasons he joined the order.

"As an SVD missionary, I am extremely pleased with Anton Waser. He is one of the reasons I joined SVD," Father Orong wrote on Facebook.

"He was the model for the first missionary of the SVD, Santo Joseph Freinademetz. He left Switzerland no longer as a Swiss, but as a Manggaraian, said Father Orong, adding, "There is now one more Manggaraian in heaven."

On September 8 at 9 a.m., the funeral mass for Father Waser will be conducted at the Sang Sabda Kuwu Novitiate Chapel in Manggarai, Flores, Indonesia.


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