Some 35 members of the Dutch Region of the Mill Hill Missionaries were gathered in Assembly in Helvoirt from 11 – 13 Septeber 2017.
Regional Representative Martien van Leeuwen had a special word of welcome for the visitors from the General Council, the councillors Andrew Mukulu Director for Africa and Jimmy Lindero Director for Asia.
After some intorductory remarks he proceeded to focus in on the Dutch region and touched on the following subjects, which he welcomed to be further subject of discussion.
- multiple Parish Responsibility: Some points
- Tremendous shortage and availability of priests in the Netherlands.
- Some members in their 80’s are running three or more parishes and then told they are given another parish to run with the others.
- Sometimes it’s more for administrative reasons and not unduly increasing work other than a signature.
- The bottom line is that many priests run more than one parish at the same time and the number is increasing as well as their age.
- The question or concern is how can we “protect” our missionaries from an overload of work? The multiplicity in some cases is more a legal issue than pastoral
- Mission to Europe/America (the West): some important points
- Chapter Documentation refers about Mission to the West in terms of migrants.
- Many of those going to Church today in the Netherlands are in fact migrants
- There is a need for mission to our own Dutch people. Especially mission to the young people.
Martien’s personal view is that we should study the possibility of reaching out to the youth.
- You will not see or meet them in a church building. Pope Francis tells us to go out to the sheep, dirty yourself, smell like the sheep.
- You could develop this into practical ways and suggest that you should go to the disco, the pub, the factory, the market places or the commune where you do find youth.
His view is that we should
- not send mhm’s to existing parishes for a sort of maintenance work where you find mainly elderly people and only a few youngsters.
- Question is; are our young members trained or prepared to go out to the youth in The Netherlands, or anywhere in The West without a structured plan.
- Where do you start from and what is the ultimate goal?
- We talk about re-evangelisation, where one can also speak about evangelisation.
- Most of the youth know nothing or very little about the gospel of good news. For them it is history!
Many of these things are on-going. In practical terms where do we stand today?
- In the Netherlands, attitudes have changed and many members are quite favourable towards mission to the West. The Regional takes it very seriously. If we do it, then we must do it in a loving and welcoming manner, and members coming to the Region must feel that they are wanted.
- The kind of mission to migrants that some of our members do already is very good, but mission to the Dutch is also important: there is large scope for primary evangelization or re-evangelization.
- The Regional is in touch with Herman Schaepman and John van de Laar, who both have very friendly attitudes towards Mill Hill. The Spiritan Fathers in Holland have a number of African members. A conversation has started and can be continued.
- Members coming into the Region would have to learn the Dutch language. They would need some input on Dutch culture. The Dutch Region has clearly thought deeply about the issue. The criteria they mention have been applied to European missionaries for ages already.
Mission to the West is not just a matter of keeping things ticking over, filling gaps. If we are engaged, then we must bring something new and particular to the local Church, a Mill Hill way of doing things.