Considerable interest, especially among the local Roman Catholic community, has been evinced in the arrival in Heston of a section of the monastic Order known as" The MISSIONARIES OF OUR LADY OF AFRICA OF ALGIERS," commonly known as" THE WHITE FATHERS." They have taken over WESTBROOK HOUSE, where they have now been established for some weeks, for the purpose of being within easy reaching distance of the Diocesan Teaching Centre situated at Strawberry Hill.
The White Fathers intend to study English methods of teaching in order the more to fit them for the task of education and missionary work in NORTH AFRICA Although they have been here for so short a time in the neighbourhood, they have been more than delighted with the attendance at Mass in their chapel at Westbrook House. OVER 120 "OF THE FAITHFUL" being present at the three Epiphany Sunday celebrations.
The Order was founded in 1868 by CARDINAL LAVIGIERIE and their work is the conversion of the heathen and Mohammedan's in Africa, in which they have met with no little success. Their headquarters is situated at Maison Carée, near Algiers, and all nationalities are admitted to the community. Liturgiologists will be interested in the fact that they use in addition to the Roman rite, a form of the Greek Melchite rite, which is peculiar to large sections of the Eastern Orthodox Churches.
The Brethren are distinguished by a remarkable resemblance of their habit to the dress of an Arab. It consists of a cassock or Gandoura, with a mantle or Bournouse, and a Rosary or Cross is worn around the neck in the manner that Arabs and Mohammedan's generally wear the amulet.
One who knows the Order and its work well writes:- "I am sure the public as a whole will, irrespective of race or creed, welcome to the neighbourhood a body of 'Religious' such as these, who have given their lives to the cause of Christianity and have accomplished much fine works of conversion in the past. All will join in wishing them God-speed in the task, which they have come here to perform."
It appears that a party of White Fathers came to England some time ago to recuperate, and during their visit obtained knowledge of the education centre, which had been established at Strawberry Hill for the purpose of training Catholic school teachers. As a result of their observation, they represented to CARDINAL BOURNE their desire to study the English methods of teaching in order to engraft it into their own work in the African continent. The Cardinal at once expressed his approval on the condition, that the Brethren started a Mission for the large group of Catholics, who had taken up residence in Heston, and who had to either go to SS Michael & Martin's, Bath Road Hounslow or St Mary's North Hyde for their religious services.
The Monks agreed; Westbrook House (left) and grounds were purchased by the direction of the Cardinal and in a few days after the Fathers had taken up their abode there, one of the commodious rooms was fitted up as a chapel, where masses have been since celebrated and well attended every Sunday since. In the meantime preparations have been put in hand for the erection of a permanent church on the site, and on Sunday evening a meeting was held at the Church of St Michael and Martin to consider ways and means of giving effect to the agreement between the Cardinal and the Monks. It is estimated that THE BUILDING WILL COST ABOUT £2,000 ; the work is to be put in hand at once, and it is hoped that the Church will be ready for consecration by the end of August.
The Father Superior is FATHER LAANE assisted by FATHERS LACROIX and ROBERT, and the latter are attached to the Heath Council School as instructors in French and Physical exercise. Apart from parish work for which the new church is shortly to be built, Westbrook House will be a centre for a school of studies for the Order, so that students can attend the teaching centre at Strawberry Hill and learn the English methods of education.
Father Alfred Howell and Father Arthur Hughes were assigned to assist Father Laane at Heston. Father Howell (succeeded Fr Laane in 1930 as Parish Priest), and Father Arthur Hughes (was to become Archbishop Hughes, Apostolic Delegate of the Middle East at Cairo).