Recently, in his pastoral letter of last October to the people of the archdiocese, Archbishop Malcolm McMahon wrote: “In the city of Liverpool I have invited the missionaries of Africa, more commonly known as the White Fathers, to take over the pastoral care of one of our parishes. They will be setting up a mission to specifically respond to the needs of our African brothers and sisters, and others of various ethnic origins, in the city”. With that statement, it became known that the Missionaries of Africa in Great Britain are venturing into new waters, by opening a mission in Great Britain.
This venture, it can be pointed out, is not totally new. Between 1928 and 1960 we did maintain a community at Heston in West London at the service of the parish of Our Lady Queen of Apostles. We left Heston because the policy of the Society until very recently has been not to accept pastoral responsibilities outwith Africa. With the growth of the Church right across Africa, however, and with the changing situation of the Church right across the world, we are adapting this policy to suit modern times. In our last General Chapter – the governing body of our society which meets every six years – we gave a new definition to our Society: “Filled with the joy of the Gospel and guided by the Spirit, we are an intercultural missionary society with a family spirit: sent out to the African world and wherever our charism is needed, for a prophetic mission of encounter and of witness to the love of God”
So it is that we are moving into the Parish of St. Vincent de Paul, St. James Street, Liverpool 1
It is here that we hope to be of service to the parishioners and to the Archdiocese of Liverpool. We will be able to work with Fr. Peter Morgan, the parish priest of the neighbouring parish of St. Anne’s, Toxteth, who has already developed a centre for Asylum Seekers and Refugees, many of whom arrive in a desperate state from Africa. We will learn from him how to welcome the Disenfranchised and the Poor and we hope to continue his good work. We will also make contact, with a desire of entering into friendship, with the Muslim Communities of the city; and even wider if the Lord permits We will initially be three confreres: Fr. Ferdinand Van Campen from The Netherlands, with many years’ experience in Ghana and Zambia; Fr. Terry Madden, who has been a missionary in Burkina Faso and the Philippines, as well as in Preston and Southern Scotland; and with a confrere from Africa, who has yet to be named by the Superior General. With these three confreres, we hope to give witness to the intercultural character of our community life and to the universality of the Mission.
The new community hopes to be moving in to the parish at the end of August 2018. We will keep you in touch with developments.