Celebrating 150th Jubilee at Westminster Cathedral

Celebrating 150th Jubilee at Westminster Cathedral

Feast of St Joseph, 19th March 2016

150th Jubilee – Westminster Cathedral

In 1866 Cardinal Herbert Vaughan , the third Archbishop of Westminster purchased a beautiful 18th Century House in the quiet village of Mill Hill in North London. He took up residence there with one student and in effect, the Mill Hill Missionaries, St. Joseph’s Missionary Society was born.

As the number of students grew the need for a bigger college was fulfilled by the building of St. Joseph’s College a few fields across from Holcombe House. In March 1871 the new St. Joseph’s College was opened with a community of thirty four.

The college grew from strength to strength becoming not only a local landmark with its impressive façade and its commanding tower topped by a huge statue of St. Joseph, but a focal point of the Local Church’s zeal for what we called then, foreign mission, the movement of missionaries from the old Northern Churches of Europe to the Mission lands of the South in Africa and Asia. This continued I imagine with the feeling that it would never end.

The massive social, cultural, economic and accompanying ecclesial changes in the 1960’s and 1970’s precipitated a radical change in our own Mill Hill Society.

At the 1988 Chapter with representatives from all over the Mill Hill world present, a decision was taken to recruit Mill Hill Missionaries from Africa and Asia, our former mission areas, now flourishing with well-established churches planted and grown by Mill Hill Missionaries.


Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Michael Corcoran mhm, General Superior

The Mill Hill Society now have formation centres in Cameroon, Kenya, Uganda, Philippines, Congo and India. Our Vocation Directors bring news of growing interest in young people discerning God’s call to follow the missionary way of life. It is fitting today to allow ourselves some self-appreciation as a Society on this our jubilee for the work accomplished. We rejoice.

All this clearly indicates where the future will be and where further significant changes will occur. Where change abounds, flexibility must abound more. The future is in God’s hands. The Spirit will show us the way forward and hopefully we will be able to respond with enthusiasm. In the meantime we continue to do what we do best – Mission. Our long and impressive record of doing mission throughout the world including what we are doing in this country will inspire, inform and guide future generations of missionaries and peoples, wherever they come from.

At this celebration I would like to acknowledge and pay tribute to you the people of England, Wales and Scotland for your accompaniment over the years. Not all of us can lay down tools as we have roots here but that does not make us any less missionary. Many people rooted in mission have never left these shores and have been a tremendous support to those on mission – involved in mission right where you are through your prayers and material support, reaching out in partnership to people far from here in need of your help. Mission is not someone else’s job – we are all connected locally and globally……GLOCALLY

Our partnership with Missio/APF-Mill Hill continues that relationship in a very real sense- Diocesan personnel, Secretaries – Directors, Appealers and of course the little red box, the significant symbol of our working together for mission and a better world.

Our Mill Hill Charism ‘to go to those most in need of God’s grace’ framed in a rich and colourful tradition begun in 1866 will continue long into the future, by the help of God and with the support of you – God’s people.

My thanks to all who shared with us in this jubilee celebration especially Cardinal Vincent Nichols. I also thank the Cathedral Administrator and Fr. Alexander Master for liaising with us throughout. I pay tribute to all our own missionaries – men and women including in a special way the Franciscan Missionaries of St. Joseph – scattered throughout the world living the Gospel amongst the peoples entrusted to their care

In the spirit of Pope Francis we decided to be a bit different – in lieu of a reception a substantial donation will be made by Mill Hill to the Jesuit Relief Service towards the relief of migrants.

Our mission points us into the future, where God’s greatest blessing is the blessing we are to each other. Amare et Servire. To love and to serve – As in the past, so in the present, into the future. Godbless.

Rev. Michael Corcoran mhm

General Superior

Westminster Cathedral

19th March 2016

To view the official photoseries click HERE (and scroll to right)

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