Oosterbeek, The Netherlands: Lay Missionary Associates Meet

To what do I owe my being born here?

On Saturday, April 29, 2023, 22 Mill Hill (ex) associates gathered in St. Jozefhuis. The gathering to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Mill Hill Congregation’s inception of a lay missionary program was delayed by 3 years due to Covid. But thankfully, this was only a postponement. Unfortunately, some had to cancel due to illness or other commitments. Some of the (former) associates stay in Africa.

After a warm welcome and the enjoyment of coffee and cake, the atmosphere was immediately there. Seated in a circle together with some residents of the house, we, associates and (ex) associates , shared personal and inspiring life stories. Anthony had written on an A4 paper in large letters: To what do I owe that I was born here? That was his motivation years ago to go to Uganda via Mill Hill and that is his motivation to work for refugees in The Hague today. A recognizable phrase for all of us. For example, everyone’s story showed that the period of life in Congo (Zaïre), Uganda, Cameroon, Kenya, Papua New Guinea or Chile functioned as a motor for the next steps in our lives. Each of us placed an object, photo, or prayer in the center of the room to symbolically represent our past and present experiences. The reactions of those who could not attend the meeting were shared. It was clear that working in health care, education, community building or technical maintenance in an African country is an experience that has been decisive for the further steps in the life of the associates . And the involvement with the people of the Third World has been passed on to the next generation.

After praying the Lord’s Prayer in different languages, the Chinese lunch tasted excellent. The meal was also a moment to continue talking to each other.

In the afternoon we continued with the personal stories. Emotions are part of that. The fact

that the mission did not always run smoothly sometimes came to the fore, as all

pilgrimages have ups and downs. The St James shell on Hans Burgman ‘s grave was borrowed

by Jacinta to symbolise that the walks were and are a source of inspiration for her. The name of Hans and Piet Hosman, among others, was heard several times.

The motivation to join Mill Hill as a lay missionary ran like a red thread through our personal

life experiences. The red thread continues.

The regional, Fr. Ben Engelbertink invited us all to participate in the friends day on June 3, 2023 in St. Jozefhuis.

The meeting ended with words of thanks for the organization, after we had commemorated the associates and (ex) associates who have already left us . Before we enjoyed a cup of coffee/tea again, we sang the song that Theo Groot, who lives in Uganda, had sent. The song “Men wait for hope… somewhere over the horizon” that many of us have sung, preparing or even during the liturgical celebration to join Mill Hill as a missionary associate.

It was a beautiful and meaningful day. “It was like coming home again,” wrote one of the participants.

Toos Beentjes mhm

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