Marc Mûelenaere Obituary, Death – Pretoria’s Catholic community lost a giant on August 23 with the passing of Mgr. Marc de Mûelenaere, who served as a priest for 55 years. Eighteen months prior, he had suffered a stroke that rendered him unable to communicate or move about. After being transferred to Nazareth House for round-the-clock care, he was visited frequently by friends and family who took turns pushing his wheelchair, talking to him, and watching television with him. He caught every word they said, but he couldn’t reply. When asked if he would pray, he would nod his head. Combat the Mafia through evangelism and community development.
He was a powerful canon lawyer who oversaw hundreds of annulments and was dubbed a “living archive” for his wealth of knowledge. In 1984, he graduated from Saint Paul University in Canada with a licentiate in Canon Law. He was well-liked for his generous nature and frequently remarked, “It’s not the letter of the law that matters so much as the Spirit.” On 1 February 1943, Mgr de Mûelenaere was born in St Roeselaere, Belgium. In 1952, he was 9 years old, and his family relocated to South Africa. A 1961 entrant to the St. John Vianney Seminary. In addition to his Bachelor of Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in 1967, he earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of South Africa in 1965. The archdiocese of Pretoria ordained him as a priest on December 16, 1967. He picked up Sotho and Zulu during his time as a pastor.
The priest’s work ethic was admirable. When he was just starting out, he’d say as many as six Masses a day. Before he resigned in his 70s, he was still responsible for two churches, St. John Fisher and the church of the Beatitudes in Zwavelpoort. He used to get to both places via commuting. After the 6 p.m. Mass bells rang, he was so fatigued that he fell asleep in his car. He once shattered his leg while making his way up the steps to the sacristy, yet he was back to work in a matter of days. He has also served as the archbishop of Pretoria’s chancellor, dean, and a member of the financial committee, as well as the chair of the board of directors of Sizanani Village in Bronkhorstspruit.
He established and coordinates the postgraduate canon law program at St. Augustine College, South Africa’s Catholic university, and taught canon law for many years at St. John Vianney Seminary. He was presented with St. Augustine’s illustrious Bonum Commune Award in 2018. Two popes, a president, and a king have all bestowed honors upon Mgr de Mûelenaere. He was made a personal chaplain to Pope John Paul II in 1993, earning him the title of “Monsignor,” and Pope Francis awarded him the medal Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice. King Albert II of Belgium made him an Officer in the Order of King Leopold, and French President Jacques Chirac gave him a Chevalier in France’s National Order of Merit. Despite his limited time at Nazareth House, he left an unforgettable impression on many people as a man of passion and purpose.