Former General Praeses Heinrich Festing passed away

KOLPING INTERNATIONAL and Kolping Germany mourn Prelate Heinrich Festing who passed away on 20 April at the age of 91.  

Heinrich Festing had a fundamental impact on the work of Kolping in Germany and all over the world from 1965 to 2002. He was the driving force behind the worldwide expansion of the association as we know it today. With its more than 400,000 members in more than 60 countries around the world, KOLPING INTERNATIONAL would not be what it is without the commitment of General Praeses Heinrich Festing. Kolping Families and Kolping members who knew him personally are still grateful to him for his wide-ranging pastoral work.

Starting with the Action Brazil campaign, he tirelessly promoted the international expansion of the Kolping Society and initiated the foundation of numerous Kolping national organizations in Europe, Africa, Latin America and Asia. Until his death, he found inner satisfaction and great joy in the fact that the Kolping Society has today become a strong association with vibrant local communities – one global family.

“At our last meeting in February, I found a very alert and interested Heinrich Festing who conveyed with his kindness and his personality what Kolping stands for: “to be a family across the generations – worldwide”, says General Praeses Christoph Huber.

In addition to his duties as General Praeses, Heinrich Festing was also amazingly present in his capacity as Central and National Praeses of the Kolping Society of Germany. He spiritually shaped the Kolping work in the Federal Republic of Germany on this foundation. In the countries of Eastern Europe, the Kolping Society was banned and its assets confiscated when communist dictatorships came to power after the Second World War. In divided Germany, there were 175 Kolping Families in the territory of the former GDR who were officially not allowed to maintain any connection with the German central association and the International Kolping Society. However, Heinrich Festing never lost contact with Kolping Families in former East Germany. When Germany was reunited in 1990, he made a major contribution to reuniting Kolping work in Germany as well.

“We will remember Prelate Heinrich Festing gratefully in our association“, says Hans-Joachim Wahl, National Praeses of Kolping Germany. “In those times of radical change following the reunification of Germany and the decline of the Warsaw Pact, his work as General Praeses set a solid, forward-looking course that we still benefit from today.”

Born in Ratsiek near Lüdge-Sabbenhausen on 10 December 1930, Heinrich Festing grew up in a rural environment and attended primary school. From 1945 to 1948 he was trained as a carpenter. He worked as a journeyman for four years, then – like Adolph Kolping, the founder of the Kolping Society – he went back to school to do his A-levels and took up his theology studies in 1956. While working with young people, he had already developed an enthusiasm for Adolph Kolping and his Kolping Society and also recognised from his young career how much a person can accomplish if he continues to develop himself. After his ordination in 1961 in Paderborn, he worked as a vicar in Bigge in the Sauerland until 1965. Then Heinrich Festing was a diocesan praeses in Paderborn for seven years. In 1972 he was elected both General Praeses of the International Kolping Society and National Praeses of the Kolping Society of Germany.  His term of office as National Praeses ended with the separation of offices in 1996. His term of office as General Praeses ended after four re-elections in 2002.

The beatification of Adolph Kolping in Rome in 1991 was one of the greatest successes during his time in office.

Prelate Heinrich Festing will be sorely missed. We will remember him at the tomb of Adolph Kolping in the Minorite Church.

The prayer for the dead will be held on Wednesday, 27 April 2022, at 6.00 p.m. in St. Michael’s Church in Falkenhagen. There will be an opportunity for an open farewell from 5.00 – 5.45 pm. The Requiem will be celebrated on Thursday, 28 April 2022, at 2.00 p.m. in St. Mary’s Church in Lügde. The funeral will then take place at the cemetery in Sabbenhausen. Please note the 3G rule!

In lieu of flowers or wreaths, the deceased asked for donations to be made to Kolping’s development cooperation work: “Kolping International Cooperation e. V.” IBAN: DE74 4006 0265 0001 3135 00, BIC GENODEM1DKM, Reference: Prälat Festing.