poppy image   We met Father Gruber again in January 1992  poppy image
at the Danube Swabian colony of Entre Rios in Brazil
on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the founding of their agricultural colony.

Wooden cross

We met him for the third time on the occasion of a world-wide conference of Danube Swabians in Budapest in September 1995. It was obvious to us at this time that his health had greatly deteriorated.

When his Eminence the Danube Swabian Bishop Sebastian Kräuter of Temesvar, Romania, visited Toronto some years later I told him about the punishing life Father Gruber willingly endured in such a remote area where even rudimentary medical aid was over 170 km away. It was hard on a man who had passed his 80th birthday. So the bishop had him transferred to Temesvar, Romania where he ministered to the Danube Swabian seniors who had been left behind when over 90% of the German population of Banat sought freedom and opportunity in Germany.

Due to his failing health Father Gruber could no longer carry out his duties as a priest and he was transferred to the Jesuit Old Age home in Zagreb, Croatia.

In June of 2002 I attended the IHR Conference in California. One of the notable speakers was Dr. Tomislav Sunic, a highly respected former Croatian diplomat, who gave a forthright and convincing account of the Danube Swabian genocide in post-war Yugoslavia to prominent historians, authors, journalists and delegates from all over the world. Unfortunately, I was the only Danube Swabian present to help substantiate and lend credence to his one hour dissertation.

Since I had not heard anything from Father Gruber for over two years and Dr. Sunic lives in Zagreb, Croatia I asked him to visit him in the Jesuit Home and inform me about the state of his health. This he did on his return to Zagreb. On August 1st an E-mail from him informed me that he had indeed visited Father Gruber and had conveyed my greetings to him in German. The good Father clearly understood everything but unfortunately could no longer speak. A couple of weeks later I received another E-mail informing me that Father Gruber had died on August 14, 2002 and would be laid to rest in the Mirogo Cemetery in Zagreb on August 19.

Bible, Cross, Lily

Frank Schmidt

Republished with permission of the author.

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