Wesely, Raimond Br. (1879-)

Prepared by: 
Regina Ganter
Birth / Death: 

born 31 August 1879, Lobendau, Leitmaritz

Br. Wesely was caught up in the staff disputes during the establishment of Beagle Bay mission and left the Pallottines in 1906.


Raimond was one of six children of master saddler Josef Wesely and Theresa née Thunig in Lobendau. There is no explanation for his unusual, almost Anglophone name, and sometimes he was referred to as Br. Vassili. He was raised as a Catholic, attended eight years of Volksschule in Lobendau and then three years of vocational schooling (Fortbildungsschule) to become a saddler. From August 1898 to April 1900 he worked in a transport company (Spedition August Peters) in Münster and then, with parental permission, joined the Pallottine Society in Limburg at age 20. He received his habit in 1900 and made his first profession in 1902.1


He was recruited to the Kimberley mission by Fr. Walter, together with Brothers Wollseifer and Labonte, arriving around March 1903. A fire had destroyed some mission buildings, and Fr. White had moved to Broome and was getting a new house built there. The livestock consisted about 2,000 head of cattle, between 30 and 40 horses, 40 pigs and a small goatherd. Br. Wesely found it a difficult assignment, ‘even more taxing than the novitiate’ and the heat especially gave him trouble:


We rise in the morning at 5 for prayer, then half hour contemplation, then mass, then the work until midday, then free till half past two because of the midday sun, which burns sorely. One is and gets very tired from the work during the day because the sun has a strong effect on the body.’2


He asked about the need to wear the habit. He said it was fine at night and early in the morning, but during the day he was only carrying his around in a bag. He asked to be sent some well-known contemplative books and a copy of the rules.


He also inquired about his eternal profession, which was due. Brothers Graf and Sixt were due for eternal profession ‘in the autumn’. He asked whether the padres in the Kimberley were authorized to deal with this question or not. The mission lugger carrying this letter was smashed on a rock on the way to Broome.


Natural disasters and the constant heat, and disputes with Fr. Walter, who did not have the confidence of the Brothers, nor did he have confidence in them, made the early years of Beagle Bay mission unbearably difficult. Br. Graf was reluctantly professed in October 1903, but Sixt was refused and later expelled, while Wesely was sent home, where the General Superior in Rome declared that there was no alternative posting for him, neither in Rome, nor in Limburg, nor in any Pallottine house.

Wesely had gone to see his family before presenting himself to his superiors and had written a letter asking not to be sent to Limburg, and he now saw all doors close before him.3 He pleaded for a posting and received no further written replies. He spent a period in the Pallottine house at Rocca Priora (Italy), was expelled in 1906 and migrated to America in 1907 where he worked as sexton for the Franciscan Fathers for a year, and then as a hospital attendant.


He visited Germany in 1910, when he met Fr. Timpe “to whom I have spoken unreserved of the feelings and treatments I have received from the hand of the then Superior of that Mission” [Beagle Bay].4 (Fr. Timpe later became a leading figure in the Raphaelsverein, reaching out to Germans abroad during the late 1920s and 1930s.) On his return to the USA he settled in Sacramento, California, where he married, and had a daughter in 1919. He contacted the Pallottines again in 1930, still a devout Catholic and now working as an upholsterer for the railways, to beg them to send a German-speaking priest to the large German-speaking migrant community in Sacramento, dominated by the Franciscans who refused to hold service in German.




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1 Antonia Leugers Eine geistliche Unternehmensgeschichte – Die Limburger Pallottiner-Provinz 1892-1932, St. Ottilien EOS Verlag 2004:543.

2 Wesely to Novicemaster [Kolb] in Limburg, n.d., his first letter from Australia, around mid-1903, re-sent with a note on 24 June 1903, in Raimund Wesely, Br. Ex- ZAPP.

3 Wesely in Rome to Provincial in Limburg, 24. 6. 1906, in Raimund Wesely, Br. Ex- ZAPP.

4 Wesely in Sacramento to Rev. Schnitzler PSM, Whitechapel, London, in Raimund Wesely, Br. Ex- ZAPP.