Cameroon, Good Friday

Africa Mission

An overview

Cameroon

 

In 1914 the German colony of Kamerun fell to the combined forces of Britain and its allies. All of the defeated power’s west-African conscripts were interned on the island of Fernando Po, and with them the German Pallottine missionaries. Fernando Po became, for the duration of the war, an extraordinary school for catechists. When the Mill Hill Missionaries arrived in 1922, they found flourishing Christian communities and an army of former soldiers preaching the Gospel far and wide.

In the years up to and beyond the Second World War the Mill Hill priests and Sisters forged ahead with a programme of expansion and development; schools were opened in every mission-station, catechists were instructed and a project of teacher-training began. Mill Hill Brothers arrived to build and maintain mission-stations and to pass on their skills to young Cameroonians. The welfare of the wider Catholic community was enhanced through the creation of credit unions and cooperatives.

By the time of the Vatican Council a number of Cameroonians had been ordained to the priesthood, and the participation of lay people in the affairs of the Church was being promoted through parish councils, women’s associations and the development of a Catholic press. The diocese that had flourished under Mill Hill leadership eventually became three, each headed by a Cameroonian bishop; and, having seen the local Church come of age, Mill Hillers would go on serving it for another half-century and more.

The Society's long history of evangelization and cooperation with the energetic Cameroonian Church continues today through the work of a modest international band of both veteran and more recently commissioned Mill Hillers.

A project of primary evangelization is under way, principally in the remote and neglected area surrounding the notoriously explosive Lake Nyos in the country's north­west. There the missionary priority is to establish Small Christian Communities capable of sustaining the people's new and vulnerable faith. The lives of the region's most deprived villagers are being re-energised through access to elementary education, the establishment of basic health centres, the provision of running water and training in market gardening. A central element in these and other development projects is the instruction and empowerment of women.

Elsewhere in the north-west and south-west provinces Mill Hillers are involved in a variety of missionary and pastoral tasks. Prominent among these is the study of indigenous cultures and of possibilities for the inculturation of the Christian message. Mill Hill men continue to serve in parish ministry in the diocese of Buea, where members of the Society first set foot in the 1920s, as well as in the grassland diocese of Bamenda. Mill Hill Brothers, alongside their pastoral activities, carry on the age-old task of keeping the missionaries' vehicles on the road.

As in other traditional Mill Hill mission-fields, the Society's doors are open to local men attracted to the missionary life. Cameroonian members serve in missions out­side their own country after their years of formation at home and abroad. Academically qualified Mill Hillers also support the local Church by lecturing in the regional seminary. An association of enthusiastic lay people, the Friends of Mill Hill, collaborate in the promotion of local missionary vocations and in the support of indigenous Mill Hillers.

 

Society Leadership

 

  Richard Njoroge Githang'a

Society Representative

Richard Njoroge
St Joseph’s Formation Centre
Foncha Street
PO Box 5058 Nkwen-Bamenda
NW Region, Cameroon

+237 67204 0788
njororiccardo@gmail.com

 

 

Consultors

 

Mill Hill House

Bamenda: Rector

           Nol Verhoeven

Nol Verhoeven
Mill Hill House
Foncha Street
PO Box 5058 Nkwen-Bamenda
NW Region, Cameroon

+237 67429 9257
father_nol@yahoo.com
or
verhoevennol@gmail.com

 

Formation Centre

Bamenda: Rector Formator

   Richard Njoroge

Richard Njoroge Githang'a
St Joseph’s Formation Centre
Foncha Street
PO Box 5058 Nkwen-Bamenda
NW Region, Cameroon

+237 67204 0788
njororiccardo@gmail.com

 

Vocations Director & MEP Coordinator

       Elvis Shudzeka

Elvis Shudzeka Berka
St Joseph’s Formation Centre
Foncha Street
PO Box 5058 Nkwen-Bamenda
NW Region, Cameroon

+237 67357 2205
+327 66947 4928
mhmvocationcam@gmail.com

Congo (DRC)

 

In 1905 the Belgian King Leopold II invited the Mill Hill society to send some of its men to work in the so-called Congo Free State, his personal domain in Africa. His hope was that Catholic missionaries from Britain would help to undo the damage inflicted on his international reputation through the reports of atrocities circulated by British Protestant missionaries. After several days journey up the Congo River and along one of its tributaries, the Mill Hillers reached their destination at Basankusu.

The hazards of travel by canoe and of life in tropical rain forest had an immediate impact; some pioneers died of fever, others by drowning. The men who followed them carried on their painstaking

effort to win the trust of the indigenous people and gather them into secure Christian settlements.

For half a century and more the missionaries were able to persevere in relative peace, until the end of Belgian rule gave way to political upheaval. During the uprising against the new independent government in the 1960s, a number of Mill Hillers were among the foreign missionaries killed by the rebels. Throughout the next fifty years of never-ending political crisis and socio-economic collapse, Mill Hill priests, Brothers and Lay Associates, fewer and fewer in number, remained among their people – sharing their insecurity and deprivation, reinforcing their faith, teaching the young, ministering to the sick and preparing priests for the future.

A courageous remnant of Mill Hill priests, supported by a lay Associate, has persevered in the Society’s commitment to the rain-forest people of this long-suffering country. Like the local inhabitants the Mill Hillers have learned to cope with a lack of basic infrastructure and utilities such as electricity and running water. A long history of colonial exploitation and civil war has deprived the people of even the most basic educational necessities and of elementary healthcare. In the midst of poverty and insecurity, the missionaries work with the local Church in the diocese of Basankusu to deepen people’s understanding of the Gospel and Christian life by the means of small Christian communities, and to foster the celebration of the Eucharist in a vibrant indigenous style.

Efforts are made to generate an outgoing missionary spirit among the baptised, along with a spirit of respect towards the beliefs and practices of traditional religions and Pentecostal sects. Mill Hillers also contribute to the life of the Church by teaching theology at the regional seminary. At the same time a formation programme is conducted for a small number of candidates for membership in the Society. Congolese Mill Hillers have already been serving for some years in the Society’s missions.

 

 

Society Leadership

   Stanislaus Bondoko

Contact Person

Stanislaus Bondoko
Mill Hill Centre Basankusu (COR)
c/o Procure Sainte Anne
PO Box 1800 Kinshasa DRC

+243 990 071 511
+243 821 467 123
stanislausbondoko@gmail.com

 

Basic Formation Centre

Basankusu: Rector

Stanislaus Bondoko
Mill Hill Centre Basankusu (COR)
c/o Procure Sainte Anne
PO Box 1800 Kinshasa DRC

+243 990 071 511
+243 821 467 123
stanislausbondoko@gmail.com

Kenya

 

The Upper Nile mission-field assigned to the Society in 1895 stretched from Uganda into present-day Kenya. Thirty years on, the territory in western Kenya became a separate mission area. Under Mill Hill bishops, the number of mission stations and schools multiplied in various tribal areas, and in the period following the Second World War the energy of more than a hundred Mill Hillers was invested in the work of evangelisation, education and the formation of priests. The task of educating girls and addressing the medical needs of the population fell to the Mill Hill Sisters and other religious congregations. In the work of primary evangelisation and community-building the missionaries relied totally on the talents and dedication of hundreds of catechists.

In 1959 the authorities in Rome appealed to the Mill Hill society to undertake a mission in the territory occupied by the nomadic Maasai people. A rich missionary harvest of the kind experienced elsewhere in western Kenya was a forlorn hope among this proud and conservative tribe. There, the cultivation of friendship, and the study and preservation of a vulnerable ancient culture became strong features of the Mill Hill presence. New ground was broken also in later years when Mill Hill priests, Brothers and lay Associates formed apostolic teams to live and work among poor and marginalised inhabitants of shanty areas and began learning the art of the urban apostolate. Eight flourishing Kenyan dioceses now occupy the territory into which the Mill Hill Missionaries ventured more than a century ago.

In Kenya the Mill Hill ministry of primary evangelization is being carried on principally on the eastern Coast province, in the diocese of Malindi. The largely Muslim population of the coast \ means that the work goes on in tandem with the building of cordial relationships and the inter-religious'dialogue of life'.

Further inland, in the lakeside town of Kisumu, a traditional Mill Hill centre, a creative urban apostolate has taken shape. The programme includes opportunities for formal and informal education, a community-based healthcare project and a centre for the rehabilitation of street children. The art school, started by a Mill Hiller and a Notre Dame Sister, has equipped its graduates with the skills to become art teachers and to find employment as designers, printers and commercial artists.

In a slum area of Nairobi a similar urban mission has developed that began with the effort to form small Christian communities. Associations have grown up that address the concerns of women, youth interests, the needs of the urban poor and issues of justice and peace. Programmes have been devised to promote AIDS awareness and general good health, and to provide day-care for children with special needs. The psychological and spiritual well-being of individuals and families is served by the provision of guidance and counselling, and leadership courses as well as retreats are offered to encourage the involvement of lay people in the pastoral ministry. The association of the Society's lay supporters, the Friends of Mill Hill, receive missionary animation through their participation in bible-study groups.

In the Mill Hill parish of Luanda, a marhet town in Kenya's Western Province, special attention has been paid to the special needs of hundreds of children with impaired hearing. To restore their sense of personal dignity and to boost their chance of independent living, the young people are offered the chance of primary education, and vocational training for those whose formal education will not continue. The ministry started by a Mill Hiller to reach out to Luanda's street children, many of whom have been orphaned by AIDS, is being continued and developed by the Mill Hill Sisters.

Luanda is also a centre for the basic formation of East African candidates for the missionary priesthood in the Mill Hill Society. From Luanda the candidates progress to Jinja, and finally join one of the Society's international formation houses in India or in Nairobi. In Nairobi, the students live as small groups in a housing colony on the edge of the Kibera slum and attend classes at Tangaza University College. The promotion of the missionary vocation in the areas first evangelised by early Mill Hillers continues to bless the Society with young Kenyan missionaries for its worldwide apostolate.

Society Leadership

     Philip Adede Amek

Regional Representative

Philip Adede Amek
P.O. Box 2011,
40100 Kisumu

+254 726 799 372
+256 775 056237 (Uganda)
socrepkenya.uganda@gmail.com

 

Consultors

Bernard Phelan
Gerard Hastie
Otto Bambokela Mpetsi

Mill Hill Houses

Nairobi: Rector

               Ko Klaver

Ko Klaver
Mill Hill House
Hekima Gardens, off  Ngong Road
PO Box 21734
00505 Nairobi, Kenya

+254 20 2517732
+254 722 317 242
bursar@millhillear.com

 

 

      Patrick Wandera

Nairobi: Administrator

Patrick Wandera
Mill Hill House
Hekima Gardens, Ngong Road

PO Box 21734
00505 Nairobi, Kenya

+254 20 2517732 (Office)
+254 733 292 850
mhmadmin@millhillnrb.net

 

Kisumu: Rector

         Valentin, Alois

Alois Valentin
Mill Hill Missionaries
PO Box 2011
40100 Kisumu

+254 57 202 1548
+254 734 930042
mhmksmhouse@millhillear.com

 

 

Finance Office

Bursar Kenya/Uganda

              Ko KLaver

Ko Klaver
Mill Hill House
Hekima Gardens, off  Ngong Road
PO Box 21734
00505 Nairobi, Kenya

+254 20 2517732 (Office)
+254 722 317 242
bursar@millhillear.com

 

 

Formation Centres

 

    Otto Bambokela

Luanda: Rector

Bambokela, Otto
Mill Hill Formation Centre Luanda
P.O.Box 2193
40100 Kisumu

+ 254 716176040
bambokelamo@yahoo.com 

 

Nairobi: Rector

        Gerry Hastie

Gerry Hastie
St Joseph’s Formation Centre
PO Box 865
00517 Nairobi/  OR
21 Chelsea Marina Court,
Jonathan Ngeno Road, 
Near Uhuru Gardens,
Langata, 00517 Nairobi.  

+254 787 283084
+254 707 906 933
gphastiemhm@gmail.com
mhmformnnbi@gmail.com

Vocations Director (Kenya/Uganda

        Ronald Kajja

Ronald Kajja
Vocations Office
PO Box 2011,  40100 Kisumu

+254 732 458 117
+254 705 819 733
mhmvocationken@yahoo.com

MEP Coordinator  

            

Uganda

 

Herbert Vaughan was already a cardinal when his dream of a Mill Hill mission in Africa was fulfilled. In 1895 the first ‘caravan’ of Mill Hillers landed on the east African coast and began the long trek to their mission field in Uganda. It was the beginning of what would be a long collaborative effort on the part of the Society’s priests and brothers, as well as religious sisters, to evangelise the people of several different language groups, to train catechists and priests, to educate the young and to provide healthcare to all. Under a succession of Mill Hill bishops the Upper Nile mission as it was called grew from strength to strength.

By the end of the Second World War the multiplication of flourishing parishes and institutions demanded that pastoral responsibility should be shared by two bishops, one at Kampala, the other at Tororo. In due course the territory would encompass two more dioceses centred on Jinja and Soroti.

A great interruption in the flourishing of the Uganda mission occurred with the Idi Amin’s coup d’état and reign of terror in which more than fifty Mill Hillers were expelled from the country. Throughout years of insecurity and privation Mill Hill men continued their work of supporting the local Church. The commitment of the Society to the peoples of Uganda was reaffirmed in the 1990s by the acceptance of a new project of primary evangelization in the Kotido district of northern Uganda.

Shortly before the start of the new millennium the Mill Hill Society undertook a fresh project in the new diocese of Kotido, a territory administered by the Comboni Missionaries in northern Uganda, south of the border with Sudan. They found the lives of the Karimojong people in this semi-desert region dominated by a violent internecine struggle for the possession of cattle, the principal means of survival. From a tender age, boys of the different Karimojong clans were trained as armed raiders. The Mill Hillers have encouraged the youth through discussion, and through song, dance and drama, to become agents of non-violence and reconciliation. Recent moves towards disarmament have opened the door to a wider evangelization. Karimojong youth are being initiated into the Church and trained as catechists. The catechumenate includes literacy and numeracy and, among women and girls, lessons in hygiene and childcare. The women's development work initiated by Mill Hill Associates is now increasingly in the hands of local people. The Mill Hill Sisters continue to work in schools, health centres and in other social and pastoral activities. Effective leadership in the community is promoted through the training of facilitators who visit villages and schools to build awareness of health and environmental issues.

In other parts of Uganda, where hundreds of Mill Hill Missionaries have worked in the past, the Society's service to the local Church continues. In the diocese of Lugazi the pastoral ministry goes on expanding through the formation of Basic Christian Communities, while in Kampala and Jinja Mill Hillers are involved in retreat preaching and in the ministry of hospitality.

A major development in recent decades has been the promotion of missionary vocations and the acceptance of Ugandan men as candidates for membership in the Mill Hill Society. After an introductory period of formation in Kenya, Ugandan and Kenyan candidates begin their studies at the Queen of Apostles Philosophy Centre in Jinja, and complete their theological course either in Kenya or in India. Ugandan Mill Hillers are now serving around the Mill Hill world.

Society Leadership

  Philip Adede Amek

Regional Representative

Philip Adede Amek
P.O. Box 2011,
40100 Kisumu

+256 775 056237
+254 726 799 372 (Kenya)
socrepkenya.uganda@gmail.com

 

Consultors

Bernard Phelan
Gerard Hastie
Otto Bambokela Mpetsi

Mill Hill House

Kampala: Rector

     Bernard Phelan

Bernard Phelan
Mill Hill Missionaries
PO Box 22449
Kampala

+256 414 269 169
+256 782338199
mhmkampala@gmail.com
phelanbc@gmail.com

Formation Centre

 

          Wijnand Huijs

Jinja: Rector

Wijnand Huijs
Mill Hill Formation House
PO Box 2130 Jinja
Uganda
+256 784 294 585

 

 

 

 

     Kyemba, George

Jinja: Bursar

George Kyemba
Mill Hill Formation House
PO Box 2130 Jinja


+256 43 412 0542
+256 772 310 311
mhmjinja@iwayafrica.com

 

         Ronald Kajja

Vocations Director

Ronald Kajja
Vocations Office
PO Box 2011, 40100 Kisumu,Kenya              

+254 732 458 117
+254 705 819 773
mhmvocationken@yahoo.com               

South Africa

 

A new Mill Hill outreach in Africa began in the 1990s with the acceptance of an invitation from the bishop of Kroonstad to serve the community in the industrial town of Sasolburg in Free State, the heart of Afrikaner farm country.

In post-apartheid South Africa, Mill Hillers from Europe, other African countries and Asia began to engage in bridge-building pastoral ministry and the formation of Small Christian Communities among racially diverse parishioners in towns and townships. Their area of service has expanded to include ministry to local youth and hospital chaplaincy.

The Society quickly extended its apostolate into the diocese of Rustenburg in North-West Province.

As in Kroonstad, the missionaries' activities include regular pastoral ministry as well as the provision of personal counselling and administrative work in the diocesan pastoral centre

Society Leadership

Society Representative

Ephraim Odhiambo

Ephraim Odhiambo
Visitation of Our Lady
58 Philipp Street (PO Box 752)
Parys 9585 Free State

+27 56 817 6153
+27 63 418 0135

ephraimodhiambo@hotmail.com

 

Consultors

Sylvester Ponje Mbiydzenyuy
Anthony Ndichia

 

MEP Coordinator

John Doran
St Daniel’s Church
Po Box 54 (77 Englebrecht Street)
Viljoenskroon 9520,  Free State

+27 56 343 2011
+27 78 774 5127

South Sudan

 

As part of an effort to block the path, from Ethiopia into Sudan, of Mussolini’s colonial forces, British military authorities demanded that the Italian missionaries in Sudan’s Upper Nile province should be replaced by British counterparts. In 1938 Mill Hillers arrived to take charge of the mission-stations vacated by the Comboni Missionaries and to continue the work of evangelisation and education among the indigenous Shilluk and Nuer tribes. Sudan’s declaration of independence in the mid-1950s was followed by the enactment of a law placing strict limits on any form of missionary activity.

In 1964 hundreds of foreign missionaries, including all the Mill Hillers, were charged with endangering the unity of the nation and expelled from the country. More than a decade after the expulsion, a limited number of Mill Hill priests and Brothers were allowed to return to support the long-suffering Christian community in the diocese of Malakal, and to take up a severely restricted apostolate under the suspicious eye of state security. Sudan’s long history of north-south tension and civil war led eventually to the involvement of Mill Hillers in a challenging ministry to displaced persons in camps around Khartoum and Omdurman and to the painstaking work of community-building and leadership-formation in the most precarious of circumstances.

Mill Hillers returned to Sudan in the 1970s after a ten-year long exclusion enforced by the government. It was not too long before they and their people in the south had to endure a protracted  civil war that lasted into the early years of the 21st century. The southern Christian community survived but in a severely weakened state that improved, however, with the return of refugees from the north and from neighbouring countries. Southerners who had been absorbed into vibrant Christian communities abroad, as well as those who had chosen to identify themselves as Christians in the Islamic north, returned home to form parish communities. Mill Hillers directed their efforts at primary evangelization, the formation of Small Christian Communities and reconciliation between different ethnic groups.

Their commitment to the people of Malakal, said to be the poorest diocese in the world and among the most insecure, was severely tested during the violence that followed quickly on the euphoria aroused in the south by a virtually unanimous vote in favour of independence and the birth of South Sudan, the world’s newest country. The Malakal mission station was caught in crossfire although the badly shaken missionaries escaped with their lives. As the principal city of the oil-producing Upper Nile State, Malakal remained a bone of contention between South Sudan government forces and rebel factions. At the end of 2013, a fresh outbreak of killing and looting – which developed into a de facto civil war -- finally forced the small vulnerable international group of Mill Hillers to seek refuge in the Kenya mission. Peace negotiations allow the Society to hope for a return of its missionaries to Malakal.

Contact Person

                Michael Ochwo

Michael Ochwo