Püsken, Benedikt, Fr. (1878-1955)

Prepared by: 
Regina Ganter
Birth / Death: 

born 5 March 1878 Werpeloh (Osnabrück)

died 12 November 1955 Beagle Bay (age 78)

Spent 30 years in Pallottine mission, including at Lombadina (1925-29) and Beagle Bay (superintendent 1929-37).


Benedikt Püsken was one of nine children on a farm near Osnabrück when his father died in an accident. Instead of completing school he had to help on the farm and his idea to become a missionary was put on ice. At age 19 he received private lessons from the director of a private high school to enable him to join the upper classes of high school. He was called up for military service (Garde Infantrie) but was deferred because of his studies. In 1899 he entered the Pallottine college in Ehrenbreitstein (‘Catholic mission house for Cameroon’) where he obtained good marks except in Latin.1 He made his first profession in October 1904.


From October 1906 to November 1907 he was called up for military service and finally at age 32 he 'reached ordination with great pains and on 8 July 1910' and left for Cameroon working mostly in Ikassa.2 Five years later Germany lost its Cameroon provinces and he returned to Schönstatt as spiritual advisor for the students.


He and Fr. Albert Scherzinger became the first Pallottines to be sent to Australia since the outbreak of World War I. The Pallottine staff in the Kimberley had become so thin on the ground that since the death of Fr. Bachmair in 1918, Fr. Droste was the only Pallottine priest left to oversee Beagle Bay and Lombadina. Their visa applications became subject to extensive scrutiny and were held up until January 1925 – when they finally reached Broome they were greeted with a spontaneous triumphal welcome’.3 Fr. Püsken was sent to Lombadina until 1929 and became a Protector of Aborigines in 1927.


With the arrival of Fr. Raible as apostolic administrator of the Kimberley Vicariate in May 1928, the Pallottines embarked on a new period of expansion. Fr. Püsken recruited the much respected Br. Frank Nissl whom he knew from Vallendar.4 Fr. Droste left for Germany in May 1929 and Fr. Püsken became superintendent of Beagle Bay until 1937. Br. Wollseifer, one of the first Pallottines at Beagle Bay since 1903, became dissatisfied with the ‘new regime’ and left for Germany, but returned after a year.


Fr. Pusken with children Fr Pusken

Fr. Püsken with children at Beagle Bay, ca.1954.

Source: Pallottis Werk 1954/4.

Fr. Püsken, ca. 1954.

Source: Pallottis Werk 1954/4.


According to Nailon Fr. Püsken was in Europe in 1950 and was expected to return to Tardun.5 However the Tardun Chronicle does not mention him.


Fr. Püsken later worked at Balgo where his health suffered from the extreme heat and by his 75th birthday he was quite feeble.6 He remained at Beagle Bay until his death in 1955. The Limburg Provincial wrote to his sister-in-law Helena Püsken in Werpeloh, ‘er ist sicher gut oben angekommen’ (I’m sure he arrived well up there).7



Fr. Pusken, Br Graf, Fr. Hugel, Br Krallmann, Br. Schüngel Grave of Fr. Pusken

Br. John Graf, Fr. Francis Hügel, Fr. Benedict Püsken, Br. Henry Krallmann, Br. Josef Schüngel

Source: Sr Brigida Nailon and Fr. Francis Huegel,
This is your Place – Beagle Bay Mission
, Pallottine Centre, Broome, 1990, p. 19.

Beagle Bay Cemetery in 2000.

Source: Roberta Cowan, Rossmoyne.


1 Zeugnis des Katholischen Missionshauses für Kamerun im Schuljahr 1901/02, Püsken, Benedikt, P (1878-1955) P.1-31, ZAPP.

2 Obituary in Pallottis Werk 1956/1.

3 Pallottine Necrology, ‘Scherzinger’, MS of the Pallottine Centre, Rossmoyne.

4 Bleischwitz Geschichte ZAPP.

5 Sr Brigida Nailon CSB Nothing is wasted in the household of God – Vincent Pallotti’s Vision in Australia 1901-2001, Richmond: Spectrum 2001:164.

6 Z Margaret Zucker From Patrons to Partners, A history of the Catholic church in the Kimberley, Broome, University of Notre Dame Press, 1994:130.

7 Vizeprovinzial to Helena Püsken, November 1955, in Püsken, Benedikt, P (1878-1955) P.1-31, ZAPP.