Year of Vocations
Fr. Ian Buckmaster
April 14th was Good Shepherd Sunday. It is traditionally the day that one preaches on Vocations to the Priesthood and Religious Life. This year, it is the start of a full year ofpromoting vocations in Ireland. Many dioceses are regroupingparishes because of the shortages of priests. Many elderly priests continue to work long after retirement age. Many sisters have moved out of large convents and are living in ordinary houses. They provide voluntary services to the local community in areas of care for the sick and elderly, help children who need help with school work as well as the bringing Holy Communion to those who are house bound.
Those who worked in vocation promotion in the past remember the outright hostility or complete indifference in some of our schools. Campaigns such as Men in Black or God calling (on a mobile phone) did not result in a huge upswing in traditional vocations, although they helped to keep vocation promotion work going at a difficult time. Are times changing? I have talked with some people who feel the tide is turning. Thanks to visits made by Presidents Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese to Africa and other parts of the world there is a growing appreciation of the work done by missionaries. It has not resulted in a big increase in traditional vocations but people are becoming more interested in volunteering for work in developing countries either before they settle done and start families or after families have been reared and before it is time to retire from active life.
Lay Missionary organizations such as Viatores Christi or Volunteer Mission Movement do great work in facilitating people who wish to go abroad and put their skills at the service of local communities.
In our own Society we have nearly 300 young(ish) men who are studying to be priests or brothers. On average we have 12-15 new members every year. It is a huge effort and requires lots of investment in personnel. The period of training is complex. It involves leaving your own country, learning new languages, fi tting into different cultures as well as studying Philosophy, Theology, Spirituality and social sciences often in a foreign language.
It is a long process and it is not surprising that not everybody will fi nd it suitable for themselves.
One always has the hope that God is calling and continues to call people. The response requires people to step aside and put oneself at the service of the Christian community. The idea may come as a vague notion of doing good and helping people. This will require continuous refi nement as the person follows the process of discernment combined with a solid grounding in areas of Spirituality, Theology and Philosophy. Many of the more recent vocations are men and women who are well educated, have considerable work experience, who have travelled a lot and who now wish to do something for God. Is it the way forward? I do not know. I do feel that we need to pray for guidance in helping people discern Gods call in their lives. Please support them by your prayers or by participating in any activity that will help to promote vocations in your parish or Diocese.
Novena to St. Anthony
Because we are convinced of the power of prayer and the powerful intercession of St. Anthony, we invite you to join us in nine days of prayer.
Please write down your intentions, place them in the enclosed envelope and return to us as soon as possible.
The envelopes are placed on the altar during the novena and burned unread at the end. Please do not place any money in the small envelope.
Each day during the Novena we shall be offering Holy Mass for all your intentions.
We shall have a particular remembrance of all those doing exams at this time.
St. Anthony was a great friend of the poor and all those in need. He even risked his life by going to Morocco as a missionary, because he wanted to help the poor.
He is the patron of our Bursary Fund for the training of missionaries.
This spring and summer we celebrate the Golden Jubilee of 2 members of the Irish Province.We thank God for their many years of devoted service to the Society.
Bro. Ray Leggett: Bro Ray is from Bray, Co. Wicklow. He was born in 1935 and after school and a number of years working in Bray; he joined the White Fathers in 1955. He took his 1st missionary oath on the 14th February 1958. At the time Ireland was part of the British province and there was a good deal of construction and renovation of houses. Ray worked on our student house in Totteridge, north London and then on the newly acquired house in Templeogue. This house was a hostel for student priests from Africa and from our own society who were sent to Dublin to study in UCD and other educational establishments.
In 1964, Ray took his perpetual oath and was appointed to Ghana. He worked for many years there and worked notably in administration as diocesan bursar. He had to come home in 1987 because of a serious illness. When he had recovered, he received training at the Alexian Brothers Nursing Home in Warrenpoint with a view to looking after the elderly colleagues. He joined the community in Rutherglen, Glasgow and has cared for the elderly residents there since that time. For more intranet (Missionaries of Africa only)
Fr. Tom Bradley: Tom was born in Newry, Co. Down in 1931. After school and working for a living, he joined the White Fathers in 1951. He followed the usual course of studies of Philosophy and Theology in England and the Netherlands. He took his perpetual oath in 1957 and was ordained to the priesthood on 7th May 1958 in Cavan Cathedral by the late Bishop Austin Quinn. The society was trying to establish itself in Ireland and Tom was assigned to the Promotion Offi ce in the newly built college in Blacklion, Co. Cavan. He travelled the length and breath of Ireland visiting schools and showing fi lms on Africa in parish halls. In 1963, he was sent to Rome to study Canon Law. He was appointed to Tanzania in 1966 and worked in Mbeya diocese. He was Secretary to Bishop Sangu fi rst African Bishop of the Diocese. It was work that involved a lot of travel and he represented the Bishop at many meetings. In 1970 he was appointed back to Ireland to work in the promotion offi ce of the new Irish province. He has worked in the Province as Superior of the Promotion Offi ce in Longford and as Superior in Templeogue. He was appointed Provincial Treasurer in 1988 and worked in that demanding role
for nearly 10 years. Tom continues to work in the promotion offi ce and deals with the extensive correspondence that passes through it.
Sr. Winnie Henderson, W.S
Here is her refl ection on her 50 years of Missionary Service:
Just to say Thank You
is a prayer
says Meister Eckhart, a Dominican mystic.
Jubilees and special celebrations give us space to remember and to experience anew Gods presence with a new intensity. We hope to celebrate, too, a new awakening of the soul. Sr Winnie Henderson celebrated her Golden Jubilee recently and shares now her personal thank you and prayer.
This anniversary and this entire Jubilee Year, is first and foremost for me a call to thanksgiving, celebration and remembering. I thank my God for life, for my parents and siblings and for my extended family...
For my being sent to Africa, for the blessing of being allowed to remain for many years, with all the joys and pain entailed...the wonderful colleagues and friends... the companionship and support of my Sisters... in sickness and in health.
In particular, I thank God for the many years I experienced working with and among the poorest of the poor in Kibera slum on the outskirts of Nairobi... the joys of forging friendships, building communities from scratch, in the mud and in the dust...sharing the peoples sorrows, joys and frustrations.
This particular phase of my active missionary life remains as a seal upon my heart for it was then that I experienced in a special way what it means, not only to evangelise but to BE EVANGELISED by the poorest, the most needy and vulnerable. It is that experience that touches me now in my later years, when my own vulnerability becomes more and more evident...felt in my body and my mind, and living among aging people who share these same limitations. Jean Vanier says in his book: The Broken Body published by Darton
Longman and Todd 1988 at some moment we can be overtaken by the discovery of our own terrible brokenness, hidden under our capacity to do things, hidden under our knowledge and intelligence, hidden
under our casualness, security and good humour, hidden even under our works of piety and times of prayer... BUT..our brokenness is the wound through which the full power of God can penetrate our being and transfigure us in him.
A Jubilee Year is, when we celebrate that Mystery of Life-Death-Life which we have lived and continue to
live at deepening levels, in our amazing relationship with our God. MAGNIFICAT.
Sr. Winnie Henderson, W.S
Sr. Winnie was training as a nurse in Liverpool when she met the White sisters at a meeting of the Catholic Nurses Guild. The sisters put on a slide show featuring their work with the lepers in Mua, Malawi. She says she was blown away by their presentation and after mature refl ection joined up.
She worked in England before going to Uganda. She was involved in teaching at all levels before she was expelled by the Government of Idi Amin in 1975. She then started work in Nairobi. She worked in the slum areas building up the small Christian Communities. It was inevitable that this would lead to involvement in HIV/Aids awareness work. For the last 5 years of her stay in Nairobi she was a counselor in the well known Amani Centre in Nairobi. Since 2003 she is in a Retirement Village in Surrey with 2 other White sisters. They work in the area of bereavement counselling as well as the pastoral care of the residents.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
A recent article in the White Fathers/White Sisters magazine, the publication of our colleagues in Britain, highlighted the Golden jubilee of Sr. Winnie Henderson, an Irish White Sister from Strabane in Co. Tyrone. The White Sisters never established a house in Ireland and so are not well known here. In fact there were only 7 Irish born White Sisters but of course many others of Irish parentage who joined in England or Scotland. So
does anybody know anything about the following?
Sr. Bridget Irvine (1909-1998) from Malin, Co. Donegal
Sr. Alice Lynch (1911-1996) from Newry, Co. Down
Sr. Patricia Mary Burns (1909-1998) from Union Hall, Co. Cork
Sr. Sheila Ryan (1909-2003) from Cahiriciveen Co. Kerry
Including Sr Winnie Henderson there are 3 Irish White Sisters still alive. Sr. Rose Ellen Lamph from Cladybeg in Co. Armagh is in poor health, but Sr. Clare Honan from Landscape House in Cork was recently home on a visit.
In the 1990s we were doing Mission appeals in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin. After Mass in Newbridge, I was standing outside the church with a bucket in my hand collecting the offerings of the faithful when a gentleman of military bearing approached me and pressed a £5 note into my hand. He confessed that he had borrowed a pound of butter from one of our missions in the Congo when he was there as a peacekeeper in the 1960s. He now felt that he had repaid the debt. It set me thinking of the role the Army has played as peacekeepers around the world. There was the novelty of the fi rst group of Army officers who went to the Middle East in 1958 to help supervise the peace accord there. There was great excitement when a much larger contingent of men was sent to the Congo as peace keepers in the 1960s and we still remember the tragedy of Niemba. So for 50 years plus the Army has been involved in peace keeping operations mainly in Africa, Middle East, The Indian sub continent and East Timor.
The departure of another group to Chad reminds us again of the difficulties that face these soldiers. The conflict in Darfur in Sudan has spilled over into Eastern Chad and has resulted in a great deal of political instability and an almost complete absence of security for the local people. According to the Army website, the Irish will be based in Goz Beida, about 90 kms from the Sudanese border. They will have as their mission to protect refugees and internally displaced people from the attacks of the Jangjaweed, a terrorist group supported by the Sudanese government, who attack from across the border. They will also have the task of protecting the humanitarian organizations who are trying to bring aid and relief to the area.
Chad is an enormous country of 495,000+ sq miles or 15 times the size of Ireland. It has a population of approximately 9 million but it is diffi cult to get reliable statistics. About 54% are Muslim and 33% are Christian with the rest following African Traditional Religions. There are 7 Catholic dioceses. They are all located in the south and west. The south and west have most of the agricultural activity with raw cotton being an important crop. Oil is a recent discovery and there is no doubt that the big demand for oil at the present time is a contributing factor to the situation today.
The East and North are very arid and nomadic pastoralism is the principle activity. The Irish will be based in the South Eastern part of the country where Islam has been well established for a number of centuries. The form of Islam is known as Sufi sm and is completely integrated into local culture. It has been disturbed by more militant forms of Islamic fundamentalism in recent years. A Catholic church was burned down in Abeche in 2003. Abeche is the principle town in the area and is a place of pilgrimage for Muslims. Any Christian proselytizing is viewed on with suspicion and can create tensions.
The troops are facing a very difficult task. It will mean coming to terms with a culture that is long established and well integrated but is now suffering from the overspill of violence from neighbouring Darfur. This creates a lot of tensions in the local societies as they try to integrate many displaced people both from inside Chad and from Darfur.I would ask you to keep them in your prayers while they carry out this delicate mission.
Blessed are the peacemakers, they shall be called children of God
Photos from Missionaries of Africa Photo Service, Namur, Belgium
New European Province :
Allow me to introduce to you the New Provincial of Europe of the Society of the Missionaries of Africa.
He is Fr. Detlef Bartsch from Germany. He was born in 1943 and after leaving school, he studied Philosophy in Germany, before going to the U.S.A. for novitiate and then to Canada to study Theology. He was ordained in 1969 in Saarbrucken, Germany. He returned for another year to Canada to fi nish his studies and in 1970 he set off for Rwanda. This country has been the main area of his missionary activity but he did spend two periods in Germany on Missionary and Vocation work. After the terrible events in Rwanda in 1994 he found himself working in refugees camps in Tanzania. He retuned to Rwanda in 1997 and besides working in a parish, he was involved in vocation work. He was elected Provincial of Germany in 2003 and was worked closely on the project of creating the new European Province. He takes up office on 1st July. He will live in Brussels with the new provincial team.
The new Province will comprise the old provinces of France, Germany and Luxembourg, Belgium, The Netherlands, Great Britain, Spain, Italy and Ireland. It will also include the sectors of Switzerland and Poland. There are nearly 1,200 members of the province with an average age of 74 years.
Here in Ireland we will continue with our main work of promoting the missions by visiting a diocese each year, by publishing our newsletter and asking for your support to care for our elderly confreres and to educate our students. We will continue to provide a home for members of our Society who are doing further studies in Ireland. We will also continue to look for Mass stipend for priests in Africa for both members of our society and diocesan priests. This has been an invaluable source of support for our members and we should thank the many priests in this country who support us in this way
Obviously, there will be a lot of autonomy in the new sectors given the differences in each country in areas of finance, social welfare and health care. The main difference will be representation at the Chapter of the Society which meets every 6 years. Each chapter elects a new Superior General and decides on policy for the next 6 years. It is hoped that this new policy will keep us focused on Africa while keeping in mind the care and welfare of the members in Europe. It is an act of faith in the future of the Society.
MISSIONARIES OF AFRICA (White Fathers),
Draw Results 2008
1st Prize: € 1,000 Francis Lynch,
Portauns, Kilmallock, Co. Limerick
Mrs. J. Lynch (Raffle Seller € 100,)
2nd Prize: € 500 Bernadette Ryan,
Castletown, Navan, Co. Math
Kathleen Ryan (Raffle Seller; € 100)
3rd Prize; € 250 Bridie Murphy,
St. Josephfs, Bawnogues, Baltinglass, Co. Wicklow
Bridie Murphy, (Raffle Seller; € 100)
We are sincerely grateful to all who contributed
to the Raffl e. We are well aware of the numerous
collections and appeals that face you every day.
We are grateful for your concern for our elderly
May the Lord bless you and reward you
for your generosity.
Mission boxes are a valuable
source of income for our missionary projects.
Small money can be big money
for the needs of the poor the orphan the sick
and the education of priests.
If you are willing to have a mission box
in your home, school or business
we would greatly appreciate your support.
Mission boxes will be supplied
and when full, collected by one of our priests.
Please Contact; Fr. Joe McMenamin.
Missionaries of Africa, Cypress Grove,
Templeogue, Dublin 6W.
Please Pray for our Friends who have Died
Mrs. Kathleen Cassidy, Armagh Road, Newry, Co. Down
Mrs. Kathleen McKane, Ballygillaheen, Rosenallis, Co.Laois
Fr. Michael ODonoghue, Coolderry, Brosna, Co.Offaly
Mr. John McLaughlin, Pier Rd., Rathmullan, Co Donegal
Mr. John Palmer, Shruffanagh, Dowra, Co.Cavan
Mr. Seamus Keating, Cypress Downs, Templeogue, Dublin 6W
Mr. Michael (Ciss) Doherty, Claggan, Clonmany, Co.Donegal
Mrs. Peg. OConnor, Millview, Kanturk, Co.Cork
Mr. Sean Finucane, Bruree, Co. Limerick
Mrs. Angela Deely, Tarmonbarry, Longford P.O.
Mr. Carter, Keane St. Killalee, Co.Limerick
Mr. Eoghan Kelly, Celbridge and Dunboyne
Mr. Conor Kennedy, Two-Mile-Borris, Co. Tipperary
Jim & Denis Maher, Baltreacy, Co.Kildare
Mr. Thomas Carter, Killalee, Limerick
Mrs. Maeve McDonagh,Ardarra, Portroe, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary
Mr. Hugh James Martin,Derrybrick, Derrylin, Co. Fermanagh
Mrs. Rose Ann Martin, Derrybrick, Derrylin, Co. Fermanagh
Mrs. Nancy Curtin, King St., Mitchelstown, Co. Cork
Sr. Mary Evangelist Jolley, Convent of Mercy, Dundalk, Co.Louth
Miss Annie Gibbons, Glenarm Road, Larne, Co.Antrim
Mr. Walsh, Barnscourt Road, Carryduff, Co.Down
Mr. Thady ORegan, Assumption Place, Clonakilty, Co. Cork
Sr. Columba Ward, Sisters of Mercy, Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo
Mr. William Hennigan, Manch Bridge, Ballineen, Co. Cork
Mrs. Maureen Rosemond, Arva, Co. Cavan
Mr. John Owens, Corranewey, Maguiresbridge, Co. Fermanagh
Mrs. Kathleen Henry, Main Street, Crumlin, Co. Antrim
Sr. Teresa McEntee, Mercy Sisters, Newtownforbes, Co. Longford
Mr. Gabriel Griffin, Templeogue, Dublin
Mr. David Rainey, Royston, England
Sister Maire de Barra, Convent of Mercy, Birr, Co.Offaly
Sr. Eilis Valkenburg, St. Louis Sisters, Kilkeel, Co.Down
Mr. Gordon Campbell, Willow Way, Bletchley, Milton Keynes, England
Mr.Thomas Mannion, Moylough, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway
Mr. John OSullivan, Reenascreena, Rosscarbery, Co.Cork
Mr. Daniel Fitzpatrick, Clonakilty, Co. Cork
Mr. Frank Kingston, Templebrien, Clonakilty, Co. Cork
Mr. Gerry Bracken, Westport, Co. Mayo
Mr. Tom ORiordain, Cypress Drive, Dublin 6w
Mrs. Stella Lynch, Abbeyleix, Co. Laois
Mr. Frank McGovern, Glangevlin, Co. Cavan
Mrs. Patsy Capocci, North Road, Belvedere, Kent, England
Mr. John Vincent Martin, Lurgan, Co. Armagh
Mr. Joseph Harrity, Portadown (Father of Fr. Patrick Harrity M.Afr.)
Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.
May they rest in peace with the Father
PLEASE REMEMBER THE MISSIONS IN YOUR WILL
Our legal name is Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers).
A suitable formula is:
I give to the Society of Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers) the sum off €........... free of
duty. And I declare that the Provincial of the Society who now resides at Cypress Grove,
Templeogue, Dublin 6W shall be in good discharge.
Carry on the good work you have been doing during your life by helping to spread the
Gospel after you have gone to the Father.