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In Memoriam Bro. Steven Custers

van de Staf en Studenten van St. Kizito’s Vocational Technical School – Bole, Ghana
en van zijn medebroeders in de Communiteit van Bole.


“Ik hoorde een stem uit de hemel zeggen: ‘Schrijf op: “Gelukkig zijn zij die vanaf nu in verbondenheid met de Heer sterven.” En de Geest beaamt: ’Zij mogen uitrusten van hun inspanningen, want hun daden vergezellen hen.’ (Openbaring 14:13)

Met deze aanhaling uit het Heilige Boek bieden wij, staf en studenten van de St. Kizito Vocational Technical School en je medebroeders van de Bole communiteit, dit In Memorioam van Broeder Stephen Custers aan, een vader voor de studenten, een mentor voor de onderwijzers en een pillaar voor de communiteit in Bole. Zijn toewijding, zijn hart voor de school en voor de communiteit was ongeëvenaard. Zo snel heb je ons achtergelaten in pijn, verdriet en shock!!!

Wat moet ik de studenten vertellen als zij terugkomen van de vakantie? Waar ben je heengegaan? Wanneer zul je terugkomen naar Ghana? Is dit de wijze waarop je ons verlaat? Je hebt ons verteld dat je op de 23st april 2015 voor drie maanden op vakantie zou gaan naar je geboortedorp in Nederland en op de 24st juli 2015 weer naar Ghana zou terugkeren. Wanneer zal ik je ontmoeten op het vliegveld om je terug te brengen naar Bole?

Op de 30st maart vroeg je mij om groene labels te kopen in de stad die had je nodig om de files voor de studenten klaar te maken. Je verliet het huis zoals gewoonlijk , langzaamaan op je motor om dat vreselijk, afschuwelijk en nooit te vergeten ongeluk te ontmoeten bij de ingang van het katholieke gastenverblijf hier in Bole. De constituties van het Ouder-Onderwijzer-Committee die je in je schooltas had om ze af te maken, waar zijn ze? Wie zal er nu aan werken?

Steve, zoals ik jou liefkozend noemde, er is geen twijfel aan dat je eens hier op aarde als martelaar. gekroond zult worden. Je was gereed je leven te geven voor de studenten van St. Charles in de tijd dat er oorlog was tussen de Dagobes en Kokobes. Het geweer werd op je gericht om je te dwingen te zeggen waar je de kokobes studenten verborgen hield, maar ondanks dat gaf niet toe.

Jij hebt diezelfde geest van dienstbaarheid, liefde, mededogen en eenvoud getoond aan de staf en studenten van St. Kizito’s Vocational technical School. Wie zal nu die grote stoel bezetten die je in je kantoor achtergelaten hebt? Wie zal onze examenvragen typen, en kopiëren? Wie zal ons woorden van inzicht en wijsheid geven? Wat moet ik tegen de parochianen van Bole zeggen? Wie zal het dagelijks nieuws in de kranten voor ons samenvatten? Wie zal de studenten die dat nodig hebben hun reisgeld geven zodat ze naar huis op vakantie kunnen gaan? Wat moet ik tegen je vrienden zeggen, bijzonder die speciale vriend van je die van tijd tot tijd helemaal van Wa komt om je financiële assistentie te verlenen? Ik hoop dat de Goede God ons antwoord kan geven op al deze vragen.

Beste Steve, Broedeer Linus en ik, je medebroeders in de communiteit van Bole zullen je ontzettend missen. Jij was een echte broeder voor ons en een gemeenschapsmens. Wij hebben veel geleerd van jouw ervaringen wat ons apostolaat betreft en ons communiteitsleven.. Jouw tijd met de Heer in de kapel was heel inspirerend voor ons. Je houdt van lezen en van delen. Wij houden van jou en God houdt het meest van jou. Onze wegen zijn niet God’s wegen en onze gedachten zijn niet God’s gedachten. De Heer geeft en de Heer heeft je teruggenomen. Wat kunnen, wat zullen wij de Heer zeggen? Alles wat wij kunnen zeggen is, dank U Heer. Dank jullie allen in Nederland, speciaal de familie van Br. Stephen Custers en de FIC familie in Nederland voor de zorg en liefde aan Br Stephen bewezen. Wij weten dat Steve zal doorgaan met ons te steunen met zijn gebed voor de St. Kizito Vocational Technical School waar hij ook is. Wij bidden voor jou op je reis naar je Maker. Moge de Heer je van ganser harte ontvangen en je ziel eeuwige rust geven. Rust, Rust, Rust in volmaakte vrede! Amen.

Bro. Anacletus Tinper FIC
Principal van St. Kizito’s Vocational technical School – Bole. Ghana
23 september 2015

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A TRIBUTE TO BRO. STEPHEN CUSTERS

BY THE STAFF, STUDENTS OF ST. KIZITO’S VOCATIONAL TECHNICAL SCHOOL – BOLE
AND HIS FELLOW BROTHERS IN BOLE FIC COMMUNITY – GHANA


Then I heard a voice from heaven say: "blessed are those who from now on die in the service of the Lord. Yes indeed, answered the spirit, they will enjoy rest from their hard work because the results of their service go with them" (Rev. 14: 13).

With this quotation from the Holy book, we the staff, students of Kizito’s Voc/Tech School and your fellow brothers in Bole community pay this humble tribute to YOU, Bro. Stephen Custers Hubertus. You were a father to the students, a mentor to the teachers, and indeed, a pillar of the FIC community in Bole. Your commitment to the school and community was unparalleled. So soon you have left us in pain, in grief and shock!!!

What shall I tell the students when they return from holidays? Where have you gone to? When will you return to Ghana? Is that how you will leave us? You told us you were going on holidays for three months to your hometown in the Netherlands on 24th April, 2015 and to return to Ghana on 24th July 2015. When will I meet you at the airport to bring you back to Bole? On 30th March, you asked me to buy green tags in town for you to prepare the students files. You left the house as usual, slowly, slowly on your motor bike only to meet that unforgettable and devastating accident at the gate of the Catholic Guest House - Bole. The P.T.A. Constitutions which you carried in your school bag to complete it, where is it? Who will work on it?

Steve! As I affectionately call you, no doubt, that you will one day be crown "martyr"! You wanted to sacrifice your life for the students of St. Charles during the time of the war between the Dagombas and Kokombas. You were at a gun point to show where you hid the Kokombas students, but nonetheless you never gave up.

You have extended the same spirit of service, love, compassion and humility to the staff and students of St. Kizito’s Vocational Technical School. Who will occupy the big chair you have left in the office? Who will type, photocopy our examination questions? Who will give us words of wisdom? What will I tell the parishioners of Bole? Who will summarize the daily graphic papers for us? Who will give the needy students transport money to go home during holidays? What will I tell your friends and particularly the special friend of yours who from time to time travels all the way from Wa to you for financial assistance? I hope the good lord will answer all these questions for us.

Dear Steve! Bro. Linus and I your community members in Bole will greatly miss you. You were a real brother to us and a community man. We have learnt a lot from your rich experiences both in the field of the apostolate and in community life. Your time with the Lord in the chapel was very inspiring to us. You love to read and you love to share. We love you and God loves you most. Our ways are not God’s ways and our thoughts are not God’s thoughts. The Lord gives and the Lord has taken you back. What shall we say to the Lord, all we have to say is, thank you Lord. Thank you all, especially to the entire family of Bro. Stephen Custers and the FIC family in the Netherlands for the care and love shown to Bro. Stephen. We know Steve, will continue to support us with his prayers when he will be fully united with God. We pray for your safe journey to your Creator. May the Lord wholeheartedly receive you and give your soul internal Rest. Rest, Rest, Rest in perfect Peace. Amen.

By Bro. Anacletus Tinper
Principal - St. Kizito’s Vocational Technical School - Bole, Ghana
23 - 09 - 2015

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Tribute in Honour of Late Bro. Stephen Custers, FIC

Provincial Council Ghana, September 26, 2015.


Brother Stephen Custers led a good life. He was a gentle, quiet, humble, hardworking person; he was also a voracious reader, a community man, and above all, a person with great passion for the poor and marginalized in society. He led a positive life that touched on many people within and outside FIC family.

As an authentic missionary to Ghana, Bro. Stephen Custers carried out his apostolate as headmaster of Nandom Secondary School in Nandom and St Charles Minor Seminary in Tamale. When he was headmaster of St. Charles Minor Seminary in Tamale, Bro. Stephen demonstrated that he was, indeed, a “good shepherd” (Jn. 10: 1-ff) who loves, cares and protects those entrusted to him. During the so-called "guinea fowl conflict" (ethnic clashes of 1994 - 1995) between the Dagombas and Kokombas in the Northern Region, a mob of unidentified men suddenly beseeched the Seminary where Bro. Custers was Rector, demanding to see the register of the seminarians. There stood Bro. Custers with his fellow brothers anxiously clustering around him, wondering what the mob was all about. The mob, wielding machetes, clubs, guns and other offensive weapons, accused Bro. Custers of keeping "Kokombas" in the seminary. With great courage that his fellow brothers admired so much, Bro. Custers told the unwelcome visitors that they had no authority to ask for such a document. This infuriated them and they retaliated with a number of "dirty slaps" knocking off his spectacles, amidst wielding of their offensive weapons and reckless shouting. At this point, it was clear that the mob had failed, but they must cause some destruction and so they ransacked the compound, destroying immature mango fruits and causing other worthless commotion. It was at this point that a military vehicle appeared and the whole mob melted.

In the ensuing trouble, Bro. Custers did not give up his resolve to support his displaced seminarians, some of whom were at the military barracks. He visited the barracks every week to see them. While doing this he made arrangements for all those seminarians whose lives were in danger in the seminary, to be transferred to other seminaries or secondary schools in the southern part of Ghana. Bro. Custers did not stop there. He went round to visit these vulnerable seminarians in their new schools. He further in a radical step, approached the then Minister of Defense, Mr. Iddrisu Mahama to report the situation and to solicit for funds to offset the school fees of his displaced seminarians. What a father he was to the seminarians! Shortly after this incident, Brother Stephen retired from St. Charles School to Damongo community where he worked as Secretary to the Bishop for almost five years. In the year 2000, when the new Provincial Council was elected he was appointed the Secretary to the Council. There are no words to describe the way he discharged his work. He did it with commitment, love and passion. He facilitated Council meetings by making all documents ready for the meeting. To be brief, he was an asset not only to the Provincial but also to the entire Province of Ghana. In 2007, he also served the new Provincial Council with the same zeal and passion. In various FIC communities, Brother Stephen Custers accepted the responsibility of the bursary. He took care of the needs of the brothers - serving his brothers in the community was his primary concern. Brother Custers loved his work so much so that he was often reluctant to go on home leave. Any time he was consulted on this issue, he would say he was not tired and he did not deserve a holiday.

Bro. Stephen Custers loved his apostolate. No wonder, in consequence of his passion for the apostolate he was involved in a motor accident on March 30, 2015, on his way to the Bole Technical Institute, where he worked as Administrative Secretary and Accounts Officer. Stephen upon entering onto the major road failed to notice an oncoming vehicle approaching on his left hand side. When he entered the major road he was hit by this vehicle. He did not have a helmet on his head. He fell on his head on the tarred road, fractured his leg and was in comma. He was immediately rushed to the hospital at Bole and later transferred to the teaching hospital in Tamale. At the Teaching Hospital the medical doctors could not make him regain consciousness. Therefore, Brother Stephen was immediately referred to the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, in Accra. Due to his condition he could not have travelled by road to Accra, which is about 10 hours drive from Tamale. An "Old Boy", who is the Minister of Defense in the government, dispatched a Military Helicopter to airlift him to Accra. At the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, a good friend of the brothers, a neuron surgeon, made adequate preparations to receive him. He was given sufficient attention until he was airlifted by a SOS chartered aircraft to the Netherlands for further medical care.

At the end of such a fulfilled life of love and service to the Church, but most especially to the FIC family, Brother Stephen, the Lord says: “Well done, good and faithful servant; because you have been faithful in small things…come and enter into the joy of your Master!” (Mt. 25:21, 23). We trust that you are now in a better place, and deservedly so, for your courage, heroism, and dedication to justice and the truth. We are in your debt, and it is now up to us who remain, to take up that torch and to speak the truth as best we know it, following in your fine example. We will miss your peaceful posture Brother Stephen. Rest in peace and intercede for us.

"Garibanye"! Well done!

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