Feast of the Assumption
Homily by Fr.Michael Corcoran mhm, General Superior
In my last message in the central Newsletter I wrote that over the past few months I have been
celebrating in various countries the 150th jubilee of our foundation as a Mill Hill Society where local
church leaders and those gathered for the celebrations sang the praises of past Mill Hill Missionaries
and demonstrated a genuine affection and respect for the work our Society has done in the past. It is
a song I have heard in Westminster, The Philippine Islands, Kenya, Scotland, The Netherlands and at
our APF gatherings particularly in Salford and Freshfield bearing broad and rich testimony to our Mill Hill motto, to love-and to serve’’.
Not so long ago, Pope Francis referred to missionaries as the evangelising heroes' of our times as he
shared the characteristics of men and women who choose to serve the Church as missionaries. He
praised the (irresistible drive' of missionaries who give their lives to the service of Christ.
In that broad and wide picture of missionary service to the Church and the world we gather
together to celebrate our own 'evangelising heroes’ celebrating 60/50/40 & 25 years of missionary service.
As I share with you this celebration I am very much aware of the wonderful range of mind-sets,
cultures and religious experiences that you have experienced on mission both at home (I visited our missionaries working among migrants in Amsterdam just a few days ago) and abroad that have brought us fulfilment and that surely challenged us – languages, customs, cultures, religions.
What does it mean to be a missionary in this beautifully complicated world – Timothy Radcliffe,
the former Master General of the Dominicans writes that
'we point to God who is the point of it all'?
From my own experience of mission in Uganda/Kenya and now in a wider context I can say that we
missionaries are profoundly grateful for the opportunities given to us whether they were:
At the edge or center
Urban jungle or remote areas
Up and down the river
At home or abroad
All have been an enormous blessing where we thankfully were also given opportunities to make
mistakes and hopefully learn from them.
In Society administration, in teaching, formation, and in missionary work at home and abroad, together we have so much to be proud of in our Mill Hill History. Let us rejoice in what the Lord has done through us, and most especially today through God's
accomplishments through the lives of our jubilarians here present. In many of our mission areas overseas I have experienced strong andvibrant local churches which have been built on the sacrifices of the first missionaries and the generous service of those who followed to the present day. In other countries we continue the gentle witness of being present in trying and difficult circumstances. That is what we do. And this work is now being continued by young missionaries from Africa and Asia.
To those who are deeply divided our missionaries offer hope and reconciliation. To those degraded
by grinding poverty our missionaries are signs of God's special option to be present among them. To
those blinded by their own wealth our missionaries offer the joy of sharing. To those who exploit the
weak and plunder the planet we will say, 'Enough is enough. We will tolerate no more’ (Laudato Sii) To those so weak that they resort to violence we will turn the other cheek. To the sinner you will offer not just forgiveness but acceptance and a genuine chance to begin anew. To those who think themselves so powerful as not to feel any need for God, we will be a gentle irritant challenging them to open to other possibilities. In your various ministries, you are part of the men and women, priest, brother and lay person, young and old from different backgrounds witnessing across the huge spectrum of human diversity to the beauty and the power of the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Many have faced insecurity, loneliness, isolation, intense discomfort, sickness and real danger. Many
suffer one way or another. By the grace of God, most endure and some find the wisdom and courage
to withdraw. And of course some have given the ultimate and supreme testimony of their faith in
the God of justice and life through their violent death. We remember them also together with your
classmates who have grown out of Mill Hill or who have died. With Mary we can say: ‘the Almighty has done great things for me’.
My prayer today here in Oosterbeek as we celebrate our jubilees is that we continue to place our
trust and confidence in God's leadership which has guided us in our ministry over so many years.
When we do this we are open to new possibilities, led along unexpected paths, face impossible
situations with optimism, experience, miracles of change, healing and protection constantly aware
that we are sustained and accompanied in this demanding task of evangelisation by the Lord of the
Harvest who continues to guide his people.
The vision that Pope Francis has for the Church is that it ‘must be a place of mercy freely given,
where everyone can feel welcomed, loved, forgiven and encouraged-to live the good life of the
Gospel … a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it is out on the streets'. Having met
many of today's jubilarians in Africa and Asia and on the Home Front all I can say is that Francis
would feel quite at home with you/us. You have the smell of the sheep about you.
The next generation of Mill Hill Missionaries stand on your shoulders and would be the first to thank
you for all you have been and continue to be for them – ancestors in the faith following your
commitment, way of working and yet putting their own stamp on mission. We rejoice and give
thanks to God.
For Jesus has set us apart
And sent us out into the world
So that through our actions and words which are rooted in the Truth of God's love for us
He will draw all people together in Him
So that we may all be one
Just as Jesus and the Father are one.
It is the love of God, and only God's love
That will bring us together
If we can stay close to this truth then the prayer of Jesus
'Father May they all be one'
Will be answered
Not because of what we are able to achieve
But because we dare to believe
In the power of God's love in our lives.
May God bless our celebration today and keep us in his love.
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