After much planning and hard work by so many people, Mill Hill Missionaries serving in Cameroon, together with the students in formation, joined with the local clergy, religious and Christians of the North and South West Regions of Cameroon in St Joseph’s Cathedral, Bamenda on Thursday, 2 June 2016, to celebrate Mill Hill’s 150th Anniversary.
At the entrance of the Cathedral there was a big banner proclaiming Mill Hill’s 150th Jubilee and 94 years of loving service in Cameroon. In front of the altar the same words were on display together with the flags of the different countries where the Mill Hill Missionaries work.
The Apostolic Nuncio to Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea His excellency Pierro Pioppo was the main celebrant, Archbishop Cornelius Esua, of Bamenda, Bishops George of Kumbo, Agapitus of Kumba and Andrew Nkea of Mamfe and the Governor of North West Region were also in attendance.
It was such a grand event and celebration the beautiful singing in the liturgy was led by the Mill Hill students and the Choir of Angels from St. John’s Parish, Foncha Street. The Archbishop of Bamenda gave an introduction highlighting the nature of the celebration and invited the Apostolic Nuncio to lead the celebration. In his introduction, the Archbishop thanked God for the gift of the Mill Hill Missionaries and their 150 years of active and loving service to the Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda and to the universal Church at large. The Lectionary procession was done in a silently and solemnly by the Bafmeng Christians of Bayelle Parish.
In his homily the Apostolic Nuncio talked about the early life of Cardinal Vaughan founder of St. Joseph’s Missionary Society, and his motivation of serving those in greatest need of God’s grace. Emphasizing the point that Herbert Vaughan was an instrument of God who had a desire to do something great for God by founding a Missionary group that was to serve in foreign lands and among people of great need with the motto Amare et Servire. He talked of how from a humble beginning in a rented house in London, Mill Hill Missionaries, by the grace of God, have been able to do great things for God and his Church in many countries.
He recalled that the first batch of MHMs, led by Mgr John Campling, arrived in Cameroon in 1922. He thanked the Mill Hill Missionaries for what they have been able to accomplish in the past 150 years particularly 94 years being given to Cameroon. He praised and congratulated our Society for working so closely with the local church and its hierarchy and for the legacy MHM has left of close collaboration with the local clergy and of loving service in the Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda and Ngaoundéré diocese.
He also expressed a strong wish and prayer that Mill Hill with its African and Asian membership may continue to actively live up to the vision of the Founder and to the commitment shown by all the MHMs who have gone before them. He equally expressed a wish and prayer that Mill Missionaries all over the world may experience a new Pentecost.
The liturgy continued with Fr. Richard Njoroge, the Society Representative in Cameroon, accepting the Temporary Oath of eight Mill Hill students. Perpetual members also renewed their Oath and were blessed by the Apostolic Nuncio.
At the end of Mass there were speeches made by the Chair of the Laity Council and by the Archbishop of Bamenda both of whom enumerated the accomplishments achieved by Mill Hill Missionaries in various fields of evangelization especially in pioneering secondary education in the country. They praised and congratulated Mill Hill for all the contributions they have made in the growth of the current vibrant local churches in the Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda.
On behalf of the Society, Fr. Richard Njoroge gave an address in which he gave tribute to the missionaries who worked in Cameroon and to all those who collaborated with them for the past 94 years. He equally thanked the Apostolic Nuncio for accepting the invitation and for leading in the beautiful celebration and for the kind and encouraging words to Mill Hill Missionaries in his homily. He thanked all those who had turned out in large numbers to join MHMs in celebrating the society’s 150th Jubilee. Fr. Richard also introduced the new Mill Hill Missionaries who had arrived the previous day to take up their appointment: Fathers Ciril and Poulson, from India, and Fr. Lawrence from Kenya. He introduced Fathers Ignatius and Emmanuel, newly-ordained Cameroonian MHMs, who were to leave the next day to take up their appointments in the diocese of Kotido in Uganda.
After mass we had various photographs with the Nuncio and the bishops together with MHMs, the students who took the Temporary Oath, local clergy and religious and the laity.
A reception for everyone followed in the cathedral hall. The cutting of the Mill Hill Jubilee cake was an important item and was conducted by the Holy Rosary and St. Therese Sisters, with Fr. Richard and other senior MHMs, Fr. Arnold, Fr. Harry, Br. Huub and Br. Duncan, cutting the cake.
Fr Richard Njoroge mhm
While the guests and friends were enjoying their food the Mill Hill students choir group kept them entertained with beautiful choral singing, jubilee songs they had specially composed, the Mill Hill anthem, and traditional juju dances. At the end of the celebration, the Mill Hill Missionaries together gave the final blessing.
It was a grace-filled celebration and everyone went home happily, thanking God for such a beautiful celebration. We were also glad that though the occasion fell at the heart of the rainy season, the rains gave us a good chance to celebrate with a beautiful bright sunny weather uninterrupted.
Fr. Richard Njoroge MHM
Society representative Cameroon