Glorious Jubilarians Day in Oosterbeek, The Netherlands

Initiated by Ben Engelbertink in the beginning of the 1980’s the annual celebration of the assembled jubilarians of the Dutch Region of the Mill Hill Missionaries on August 15, the Feast of the Assumption, has become a cherished tradition.

If at all possible all Mill Hill members and associates living and/or active in The Netherlands make their way to Oosterbeek on this hallowed day, where Sint Jozefhuis is now the venue of the celebration.

This year’s jubilarians are: Ferdinand Vergeer (65), Huub de Bij (65), Louis Kessels (60), Piet Korse 960), Toos Beentjes (50), Theo Geurtsen (50) and Martin Koenders, our accountant (12½).

Louis Kessels, Ferdinand Vergeer, Toos Beentjes, Theo Geurtsen, Martin Koenders, Michael Corcoran, Huub de Bij, Piet Korse, Ben Engelbertink

General Superior, Fr Michael Corcoran, presided at the celebratory Eucharist surrounded by the jubilarians. At the offertory each of the jubilarians presented a cherished symbol of his/her ministry or significant activity.

A glorious preprandial followed by the proverbial abundance of a Chinese buffet lunch concluded the events of the day.

Fons Eppink MHM

View pics taken at the occasion on FLICKr

Homily preached by Fr Michael Corcoran in full:

Predicate Evangelium.

– What a sound byte as we reflect on the Jubilees we celebrate today. ‘Preach the Gospel’ issued by Pope Francis on Pentecost Sunday last year. This is exactly what we are celebrating today as we give thanks to God for the lives and ministries of our Jubilarians who have done just that – bringing the Church’s mission to evangelise to the centre -and in doing so moving towards healing a broken world and creating new possibilities for those entrusted to our care and becoming a source of renewed life for our world and indeed for all of us …. Malaysia, Uganda, Congo, Chile, Kenya, Cameroon, India and on the Home Front here in the Netherlands.

Pope Francis has over the years and continues to break through all the old conventions and barriers of unhealthy traditions and reaches out to others -People talk about him, listen to him, and even watch him as he guides the Church in these challenging times. With the Synodal journey begun a number of years ago, all of us are being shaken out of our complacency and challenged to be what we are: missionary disciples called to bring others into community with God and sharing that communion with others. Called to shed the arrogance of the past and put on personal and corporate humility, in Christ-like fashion as we serve needy humanity.

True missionaries, who never cease to be disciples, know that Jesus walks with them, speaks and breathes with them. They sense Jesus alive with them in the midst of the missionary enterprise. Unless we see him present at the heart of the missionary commitment, our enthusiasm soon wanes and we are no longer sure of what it is we are handing on; we lack vigor and passion. A person who is not convinced, enthusiastic, certain and in love, will convince nobody (EG) 

In knowing today’s jubilarians and having lived with two of them in the same country I am well aware that in their own way they have reached out beyond their own comfort zone, to those in need throughout the world, especially the poor who are the first and most important. The horizons of evangelization and the need to witness the Gospel message to all without distinction, constitutes the vast field of our mill Hill Apostolate to which you have made and are making a significant contribution. Reaching out expresses our mission – we reach out and also allow others, especially those on the margins, to reach out to us. In evangelizing we are evangelized. The bar of Christian service and our own Mill Hill calling puts mission clearly at the centre, aware of our God given calling inviting us to participate in that mission entrusted to us, fragile as we may be, to give witness to his mercy and love for all people, especially to those on the margins of society, to those who are often overlooked and to those whose cries go unheard.

I am privileged to visit all our Mill Hill Missionaries world-wide, Africa, Asia, Latin America and here on the Home Front. I am particularly gladdened to see a new generation of Mill Hill Missionaries standing on your shoulders – our elders/ancestors – responding with openness, generosity and enthusiasm as we continue to witness to the Gospel in some of the poorest and most troubled parts of the world. Thanks to you, new chapters in the story of our Mill Hill

Society are being whtten, inspired by your witness continuing in the witness of our younger missionaries. We are looking to the future with hope as we open ourselves to the promptings of the Spirit and discern the new directions that God is guiding us towards. In my recent message in our Central Newsletter, I referred to the fourteen young men who accepted this mission, hailing from countries where you have worked, Cameroon,  Congo, Malaysia, Uganda, India.

As a Society we are blessed in receiving into our ranks these disciples who will continue the mission, leaving their own stamp as you yourselves have done for so many years. All of us disciples will witness across the huge spectrum of human diversity to the beauty and the power of the Good News. To those who are deeply divided, our missionaries offer hope of 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 we offer the

joy of sharing. To those who exploit the weak and plunder the planet we say ‘Enough is enough’. ‘We will tolerate no more’. To those so weak that they resort to violence we turn the other cheek. To the sinner we offer not just forgiveness but acceptance and a chance to begin anew. To those who think themselves so powerful as not to feel any need for God, we are gentle

irritants challenging them to be open to new possibilities.

I am thinking this moming of our presence in different parts of the world, young and old, men and women, ordained and lay.

Cambodia – a team of four young missionaries venturing back to a country decimated by Pol Pot. Two MHM’s at the invitation of the Local Church in the Diocese of Ngong, Kenya founded a new parish amongst the Maasai peoples. Its pastoral care has been entrusted to the Mill Hill Missionaries fitting with our charism to go where the need is greatest. Jesus often surprises but never disappoints as we once again re-trace God’s walking stick amongst the Maasai peoples.

Our presence in war-tom South Sudan will serve to strive for a just and peaceful country, to build up the Church, to bring people together in mutual respect and God-centered harmony…to make good things happen that would not happen if the disciple of Christ was not there.

Pakistan – among the Kutchi Kholi people, landless people.

South Africa – in the Townships and prisons of despair.

Jacinta van Luijk our Mill Hill Associate working in the Kitale Community Advancement programme in Western Kenya in the service of marginalised communities.

Now in line with our Chapters, we mission to our peoples on the Home front in Sunderland, England, and New York. Young MHMs working to share their charism in Europe and North America.

All are following in your commitment and ways of working modelled by you. There are many others but these give a taste of the sun total of all that is being done in the service of the Gospel.

Wherever we are before we can do mission we have to know the person and histher culture. Respect for a person’s culture, language, and way of life helps in sharing the Gospel values. The Church `must be a place of mercy freely given, where everyone is welcomed, loved, forgiven and encouraged.

None of our Jubilarians or any of your colleagues became a missionary in pursuit of power, human glory or economic wellbeing, but to serve, to share your faith and give of yourself to others.

I believe that you have shared this same vision and for countless people you have shown what the mercy and love of God is in practice.

You have welcomed, forgiven, encouraged,

Watered seeds of faith and anointed commitment and suffering,

You have bound people together in love

And untied the ugly knots of sin

Taken, blessed, broken and given

You have sown the seeds of faith and words of hope by acts of compassion, service and love. You did this with the generosity of Jesus Christ. So generously did you sow that despite the challenges, disappointments, indifference and flightiness of human nature and at times the raw greed of humanity …. birds …. rocks. . .weeds, enough seed remained to produce an abundant harvest.
You have been bruised and dirtied in the streets,

You have smiled and laughed and communicated the Joy of the Gospel to those both far and near.

Not over yet, you still have much to do in praying for, encouraging, supporting and having trust and confidence in the future of our Society and mission.

Congratulations. Theo, Toos, Louis and Piet, Huub, Martin and Ferdinand, and all who have supported you on the way – family, friends and colleagues.

For 65/60/50/12½ years of loving service -leadership, formation, administration, pastoral and reaching out in Kenya, Cameroon, Malaysia, Uganda, Congo, Chile, India, England and The Netherlands.

Know that you have our love and respect, not just for what you have done
but more importantly for who you are.

On this special day may God continue to bless you with joy,
A joy that will last for ever and ever, Amen.

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