This year, more than ever before, I am glad the days are getting longer and we have a little more light. What I loved about living in Cameroon was the fact that, at least on the Adamawa plateau where I worked mostly, you could nearly always see the sun; even after a downpour in the rainy season, the sun would quickly shine again…The week of 8-18 December was the coldest week in Scotland for a very long time (In Braemar the temperature dropped to -17C) and we certainly felt the chill here in Cardonald.

On Thursday 15 December myself and Fr John Doran returned from doing a funeral to find water pouring down from the attic of our house. Two of the water pipes had burst! This knocked out the electricity in large parts of our house for the next week. Fr John took great delight in getting out the candles and strapping on his head torch! In this edition of the Advocate we have an interesting interview with Mr Tom O’Neill of Clydebank who is a former Mill Hill Associate who worked in both the Philippines (with Fr John Doran) and in our mission in Sudan (now the Republic of South Sudan).

Our former pope, Benedict XV1 died 31 December 2022 and I thought it good to offer you an article written by Andrea Tornielli, Joseph Ratzinger and Faith as a Journey. In a phrase quoted by Pope Francis in the Joy of the Gospel. Emeritus Pope Benedict says, to paraphrase, that we are Christians not because we have read a book or thought deeply about life but “because of an encounter with a Person who gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction”. (Prologue to God is Love).

We are largely free to practice our religion here in Scotland but in many countries even going to Mass is a risky business. The report from Release International predicts an increase in persecution of Christians in 7 Asian countries in 2023 – including Pakistan and Malaysia where our Mill Hill Missionaries work. Please remember them in your prayers and do what you can, perhaps through contacting your local MP, to bring this reality to the attention of our governments. From listening to people from the groups that come to St Joseph’s House here in Cardonald and from our interacting with people in parishes where we do mission appeals, supplies or give retreats, a constant topic that seems to return regularly (because it bothers people) is Do we have to fear God? I offer this little article as an invitation for you to reflect on this question: What kind of image of God are we carrying around in our heads and, perhaps more importantly, in our hearts? It’s important to think about this because it determines how we relate to God, how we pray, how we live our lives, how we regard our world – and how we face death!

Sr Sally Hyland, a Sister of St John of God, gave us a very stimulating Mission Day last September that was peppered with memorable stories of her time working with Mill Hill Missionaries in the diocese of Ngaoundere, Cameroon. I hope you enjoy reading the story of Can a Woman forget her Baby?

As is the case each year, so again this year, we invite you to join us in the Novena to St Joseph – either by coming to St Joseph’s House for 10am Mass and the Novena prayer or by joining us in spirit as you make the novena from your own home. As 19 March this year falls on a Sunday we will be celebrating the feast of St Joseph on Monday 20 March with a Mass at 10am. This Mass at our house in Cardonald is open to all.

Finally, some excellent news to share with you: we were delighted to hear that Fr Mark Connolly MHM from Partick and currently rector of our Retirement House in Freshfield, Merseyside, has been appointed to join us at Cardonald as from March 2023. Thanks to all of you who continue to support us with your prayers and financial contributions. Health and happiness to you in 2023.

Fr  Bernard Fox mhm, Editor