Mike Mearns, who has been living in Canada for many years, has come up with
some more flashbacks to the past. He has found a copy of the Golden Jubilee issue
of the 'White Fathers' magazine which, amongst other things, celebrates the fifty years
of Priory history. Two of the extracts from that issue reproduced below cover bits
of the past that you will find elsewhere on the website (and in Peter Finn's excellent
publication). I have chosen to reproduce them here, however, because they were
written at a time when, largely unknown to the authors, major changes were just
around the corner that would write the closing chapter to that history.
This is 1962 and it's fifty years on ; it's time to remember the sacrifices that have been
made, to chart the achievements and to raise a toast to the future.
(Thanks, once again, Mike).
Click on the article you wish to read :
|"From Our Letter-Tray" : a 1962 forerunner to 'Home and Away'|
|"Our Fifty Years"|
|A letter to the parents of Priorians : Summer 1956|
1. "From Our Letter-Tray"
Taken from the Golden Jubilee isue of the White Fathers magazine, as it was knwon in 1962
(contributed by Mike Mearns with photos taken from the Gallery)
Chatting about events of the past year, a member of St Patrick's parish, Leeds, recalls as a highlight a scouting holiday in Ireland. There the scouts found an old St Patrick's parishioner, and an old scout at that, to give them a warm welcome. He was Fr P. Walsh, W.F., who is the Procurator at our college at Blacklion, Co. Cavan. The scouts camped in our grounds there. Secretly, Fr Walsh says he hopes to meet some old St Patrick's boys one day in Africa ... as White Fathers!
Another St Patrick's man, Fr Thomas Stoker, whose brother is parish priest at Attercliffe, Sheffield, has been busy directing the work of improving the grounds at St Columba's College. Visitors next summer will find the place more attractive than ever.
Left : a photo of Fr Stoker who was Superior at St Columba's 1960 - 63
Well and truly installed likewise is the new house of studies at Templeogue, Dublin. His Grace the Archbishop generously granted permission to open this house to meet the urgent need of sound academic and Catholic teacher training for those responsible for education in Africa. A group of African students was ready to walk in as soon as the house was ready. Fr Christopher O'Doherty has been brought back from his teaching duties in Africa to be in charge at Templeogue. Brother John Ogilvie, until recently at the Provincial House, is with him.
At the celebrations in Dublin for the Independence of Tanganyika Fr O'Doherty preached at the Solemn High Mass in the University College Chapel. In London, a Solerrm High Mass was sung in Westminster Cathedral. The Celebrant and Ministers were African priests from Tanganyika The sermon was preached by Fr Bernard Brown and the singing was provided by the choir from our scholasticate at Totteridge.
At Totteridge, Oak Lodge, close to the scholasticate, has been the scene of intense academic activities during the past months, under the direction of Fr James Smith and Fr John Egan and with the collaboration of an impressive list of lecturers. But now the house is almost empty, pending the arrival of the next batch of students, for the young Fathers who had been attending the courses have now gone off to their much desired destinations in Africa.
With them at Oak Lodge was Fr Alan Thompson (left). After his seven years teaching at Bishop's Waltham he is at last in the missions! Our next issue will include a fascinating article from him on his first days in Tabora.
Tanganyika at the moment is not living up to the usual conception of sun-scorched Africa. So we gather from Brother John Kempston at Mwanza. He says the rains have been so heavy that many roads are out of use and that the journey into town is full of hazards unknown to him when he was at Palace Court. Mwanza Social Studies Centre, he tells us, is still developing according to plan. Eventually there will be as many as fifty buildings on the campus.
Bishop Blomjous, W.F., who is the founder and promoter of the Centre, was in England recently in connection with the Sword of the Spirit conference on Africa. Also present were Archbishop Kiwanuka from Uganda and Archbishop Hurley from Durban. It is these important missionary personages who appreciate more fully than anybody the devoted work of the Sword of the Spirit members for Africa, particularly indefatigable Miss Margaret Feeney.
News also from Bukoba of Fr A. Donoghue who speaks of 800 Confirmations and 200 children making their First Communion. The Fathers have been busy with retreatssix for the people at the mission station and as many in out-stations. We have had first-hand news of Bukobaand in what glowing termsfrom Fr Gielty who returned home on leave recently after his first period in the missions. His Bishop is already counting the days to his return!
Brother Kempston's remarks about Tanganyika weather at the moment are echoed by Brother George Ascott from Bugene, Bukoba. Fortunately he spends a good amount of time under cover at present, studying Kiswahili.
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2. "Chosen Men"
Taken from the Golden Jubilee isue of the White Fathers magazine in 1962
(contributed by Mike Mearns)
is always a wonderful thing to see how Providence selects the men to
launch great undertakings for the salvation of souls. This is especially
so in the case of founders of Orders and Congregations but it is also true
of the important developments in their history.
Two names are remembered with reverence in the fifty years of history of this Province. They are Fr Peter Travers and Fr Joseph Bouniol, both of them members of the first community of the first house of the Province, at Bishop's Waltham.
Fr Travers was one of a family of eight children whose parents never tired of telling them that nothing would give them greater happiness than the grace of vocations in their home. Three of the children were to receive that blessing. Peter and two of his sisters. All three became missionaries in Africa.
Peter was born in 1874. Very early in his childhood he set his heart on the priesthood and the thought of it filled his life from then on. Later, when he was at college, a White Father came to give the boys a talk on Africa. Young Peter's interest was roused and he soon resolved to be a White Father himself. His parents tried to persuade him to go on for the diocese, but he had given himself as firmly to the missionary ideal as to the ideal of the priesthood.
So in 1896 he entered the novitiate. He made his Profession on St Patrick's day 1899 and was ordained on March 30th, 1900.
For the first four years of his priesthood he was teaching in the Seminary of Philosophy. Then, in 1904, he had the happiness of sailing to Africa where he had been appointed to the Vicariate of Nyassa.This was still a young mission. Only a few years before, the first bishop, the famous Bishop Dupont, had faced the fiercest of tribesmen and had so won them over that they made him their king. When Fr Travers arrived there were only seven mission stations in the whole of the vast vicariate.
One of the bishop's greatest worries was the lack of resources for his work. The poverty of the missions and missionaries was very real indeed. Everything, even the essentials had to be drastically rationed. Two years after his arrival Fr Travers was made responsible for the finances of the missionsor, as he would put it, the lack of finances! In later years he always spoke with admiration of the wonderful selfsacrifice with which the missionaries faced up to the situation, and they for their part never tired in their praise of his devotedness and charm in carrying out his administrative duties. Throughout the rest of his life he never lost the practice of poverty acquired during those Spartan days. Ever after, for instance, his sermons, study notes, memoranda, were all written, in his small, clear hand, on the inside of envelopes, neatly cut open and folded over.
In 1910 he was made Vicar General and two years later he was elected a delegate to the White Fathers' General Chapter. It was from there, in 1912, as we have recalled earlier in this magazine, that he was sent to found the Priory.
As everywhere, he here rapidly won the esteem and affection of everybody. He was much sought by the clergy of the diocese and they took occasion of his jubilee, in 1925, to show how deeply they appreciated him. The impression he made on them and on his community and students was essentially that of a priestin his own life, in the solid instructions he gave and in the smiling happiness he radiated.
The priests who were at the cathedral in Portsmouth at the time he first called to see Bishop Cotter, used to tell of the deep impression he made on them. One thing they always remembered. He had been travelling across the Continent and by boat to Southampton all the previous day and night and had come straight on from Southampton to Portsmouth, only to find that the bishop would not be at home until 11 o'clock. At 11 o'clock the Bishop saw him and after the interview Fr Travers asked if he could say Mass. (It was of course the days of fasting from midnight). It was not just the long journey and fast that impressed the priests: it was as though the fact that he must still arrange to say Mass at that late hour was his one great preoccupation, even with the important business meeting with the bishop, on which a future foundation depended, on his mind.
It is easy to imagine how great the sense of loss was when, in the afternoon of Easter Sunday, 1926, he died, after a painful illness at the age of 53. He had guided the Priory through the first fifteen years of its existence, with the exception of a brief absence and illness in 1915, when Fr Forbes, later Bishop Forbes, of Uganda was acting superior.
Fr Bouniol was Fr Travers' right-hand man from the start and succeeded him as Superior. He remained in charge until the end of 1937.
It would be difficult even to list all that Fr Bouniol accomplished over and above his absorbing routine duties as teacher and, later, as superior. He was always full of ideas for improving the school and for furthering the interests of the African missions. The building of a gymnasium and an extra recreation hall, terracing the playing fields planting avenues of trees, extending the farm were all amongst his undertakings. And everywhere it was Fr Bouniol in his habit and blue apron, turning his hand to work on all these projects himself. Fr Bouniol, pushing a wheel-barrow of sand or cement on his way to lay a bit of path somewhere, was a familiar sight. In his mind's eye he always saw the picture of missionaries out in Africa coping with their priestly ministry and with their many material chores, and he never forgot his solidarity with them.
At the same time, from his desk came a monumental tome, "The White Fathers and their Missions" (see the Publications Appendix) and it was he who launched the magazine and built up the first wide circle of the friends of our missions. Many readers will still remember the early numbers and the letters they had from him. And with all this, there always seemed to be priests and lay-people calling to see Fr Bouniol. It is true that it would have been impossible for any one man to do all these things, as extra occupations, entirely by himself. But he had the gift of finding collaborators and enlisting their help and it remained he who directed and inspired their work. He knew, also, how to get the best out of his students and deepen their attachment to their priestly ideal. There was never so radiant a Fr Bouniol as when one of his past students came back to the Priory a priest.
It was indeed a hard cross for him when the Superior General appointed him to administrative work which necessitated his saying good-bye to the Priory and all the work and connections which he had built up during his long years there. He was only to return there on three brief occasions. He died in 1950.
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3. "Our Fifty Years"
Taken from the Golden Jubilee isue of the White Fathers magazine in 1962
Beautifully written but no author's name is given. Was it one of the priests who worked at The Priory ?
(contributed by Mike Mearnsextra photos taken from the Gallery)
DID you ever hear of a seminary whose foundation stone was laid by royalty and blessed by an Anglican Bishop? That in fact is what happened in the case of the White Fathers' missionary college at Bishop's Waltham, though, be it said from the start, neither royalty nor Anglican prelate dreamt that the stone on which so much royal and ecclesiastical ceremony was lavished would indeed one day be at the foundations of a Catholic seminary !
is the Story of It.
In the wave
of humanitarian undertakings of last century, some good people hit on
the idea that a hospital was needed at Bishop's Waltham : the hospitals
at Portsmouth and Southampton were just that much too far away to take
the less serious cases and something was needed to "provide for the
poor of the district those comforts in time of illness which can only
be secured for them by an organised establishment". So they resolved
to build a small hospital, to be known as the Royal Albert Infirmary.
A site was chosen overlooking Bishop's Waltham. It was certainly an ideal
spot, with commanding views of the wooded countryside for miles around.
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4. A Letter to the Parents of Priorians
A copy of the original letter, sent in Summer 1956, by the Superior Fr Paul F Moody :
(contributed by Mike Mearns)