Fr Emil Blaser

Pictured above from left to right, Fr Emil Blaser, Cardinal Napier and Sean Lovett at Vatican Radio in Rome.

A Tribute to Fr Emil Blaser OP by Cardinal Wilfrid Napier OFM

It is with deep sadness that we heard the news of the passing of the founder of Radio Veritas, Fr Emil John Blaser OP on 16 November, 2020 after a long illness.

Fr Emil will be sadly missed and deeply mourned by everyone at Radio Veritas. A light has gone out at this radio station, and in the Church in South Africa, which has lost a wonderful and gifted priest.

Cardinal Wilfrid Napier wrote this tribute, which appeared in The Southern Cross on 22 November, 2020.

As a Dominican and a priest, Fr Emil Blaser had a natural bent for communicating the message of the Gospel. He had an excellent radio voice and personality; listeners felt compelled to tune in and listen, again and again!

When the SACBC took the decision to enter the field of broadcasting it was only natural that they should turn to the Dominicans in general and Emil Blaser in particular. His first venture was television, which went very well, but proved to be just too expensive for the small Catholic audience to maintain. Hence the switch to Radio, and the birth of Radio Veritas.

In its early days Radio Veritas was able to cover the entire country. As a result it made a huge impact on Catholic South Africa. Unfortunately that didn’t last and Radio Veritas was limited to broadcasting on Medium Wave only, which severely reduced its listenership.

On the plus side the arrival of the internet opened up new possibilities, which Emil took up immediately, until he suffered a severe breakdown in his health. Fr. Emil brought comfort to many house-bound people until he himself joined them in his later years. Eventually he was forced to give up the love of his life, the broadcast ministry which brought him into the lives of so many people, who had a special place for him in their heart.

During my years of formation in Ireland, it was a living custom for the Dominicans and the Franciscans to regard each other as religious Cousins rather than simple associates. Thus we would celebrate the feast of St Dominic as that of “our Father, Dominic”, to which the Dominicans would reciprocate by celebrating the feast to their “Father Francis”.

With all this in mind that I offer my sincere sympathies in the first place to Emil’s confreres, but I must immediately add those for whom Emil was the purveyor of the “Good News for a Change!. Today I pray that he is the recipient of the best news possible: “Good and faithful servant, come into the kingdom of your Lord!”

Emil rest in peace!

+Wilfrid Cardinal Napier OFM
Archbishop of Durban

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