December 7th 1992 - Leppich Johannes
† in Münster
Father Leppich came from Upper Silesia. He was born in Ratibor on April 16th 1915. At the age of twenty he entered on April 29th 1935 in Mittelsteine/Silesia the noviciate of the Jesuit Order.
Leppich was not a preacher, he was a street speaker! The roof of his car - a Volkswagen estate car - was his pulpit. His goal was to get in contact with Christ's message the religiously uprooted masses of our time. His unusual gift and an incomparable feeling for the actual questions of the present time helped him to do that.
In all the cities, where Father Leppich attracted many thousands of people, he formed small groups of activists. These 'Father Leppich Circles' became a large layman movement, which called itself in the sixties 'Action 365'. Until 1968 there ware about two thousand teams in thiry three countries.
Father Leppich took over also the support of the internationally known Camp Friedland, with its pitiable streams of east refugees, late repatriates, and of those who returned from Russian imprisonment.
'Action 365' means the number of the days of the year, and wants to say: Each day (shall become) a day with the Holy Scriptures. Leppich reached masses which were not to be won with the usual pastoral means. About 70% of his listeners did not practice any longer. He motivated many of them for a deliberate personal decision for Christ. After his evening speeches at the large places of the cities he usually offered opportunity for confession. Usually several priests were engaged thereby up to about midnight.
Millions have seen and heard him. His haggard figure in the black habit delivered the picture of a modern prophet. With his sharp language, in which he was not sparing with drastic formulations, he lashed out at the grievances of our newly developed welfare society. Scarcely anybody could escape from the suggestive force of his speech.
Sometimes he generalized, by speaking of the physicians, of the priests, of the politicians. That was misinterpreted as propaganda and did him harm. It came even to speech prohibitions by church authorities.
It was a hard blow for Father Leppich that it came to a split-up of the 'Action 365' in the year 1971. He could only badly resign himself to that.
By his hard work through many years his health had been more and more used up. When he 1989 moved into the home for the aged Jesuits in Münster, his will to new pastoral goals remained nevertheless unbroken. A persistent intestinal disease hindered further activities. Few days after a stomach surgery in the Rafael hospital in Münster he died in the intensive-care unit. To the funeral on the Order Cemetery in the park of 'Haus Sentmaring' had come many visitors. They all wanted to accompany him gratefully on his last way on earth.
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