Fr Karl Steffens was born on 1 April 1936 in Saarburg, Germany. He grew up there, and went to school in the town. On completing his secondary education, he entered the Society of Jesus (West German Province) on 19 April 1955 at Eringerfeld, Germany. After his novitiate he studied philosophy in Pullach, spent two years regency in Buren and then went to Frankfurt for theology. He was ordained to the priesthood in Frankfurt on 28 August 1965.
In 1967 he sailed for Africa and spent some months at Canisius House studying Shona and was then appointed to Chitsungo. He did his tertianship at Mazoe in 1969 and made his final profession on 8 December 1978. He spent thirty years in pastoral work in Sinoia Mission, much of it during the difficult war years: Chitsungo (1968-69), Marymount (1969-82), Centenary (1979-1980), Chitsungo (1982-1986), St Boniface (1987-2001). He was then appointed superior of St Paul’s Mission in Musami (2001-2010) before returning to Chinhoyi and Banket in 2010.
His work entailed a lot of travelling, mostly done on a powerful motorbike which was his pride and joy. He also learnt to fly and obtained a pilot’s licence which enabled him to fly in and out of Marymount during the war.
In 2018, he had trouble with his leg and came to Richartz House. The leg did not respond to treatment and had to be amputated. Karl was out of hospital after three days and made a good recovery. He went to Germany, where he was fitted with an artificial leg, and provided with a wheelchair. He returned to Richartz House in 2019. He found the leg cumbersome, but the wheel chair was a different matter. He manoeuvred it with some dexterity, and in the corridors could build up quite a turn of speed! In 2020 he began to have difficulty in eating. He was found to have an inoperable growth in the oesophagus and this led to his death on 22 October 2020.
May his soul rest in peace.