Last Friday 28 June 2019 I invited His Eminence Cardinal Peter Turkson to celebrate the Eucharist at the Rome Procure, to bless the new chapel and the shrine to the Divine Mercy outside in the garden. His positive reply to the invitation was for me an opportunity to promote Mill Hill – and by the way, I also celebrate my 50th anniversary of priesthood. Thus I invited priest friends from various congregations and societies (due to the holidays many could not attend), the dicasteries of the Church (many responded but because of the feast of St. Peter and Paul, were not able to come), as well as Ambassadors to the Holy See. Eight of them came. After the Eucharist and the blessing we had some aperitifs, a word of welcome by me and a buffet luncheon.
In his homily the Cardinal, leading up to congratulate me at the end, focused on the text °I myself will shepherd them”. The Lord is a Shepherd full of compassion and love for his sheep. As pastors we are invited by the Lord to shepherd his flock, and hopefully there is not a moment when the Lord says °leave it, I myself will do it”. He explained what shepherding means in the parables of the lost sheep, the lost drachma, and the prodigal son there are three types of lost sheep: the wounded, the one in search of money, and the one looking for the way to go back.
Welcoming the guests, I thanked them for giving me the opportunity to make Mill Hill known. Cardinal Herbert Vaughan called young people with the moto “AMARE et SERVIRE” to shape Mill Hill Missionary Society. We, Mill Hillers, are the cowboys of the Church, establishing the church in places where there is no church, and eventually handing our work over to the local church.
The red sash we received is a sign of our members to shed their blood for the sake of the Gospel. The heroic deeds of young missionaries going out to Borneo in the realization that they would soon die of malaria, as well as those who died during Japanese occupation in Sabah and during the Congo rebellion, and our Kenyan newly ordained priest who was killed this year in Cameroon, are just some examples of what we are proud of.
Many of our missionaries have contributed to interreligious dialogue, even before the word was invented. Fr. Hans Wijngaards and Jaap Borst did ground-breaking work in India, Kashmir and Jammu. My brief talk I concluded with the presentation of my booklet “ I’m on my way”, in the hope that the reflections will be a welcome guide and encouragement as we face the discouragements that our service to Church bring with it.
The success of this event was shown by the Cardinal who is known to leave soon after the Eucharist, and who stayed on until the end.