Few in society have affected lives of a parish than Father Anton Timmerman. He accomplished his noble feat for over 60 years.
Tim, or Father Tim as he was more respectfully know, died in Auckland at the weekend.
He was 100.
Though retired for some 10 years from Rotorua, Fr Tim was a persuader, never doctrinaire, within the robust Roman Catholic community in the city.
Sent out to New Zealand from Holland with four missionaries at the end of World War ll, he later called New Zealand home. In Rotorua, as the essentially government department town grew, so concomitantly did his flock expand
He was pivotal to one significant shift: the merger of McKillop College and Edmund Rice into John Paul College.
Ordained to the priesthood in Rosendall, Holland, in December 1945, Fr Timmerman, after a delay as World War ll Holland was engaged in mopping up, arrived in Auckland in 1948.
After serving in Waitaruke near Whangarei, he moved to Rotorua 11 months later. There he stayed until his retirement from the theological roster in 2009 at the ripeish age of 90.
Fr Tim’s stay of several generations in Rotorua is epochal. For he became friends of descendants of original parishioners who had welcomed him to town.
He delivered mass and sermonised at the rather baroque St Michael’s Church, which juts out toward the southern reaches of Lake Rotorua, or at St Mary’s or St Joseph’s and was noted for the power of his message.
Each hall was his spiritual workplace; he also found welcoming faces in the confines of the family homes and schools he visited.
Fr Tim came to admire the Maori race, to embrace tangata whenua culture. A tall man, he stood out not only for his height to the level of his sermons and breadth of topic.
“His closeness to and love of the Maori people and culture is the stuff of legend,” Monsignor Paul Farmer, Auckland Council of Priests chairman, said.
He said Fr Tim had always struggled with the spoken Maori language but never with his love of the people and the joy it gave to minister to them.”
He served on the committee for the centennial celebration of Catholic education in Rotorua in 2003, one report says, when Rotorua marked 100 years of the opening of the first Catholic school in the district – a mere 15 years or so before he was born.
Fr Timmerman, MHM, lived the last years of his life at the priests’ home, St John Vianney House, in Ponsonby.
His funeral will be held tomorrow at St Mary’s Church.