Sunday, 6th October 1968

Taken from The Universe

"Ten African priests were the chief concelebrants with Cardinal Heenan at Mass in Westminster Cathedral on Sunday to mark the centenary of the White Fathers.

Before the Mass, sixty young men, students from the White Fathers' college at Totteridge, north London, processed in their habits to the choir behind the altar.

Twenty African nuns were conducted to places in the nave.

Distinguished African diplomats, including the High Commissioners for Malawi and Zambia and representatives of the governments of the Congo, Tanzania, Ghana and Uganda, were escorted to their special places by Missionary Brothers of the White Fathers.

The Veterans
Representatives of non-Catholic missionary societies, Methodist, Anglican, Baptist, knelt at their side.

In the stalls on either side of the sanctuary were veteran White Fathers, men who have seen 30 or 40 years service in Africa and were now invalided home.

Cardinal Heenan preached.

The White Fathers had not simply gone out over the past 100 years to take the church to Africa, but to build up an African Church — a very different thing indeed, he said.

At the end of the Mass the Cardinal, students, the African priests and nuns, the veterans — and those representatives of other Orders and congregations which had come to join in the celebrations, the Mill Hill Missioanries, the Consolata Fathers, the Society of African Missions — joined in singing a Te Deum of thanksgiving."

(source : The Universe / Keith Lawson)

"Places of honour on either side of Cardinal Heenan went to African priests when a special Mass of
thanksgiving for the centenary of the White Fathers was concelebrated in Westminster Cathedral on Sunday."

Can you see Fr Brenard Duffy on the right, directly above the server at the bottom ?

(source : The Universe / Keith Lawson)

"Westminster Cathedral was full for the White Fathers' centenary Mass. In places of honour were the High Commissioners for Zambia and Malawi, Mr Chipimo and Mr Mangwazu respectively. The fron row was filled by representatives of the governments of the Congo, Ghana, Uganda and Tanzania.

With thanks to Keith Lawson for the above

taken from the Wf / WS magazine no.163, Dec 1968 -Jan 1969, via Pat Menzies


The Centenary of the Society was commemorated in London on Sunday, 6th October (1968) , and took the form of a Pontifical High Mass of Thanksgiving in Westminster Cathedral. His Eminence Cardinal John Heenan was the principal celebrant. His co-celebrants were Father Duffy, our Provincial, 10 African priests from Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and the Congo, The Superior General of the Mill Hill Missionaries, the Provincial of the Divine Word Fathers, and representatives of the Verona Fathers, the Consolata Fathers, and the Society of African Missions, the co-founder members of the Missionary Institute, London. His Lordship Haile Mariam Cahsay, the Ethiopian Eparch of Adigrat, our latest assignment in Africa, was a magnificent figure in the stalls.

The choir and servers were drawn from St. Edward's College and Broome Hall.

The White Sisters were present in strength as they were also celebrating their centenary, and they brought with them a good number of African Sisters and about 100 people from the North of England.

The Diplomatic Corps was represented by the High Commissioners of Zambia and Malawi, the Deputy High Commissioner of Ghana, and representatives from the Congo, Uganda and Tanzania. Representatives of the Church Missionary Society, the Baptist Missionary Society and the Methodist Missionary Society were also present, along with Sisters from the Congregations working in our missions.


The Cathedral was crowded for the occasion and there was a large number of Africans present.

His Eminence the Cardinal gave the address which we reproduce in full.

The Cardinal's Address
" The White Fathers are colour blind. They have no interest in the colour of a man's skin. They are interested rather in a person. I mention this because I want you to know that it is not by chance that during this Mass of concelebration the chief places will be occupied by African priests. This is at the direction of Father Provincial. These priests will be in their honoured position not because of the colour of their skin but because they are Africans, and I will return to this thought about being Africans in a few moments.

No celebrations
First of all I want to draw your attention to a truly remarkable fact. We are gathered here today to celebrate the centenary of the foundation of the White Fathers. A centenary—a tremendous event in the story of any family or nation or institute. This is the remarkable fact : these centenary celebrations, jointly held by the White Fathers and the White Sisters, are not going to take place at all. You are witnessing the one and only recognition of this centenary. In my long life I have never known any institution, civic, social or religious, which did not make a tremendous celebration for its centenary.



Why have the White Fathers and the White Sisters refused to do more than this? For one reason only. They were determined not to spend one penny which in their view belongs to Africa. They would not squander even the fare to bring distinguished cardinals and bishops from Africa to take part in these celebrations. No, they said, our Order is African, and we shall do nothing to take away from the resources of our Order in Africa.

This I regard as an act of great self-denial. God bless them for it. And incidentally it will give those of us who support the White Fathers and the White Sisters the greatest possible encouragement because we know that they will use their resources well for the reasons why their Order was founded.

African Church
Now let me come back to this thought of Africa. They are called White Fathers and White Sisters because of the colour of their habits. That is the only thing white about them. Everything else is African.

The Order was founded in Africa for Africa and these priests, brothers and nuns will always be determined not to found a Church in Africa but to found an African Church. There is a world of difference.

It is because of this thorough determination to build an African Church that the White Fathers and the White Sisters are so popular among African people. That is the reason why so many flock to join their roll, so many who have learnt to know and love the White Fathers and Sisters. One third of all priests in Africa have been educated by the White Fathers and the young men and women-priests and nuns from Africa —who are come to London to study to prepare themselves to serve the Church in Africa, are all witnesses to the great work of the White Fathers in Africa.





I am not going to give you the history of the White Fathers—there is no time this morning—but I want you to know that although the greater part of their energy has gone into the work of education, the work of the nuns into the education of girls, training in mothercraft, preparing young people for their work in life, nevertheless this work has not been carried out without personal sacrifice.

There has been a number of the White Fathers who have given their lives for their faith and for their work in Africa. They have their role of martyrs and that makes this celebration of their centenary that much the more glorious.

That is all I want to say this morning. I want to congratulate the Fathers and the Sisters on the achievement of a hundred years. I want to congratulate them, but still more I want to congratulate Africa on having produced this Order and on having received such striking benefits from the work of the Fathers, the Brothers and the Sisters. For everyone in Africa knows that these priests and nuns do not go with outstretched hands looking for gifts. Their hands are outstretched in order to work and to help their brethren in Christ.

I pray this morning that Christ will continue to bless and guide them in their work for Africa, and that Mary, the Mother and Queen of Africa, will always be by their side, a loving and grateful Mother to her children.


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