Author: Paul de Schipper
At the occasion of the celebration in Oosterbeek, Holland, of the 150 years of existence of Mill Hill Missionary Society the first copy of a beautifully laid out Jubilee Book written for the occasion by retired professional journalist Paul de Schipper was presented to Fr Michael Corcoran, General Superior, by the author.
Explaining his long standing connection with Mill Hill Paul told the assermbled guests:
For me, Mill Hill started with a Sunday afternoon walk along the Nile. Southern Sudan, 1985. That walk brought me to Father Alfons ter Beke. Alfons was working in a warzone. Bullets, land mine explosions and famine. And then: Love and Serve, Amare et Servire. At that time I was not aware of the Mill Hill core value. But with growing admiration I saw Alfons practice these values every sweaty minute of his long working days. Making very basic choices.
"Paul, my home parish gave me money to build a school but children are dying here with hunger. I bought food, not bricks. What would you have done?"
Alfons told me aboutthe congregation and about his fellow missionaries in remote places in often-dark corners ofthe earth. And:
"We have a house in Nairobi, if you come back, you can stay there." He smiled and said: "Once you saw the waters of the Nile, you'll always be back." He was right.
As a journalist I went to places where most people ran away. Coincidence, in these places I often met Mill Hill missionaries. In Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Cameroon. And in Nairobi Martien van Leeuwen always offered me a safe bed. Few words … lots of
hospitality. I became familiar with other names in the Mill Hill world, visited Oosterbeek and wrote some Contactblad articles.
At home I started a file in a card box. On the box I wrote Missionarissen, Missionaries. Why? Just for the maybe … a book? Maybe … In the back of mind also the idea: Paul, this is the last generation of white Missonaries … they are living libraries, don't let hem slip away.
Paul de Schipper
I continued traveling, also to Africa … kept in touch with Mil Hill. About a year ago, there it was: the 'maybe".
Martien van Leeuwen called me. Straight away as ever, he asked me if I could write a book on the occasion of 125 Mill Hill
in The Netherlands. His request. A 2016 picture of the Dutch Mill Hill community. Mill Hill Netherlands, now.
Thinking out of the box Martien van Leeuwen had the courage to ask an outsider. I bet he must have been sweating sometimes … hoping and relying on a good outcome.
I became a regular visitor, staying in the St. [ozefhuis, enjoying hospitality. I was talking to Mill Hillers, sharing their coffee, sharing lunch and dinner. I could move around freely. Some of you must have been thinking; who is that guy? And, my friends
asked me. 'Are you going to join the congregation?"
Here in Oosterbeek, I discovered a group of people with sometimes very different characters. But also a lot in common, people who are used to cede responsibility. And, as someone in the book says: 'there are those who would still give away the last thing they have'.
And I discovered that Mill Hill people like Jacques Hetsen, Sjaak de Boer en Toos Beentjes have the best attended Mass celebrations in the Netherlands. Really very impressive.
I will use the opportunity to thank publisher Chris Verhoeven and his creative brains John Gaasbeek. Special thanks to all the people in these two houses for cooperating, entrusting your lives to me. Thanks for the patience in answering my, not always intelligent, questions.
Thanks. You have become like family. I feel at home. Beware! You haven't seen the last of me!
The book! This book is a present to all people ofthe Dutch Mil Hill community. 144 pages. Memories, reflections, visions.
Recorded voices of a last generation of white missionaries.
That brings me to the title. A title that reflects optimism: "There always comes a new source …" Quote Mill Hill missionary Eelke Piet Mous in Brasil. Thanks Eelke Piet.
The subtitle is dedicated to all residents living and working here. It reads: 'portret van mooie mensen", 'a portrait of beautiful people'. Well, this is it: Mill Hill Netherlands 2016. My mission is accomplished.
It's a great pleasure that I can hand the first copy of this jubilee book now to Mill Hill superior general Fr Michael Corcoran.