Tag Archives: Fr. Engelmar Unzeitig

Fr. Engelmar Unzeitig: Model for the Re-Evangelization of the Western World

Icon written by Lewis Williams, OFS
Icon written by Lewis Williams, OFS

Bl. Engelmar Unzeitig, a Mariannhill Missionary priest, was beatified in Germany on September 24, 2016. Known as the “Angel of Dachau,” Father Engelmar died of typhoid fever, contracted while caring for the sick in the infamous Nazi concentration camp.

In the beatification homily, the bishop of Wurzburg, Germany, said that Father Engelmar loyally embodied the Mariannhill motto: If no one will go, I will.” He volunteered to care for those with typhoid fever in the concentration camp, thereby sentencing himself to death. He learned Russian so he could teach the young Russian prisoners, sharing his food with them even though he himself had meager rations.

Three exemplary qualities of Father Engelmar emerge that are pertinent for us today, said the bishop:

The Mariannhill family of priests, brothers, students and CMM associates celebrate in Zambia.
The Mariannhill family of priests, brothers, students and CMM associates celebrate in Zambia.
  • However desperate our own situation may be, we still can give witness to the reality of Heaven.
  • As Father Engelmar kept his promise of readiness, made at ordination, how serious are we about the Gospel message even when we have to suffer because of it?
  • Father joined the Mariannhill Missionaries to be a missionary in a far-off land. When circumstances changed, he realized that even “in this Godforsaken camp, where evil rules and we could easily believe that in our suffering that we are deserted by God and the world,” he could still live his missionary vocation.

With the re-evangelization of Western Civilization as the challenge before us, let us keep Fr. Engelmar as our inspiration and intercessor so that we too may “live our faith authentically, humbly and thereby effectively.”

“Angel of Dachau” to Be Beatified

fr unz picOn September 24, 2016, Fr. Engelmar Unzeitig will be beatified in Würzburg, Germany. Known as the “Angel of Dachau,” Father Engelmar died of typhoid fever, contracted while caring for the sick with this deadly disease in the infamous concentration camp. As it says in his short biography, “He volunteered to go to those doomed to death, thereby condemning himself to death.”

Father was born in 1911 in Czechoslovakia. Four of his six years as an ordained Mariannhill Missionary priest were spent in Dachau where he was imprisoned as a traitor for insisting that one must obey God more than man and for defending Jews. Dachau was known as the “largest monastery in the world” for there were 3000 clergyman detailed there, 95% of whom were Roman Catholic priests. Father was especially solicitous of the Russian prisoners, learning the language so he could he could bring them back to the Faith.

In late December of 1944, Father was one of 20 priests who volunteered to care for the victims of typhus who were dying at a rate of 100 per day. Like St. Maximilian Kolbe, OFM Conv., who gave up his life to save a married man, Fr. Engelmar knew he was marching to certain death.

fr unz iconA fellow prisoner-priest said that the help he gave was a “fruit of his priestly love of neighbor. He gladly heard the confessions of his poor sheep and comforted them in his kind and quiet way in the misery of the camp…He offered them more than just his time and selfless concern. He gave them his whole priestly love. That was his goal while death reaped its terrible harvest.”

In his last letter to his sister, Father Engelmar wrote, “Love doubles one’s strength, makes one inventive, renders one inwardly free and happy. It really has not entered into the heart of any man what God has prepared for those who love Him.” He died on March 2, 1945. The camp was liberated just one month later.

Because he was so highly esteemed, a priest contrived to have his body cremated alone and thus they were able to retrieve his ashes and secretly deliver them in a sewn linen bag to the Mariannhillers in Würzburg. Fr. Engelmar was declared venerable by Benedict XVI in 2009, and in January 2016, Pope Francis pronounced Father Unzeitig a martyr, killed in hatred of the faith.

Father Engelmar Hubert Unzeitig? He was a very dear, precious man. He was love in person. More than that I cannot say. That he was: love!”