Rev. Fr. Michael Corcoran is 59, is Irish, and was born and baptised on 7th March 1960 in Kilkenny, Ireland. He responded to a missionary call and went to our MHM minor seminary St. Joseph’s College, Freshford , Ireland (1973 to 1978) . This was followed by major missionary formation in Roosendaal, the Netherlands, and then in St Joseph’s College, Mill Hill, London, where he made his Perpetual Missionary Commitment on 29th January 1985 and was subsequently ordained priest 18th August 1985 in Galmoy, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland, and was appointed to Soroti, Diocese. Uganda. He continued to serve in East Aftrica in the following years, including being Vocations Director and Regional, and was elected to the General Council in 2005, with special responsibility for our missions in Africa. Having completed his five year term, he was later elected MHM Regional in Ireland and President of the Irish Missionary Union which he is still at the time of his election as General Superior of our Society.
He was elected 12th General Superior of the Mill Hill Missionaries on Monday 15th June 2015.
Message from the Superior General, Summer 2020
I am learning and using a lot of new words these days which till a few months ago I would never have employed in my daily conversation. Like “Pandemic”, for instance – not part of my normal vocabulary. Or indeed “Coronavirus”, “Covid19”, “quarantine”, “lockdown” and “new-normal”. But as if to bring some balance, some light into the picture, there is a further set of words which has been introduced into conversation; “generosity”, “kindness”, “service”, “compassion”. The present crisis has forced people to dig deep and they have been surprised at themselves and others to find that there is a well of empathy and a desire to foster the common good in most of us. I hope and pray that this will be part of the “new normal” and not just a passing phase.
What the world is going through this year will be spoken about for generations to come. When people look back on 2020, they will tell the story of how the world had to pause; travel was suspended; people had to isolate themselves from one another and learn new ways to study, to communicate, and do business. They will speak of how new opportunities were found for people to gather virtually – not only for lessons, socializing and decision-making – but also for prayer and the praise of God.
As I scan through the many social media platforms and also finding myself initiated into ‘zoom’, I realise more over the last months that many of us have experienced with positive surprise and flair, the possibilities offered by digital communication, and we hope to be able to take advantage of them also in the future; I want to commend you for the prayerful and creative use of various online platforms and other means that have brought encouragement, through God’s word and through prayer, to His scattered people during this critical time. With isolation and lockdown, I have realized also that the mutual physical presence of persons, their proximity, and encounter continue being the original point of departure and reference of our experience and of our faith journey.
We are called to move forward with enthusiasm. We have gone through so much and we are seeing such common spirit and an attitude to the common good coming through by the vast majority of people – we must not lose that. There is hope and there is this possibility especially as we honour those who have suffered, who have served for us, who have cared for us and above all those who have died. I remember in a special way Owen, John, Bob, Jim and Rene and commend them to the One they served.
You will have received the letter from Rome authorising the postponement of the 19th General Chapter and extending the term of office of the present General Council to the next Chapter. Due to the uncertainties that exist with the present fluid situation, the General Council are exploring options for arranging the Chapter. The safety of the delegates and all participants connected to the Chapter is our priority as we plan ahead. The General Council will issue a statement confirming the venue and dates for the Chapter by the first week of August presuming that the present easing of lockdown and quarantine continues on a downward trend.
The words that leap out at me at this critical time are “trust”, “hope”, “life”, “love”, “truth”.
Michael Corcoran MHM
To Mill Hill Students in Cameroon: Travelling companions – what does that mean?
To use a phrase from Pope Francis, all of us are called to wake up the world. How do we do this?
By living and communicating the message of Jesus Christ. Our Missionary way of life is part of that communication of the Word, of how our humanity was saved through God’s loving action and how the way we live our humanity must reflect the loving kindness of God. Our life is missionary and our formation should not be oriented only towards personal growth but also how we are to care for God’s people. Hopefully our formation is not only to produce administrators or managers but people who are brothers and sisters and – ‘travelling companions’.
Travelling companions – what does that mean? We missionaries are called to a prophetic life. We must more than ever speak to people through our lives – called to be prophets by demonstrating how Jesus lived on earth. We are called to light the way to the future and walk with others on that way. Our Missionary life is not an end in itself, but a service to God’s people on their journey.
I have written this in my messages in our Central Newsletters that waking up the world is not making news headlines – it always involves encounter and personal contact. It is about being alongside the men and women of our times in their own struggles in life and especially those who are on the periphery of society. As I said yesterday that periphery does not always refer to geographical or economic peripheries of Society – though this is also vital – but of the profound peripheries of alienation and hopelessness and suffering and search for meaning that exists among the men and women of our time. We are to be travelling companions who journey with others step by step in their search, not lecturers or moralisers who simply tell other people where they should be.
Missionary life is not just about doing things. It is about doing things in a different way. It is about witness and attraction. We must never tire of this. We are called to live life authentically in whatever circumstances we find ourselves in – our life is a never –ending challenge irrespective of increased age or numbers.
vital thing that we missionaries can do is pray- not just pray for someone but show what prayer means in a world where doing and having possessions seem to be the sole order of the day. Your life of prayer is also a prophecy. It is witnessing to the mystery of God’s presence among us. It is witnessing to the fact that God cares, that God loves, that God reaches out to us, even if his ways are mysterious. We have to learn to share our prayer life with others and guide people in prayer. This cannot be privatised. Your prayer is a service for the whole church and cannot be enclosed within the walls of your chapel.
Wake up the world – Pope Francis has a great gift of characteristically simple and striking language. His language is earthy: it is not earthy for our entertainment, but it is profoundly provocative and challenging. Perhaps my favourite comment of Pope Francis in his meeting with religious superiors, was when he said: our life is not a bottle of distilled water. Again what does this mean?
It means that we do not need a missionary life that is crystal clear, tasteless, insipid and safe. Our Missionary way of life must make noise, uproar and even a mess.
They are the Pope’s words and I like them. Noise and uproar and and making a mess were and in some cases still not on high on the instruction list of Formators. Those in formation were taught not to stand out, formed in conformity. Our charism as missionaries is not one of conformity. It is like yeast which even when you are not aware is always causing ferment and changing and developing. This is what the prophecy of missionary life is like. That is what the great missionaries were always like.
God called each one of us by name and still challenges us by name to respond and to find in our commitment to Jesus the fullness of our humanity. We need renewal in the Church. The Church will never renew by looking inwards. We can never be just and inward looking Society preoccupied by our own challenges. The moment we become over concerned with our inward challenges the more we will actually become more inward looking and never the out going reflection of the challenging and prophetic message of Jesus who cares.
Let us become more travelling companions seeking to live our Christian life more authentically and with renewed enthusiasm. May the Lord be our travelling companion and our guide as we reflect on the word and break the bread of communion.
Amare et Servire.
21st January 2017