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Click on the item of interest to you :

  1. The White Fathers & their Missions by Fr Joseph Bouniol

  2. The White Fathers — White Sisters magazine

  3. A History of The White Fathers in Scotland attr. to Fr Leonard Marchant

  4. A Biography of Bishop Francis Walsh

  5. The White Fathers (Missionaries of Africa) by Donald Attwater

  6. A School for Apostles : The Priory, Bishop's Waltham by Maurice Billingsley

  7. "Planting The Faith . . . " by F.A. Forbes

  8. Leaves from a White Father's Diary by Fr A E Howell WF

  9. Maurice & Thérese, The Story Of A Love by Bishop Patrick Ahern

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1. "History of The Priory Bishop's Waltham" by Peter Finn

This excellent book tells the story of The Priory from the laying of the foundation stone in 1864 to its replacement by a Catholic church, a park and housing in the 1990s.

It relates, in particular, the story of the Apostolic School of the White Fathers: its origins as a school for Arab boys in Algeria, why it came to Bishop's Waltham via France, the hardy life of the pupils, expulsions, boys arrested as spies, a former pupil condemned to death, digging air-raid trenches, boys permitted to smoke, the rogue impersonating a White Father. Interesting and little known facts abound throughout, in fact.

The appendices list every pupil, every member of staff (including lay teachers), the superiors, and the domestic staff. There is information on the political background to the exile in Britain, on the St Laurent d'Olt seminary of which the Priory was for some years the senior section, and on the great Cardinal Lavigerie.

The story of the school is interwoven with local events that directly affected it: the royal opening of the building as an infirmary and why it never had a patient, the beer riots, the Battle of Bunkers Hill, the Priory Barracks, Zeppelins, flying bombs, the police training school, the establishment of a parish by the White Fathers, and much more.

The book is hardback bound, has 308 pages, 51 illustrations, extensive notes and an index.

Available in limited numbers from the publisher, Hedera Books, at the special price of ?12.90 (incl. UK p&p) for members & associates of The Pelicans

(Overseas orders will require a contribution to parcel postage)
Also available from booksellers at ?15.99. Write to:

Hedera Books, Alderbrook, Springvale Road, Winchester SO23 7LF
tel: 01962) 885 266

Note: All cheques should be made payable to Hedera Books
and orders to include the name, address & phone no. of the purchaser

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2. The White Fathers & their Missions by Fr Joseph Bouniol
2. Transcribed on to CD and arranged by Robbie Dempsey

has done an oustanding job for us all here by reproducing this substantial history by Fr Bouniol.
The disk contains a reproduction of the entire book— nearly 400pages of text, photographs and illustrations—which was originally published in 1929 by Sands & Co (Covent Garden).

The scope of the book is very comprehensive:

Part 1 The Foundation and early history of the Society
Part 2 A Description of the White Fathers' Society
Part 3The Principal features of the missionary work of
Part 3the White
Fathers' Society
Part 4The White Fathers' Missions
Part 5 The Society in Europe and America

Included on the disk is a small piece of 'page turning' software which makes for perfectly convenient and comfortable viewing of the pages.

In reviewing Robbie's work, Michael Gallagher says: "The CD is excellent . . . interesting stuff which I am sure would interest the Pelicans . . .Those early WFs had a faith and dedication that certainly gives cause for admiration."?/i>

Robbie will give you a free copy if you want one—though he would like to use it to raise funds for Africa.

He's done an excellent job for us. Why not make him an offer which he can't refuse ? Just send a ONE LINE EMAIL requesting the CD, along with your postal address, to:

Robbie writes: "I would like the benefactor of this CD to be a certain Pere Valentijn,
Diocese de Kasongo East Congo (DRC)

Fr. Valentijn de Belie (a Belgian WF) had to flee the anti-government rebels in the Congo
in 1998 and broke his leg in flight. He stayed in London for a while but has since gone
back to his mission station.

Read more about this in the APPEALS section.

Robbie's postscript:
This current electronic version of Pere Bouniol's work is dedicated to the memory of Fr. Stan Lea W.F.
He was both a student (under Fr. Bouniol) and twice Father Superior at the Priory, in Bishop's Waltham, Hampshire.
He took a long detour from Kampala in Uganda, and was asked to close down the Priory. That happened in 1967 when
many students, including myself, were under his care.

I have not forgotten him. I recall vividly his arranging for me to make my first visit to, of all places, the Tate Gallery. That was to see an exhibition in 1966 of the unique and religious artist, the French expressionist Georges Rouault.

Fr. Stan knew a thing or two, especially that the world at its worst needs Christians at their best".

To request the CD just send a ONE LINE EMAIL, along with your postal address, to:

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3. The White Fathers - White Sisters Magazine

This is produced bi-monthly and contains information on current events and issues in Africa, including well-researched background information and reports from missionaries in the field. In addition, there is a section entitled ‘Home and Away’ (!) which reports on the arrivals and departures of our missionaries.

As is to be expected, obituaries feature in most issues, along with a list of readers, friends and associates who have recently died.

It’s an excellent production - beautifully presented, very readable and, without doubt, it presents the work of the Society to the world in a highly professional manner.

Various articles reproduced in this web-site appear by kind permission of The Editor, for which we are most grateful. The magazine is issued free, but contributions (of any size) are most welcome.

For those of you who aren’t aware of this excellent publication, you can get on the mailing list by contacting:

Fr Bill Turnbull WF
The Editor
The White Fathers
129 Lichfield Road
Sutton Coldfield
West Midlands
B74 2SA

Reminder: The Society’s official web-site is: www.the

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attributed to Father Leonard Marchant WF
• We are grateful to Chris Benton for making this publication available to us.

This 18,000 word document can be read or downloaded by going to Page 11 of the HISTORIES section.
When time allows, a review of this history will be displayed here and the text will be illustrated and
re-formatted to make it more accessible to modern readers.

"Contains a lot of interesting, anecdotal history, and certainly worth the reader's time, even when it meanders on occasion."

(Click Here to to go straight to it)

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5. The White Fathers (Missionaries of Africa) by Donald Attwater

Donal Attwater's 6,500 word chronicle appeared in a special edition of "The White Fathers" magazine — probably published in 1952, the latest date that is mentioned in the text. It is therefore about 50 years old and although it is interesting to read at various levels, it should primarily be seen as an historical document. Quite naturally, it reflects the language and attitudes of its time and readers should not be offended if they come across statements and opinions which would be frowned upon today. Many of us will have read such material when we were young and would have been inspired by such accounts of heroic lives to join the White Fathers. Some of us are just as inspired by the story as we read it today and can relate it to the way in which the Society has adapted and developed.

The text of Donald's Attwater's publication can be read / downloaded by going to Page 20 of the HISTORIES section.

(Click Here to go straight to it )

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6. A Biography of BISHOP FRANCIS WALSH, WHITE FATHER 1901- 1974
wwWe are grateful to John Morton for making this publication available to us.

This 8,500 word document can be read or downloaded by going to Page 10 of the HISTORIES section.
When time allows, the text will be illustrated with photographs and re-formatted to make it more accessible to modern readers.

To many of us who knew him, Father (Bishop) Walsh was something of a hero and this story of his life, with all its highs and
lows, is inspiring to read about— and very humbling, too.

(Click Here to go straight to it)

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7. "A School for Apostles" a study by Maurice Billingsley

When Maurice was an undergraduate at Christ Church College in Canterbury, he chose to focus on The Priory as the subject of one of his coursework assignments — partly, he now feels, to get back in touch with that part of his early life and also, no doubt, to try to understand the forces at work that had such a dramatic impact on the lives of both staff and students in those closing days at Bishop's Waltham.

These were traumatic, unsettling times for all concerned, and Maurice's cohort were directly involved in the changes that took place. He and his contemporaries were the final batch of students to reside at The Priory. It closed its doors in 1967, the year that Maurice finished his A levels and others had completed their GCE 'O' Level programmes. By the time that he headed off to the College of Philosophy at Blacklion, the place was already being made ready for sale.

"A School for Apostles", written in 1989, is a highly readable and authoritative piece of work — thoroughly researched (with over 100 references identified) but also a well-paced chronicle of 50+ years of history of the White Father's at The Priory. Maurice's study traces the exodus from France, the establishing of roots near the south coast of England and the gradual build-up of the White Father presence in the UK. It describes the similar approach to formation taken by other missionary orders and their diocesan counterparts (along with the inevitable competition for young hearts and minds) and identifies the social changes that eventually forced the White Fathers and other orders to completely re-think the way in which they would nurture potential vocations and training for the priesthood.

I think you will agree that the author deserves an alpha-plus for his efforts !

Read the document on-line or make a print-out. (8,000 words, plus references and sources)

Click Here to go straight to it
(Page 28 of the HISTORIES section)

Note: This electronic version has kept faithfully to the original text but includes slight changes to the illustrations offered.

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8. "Planting the faith in darkest Africa" by E.A. FORBES

Description to follow shortly.

Click Here to go straight to it
(Page 29 of the HISTORIES section)
• This electronic version has kept faithfully to the original text
but several extra illustrations/maps have been added.
• To ease downloading time, each of the 6 chapters (and Appendix)
has been recorded on a separate web page.

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9. "Leaves from a White Father's Diary by Fr A E Howell WF

Fr Howell spent 4 years visiting and working in Equatorial Africa, returning with a heavy heart to the UK just as World War Two was about to break out.

These extracts from his Diary describe the missions that he visited and the dedicated priests, Brothers and Sisters who ran them. His travels covered thousands of dusty, often dangerous, miles overland through Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanganyika (as it was).

"Leaves" is a colourful illustration of those days in far-flung outstations of the Church in Africa. It chronicles some of the sacrifice and hardship that his colleagues endured — which is described throughout with unfailing admiration.

The author develops an immediate and deeply-felt affection for the Africans that he meets and witnesses for himself the astonishing mass-conversions of the time. (Re-told and confirmed in the Appendix). The climate soon takes its toll on Fr Howell, however, and he finds the lifestyle very tough at times. Even so, we hear little complaint of his discomfort, and the sketchy account of his own aches, pains and illness help us to understand a little of the daily challenge that the missionaries faced.

This is an uplifting text, written with a light touch and an engaging enthusiasm that continues to charm.

A Short Review is provided below or Click Here to go straight to the text (Page 36 of the HISTORIES section)

• This electronic version has kept faithfully to the original text but several extra illustrations / maps have been added.
• To ease downloading time, each of the 15 chapters (and Appendix) has been recorded on a separate web page.


A Short Review
According to one account, the author was the parish priest at Heston (Middlesex) from 1931 to September 1935.

This surely can't be right : the first extract from Fr Howell's diary is dated 14th October 1934, where he is on board ship in the harbour off Mombassa.

It could be, of course, that the first year of this sojourn in Africa started out as some sort of sabbatical. Indeed, in the early days of this venture he seems to be very much the visitor-cum-tourist . His short Introduction (which I didn't discover until I had actually finished the book!) clarifies the situation for us however :

"I lived in Equatorial Africa from October 1934 to October 1938. For one year I was more or less (rather less) an ordinary missionary ; for two and a half years I was a teacher of theology and other things . . . . and for about six months I was a traveller."

I must say that I was surprised to learn that Fr Howell actually worked in the various missions he visited because there is little hint of this in the text. Initially, one gets the impression that he must have been enjoying some leisurely (but long) fact-finding tour, sending back reports to the powers-that-be whilst his missionary colleagues worked long and hard in the vineyard.

During the four-year period he covers thousands of miles overland through four countries : Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanganyika. Mostly, this journey is exhausting, uncomfortable and not without risk to life and limb. But to compensate for any hardships there is always a huge welcome when he arrives at the next mission on his agenda. His hosts are always hungry for news of the old country, of course, and many times he meets up again with long-lost friends from the UK. The hospitality is always generous, though on occasion, one suspects, even leaner times are in store for the residents once this visitor leaves.

In fact the more sceptical reader might think that these men also suspect that he is some sort of covert inspector — and the reason that everyone is so eager to ensure that he is suitably impressed with the progress being made at each mission and that he returns to his masters ready to fight their case for much urgently needed funds and personnel.

Perhaps he always made a point of announcing that he was writing a book about his experiences, so that everyone was on their best behaviour and made sure that his visit was a pleasant one !

As you get into the book, however, it becomes plain that Fr Howell is by nature a self-effacing individual ; his own contribution during that period and any ill health that he, too, might have suffered, is given scant treatment. This is a warm and sensitive human being who focuses only on the monumental achievements and dedication of his fellow priests, Brothers and Sisters.

His deep affection for Africa and Africans is also self-evident. Typically, as he sets off from one mission to the next (as he does so many times in those four years) there is always sadness in his heart for the many friends in the community he has just left behind. No doubt the feelings were mutual.

Here is a diary that was published just as World War 2 broke out — nearly 70 years ago, in fact — but it is written with such enthusiasm, compassion and optimism that it cuts through the decades and challenges any gratuitous opinions that we might harbour today about the best of what was achieved in those early 'colonialist' days.

However it strikes you, there's no denying that this is a compelling read.
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8. "Maurice & Thérese, The Story of a Love" by Patrick Ahern

This is the story of the little-known relationship between a young, aspiring, White Father seminarian—Maurice Belliére, studying at Sommervieu in the diocese of Bayeux—and the 23-year-old nun, known to us now as Saint Thérese of Lisieux.

The book contains nearly two dozen letters that they exchanged as she lay ill and dying in the Carmel.

Maurice, full of anxieties about his vocation to the priesthood, had written to her Mother Superior for spiritual guidance and Thérese had been selected to help him.

The author, Bishop Patrick Ahern, a leading expert on Thérese, takes each letter in turn and adds his own insights and commentary.

All of the following is taken from the book's jacket :

"As Saint Thérese lay dying in the Carmel of Lisieux, she overheard a conversation that amused her. Outside her window, two nuns were discussing what they could write in her obituary that might possibly be of any interest, since the twenty-four-year-old nun had never done anything worth noting. Thérese was pleased, for she had always kept a low profile. With the posthumous publication of her spiritual autobiography in 1898, however, that unknown person would vanish instantly.

She became one of the most beloved saints of all time, and her influence will expand dramatically because of Pope John Paul's eclaration that she is a Doctor of the Church.

Amid growing interest in her writings comes the collected correspondence between herself and a humble young seminarian, Maurice Belliére. Though they never met in person, they exchanged twenty-one letters that open a window on the heart of Saint Thérese—a window that would have remained foreever closed had Maurice not written to the Mother Superior at the convent asking for a nun to pray for him. the Mother Superior chose Thérese, and in these conversational letters the Little Flower reveals herself in a way that we would never have know from her autobiography.

In his accompanying text, Bishop Patrick Ahern expertly leads the reader into the worlds of Maurice and Thérese, and reveals the full beauty of this saint's spirituality.

Patrick Ahern, an auxiliary bishop of New York, is widely regarded as one of the foremost experts on the spitituality of Saint Thérese of Lisieux. He lives and works in Manhattan.

The magnificent correspondence between Thérese of Lisieux and a young struggling priest—and the inspiring story behind the intersection of two very different lives."

Charles Scribner III : "In his balanced, insightful narrative, Bishop Ahern avoids the pitfalls of hagiography : he gives us no plaster saint, but a full-bodied portrait, full of shadows and light. The reader is left with a sense of the sheer divine mystery of the love and suffering—in every sense the passion—of these two young people touched by God. It is a most timely book for a secular age ; it is also a gift."

Mary Higgins Clark : "A beautiful and inspiring story—truly a book about a saint for sinners."

John Cardinal O'Connor, Archbishop of New York : : "A marvellous book. Perhaps I knew St Thérese as a saint before I read her letters to Maurice and his to her ; I did not know her as a woman. Now she fasinates me more than ever."

"Maurice & Thérese
The Story Of A Love"
Published by Doubleday
ISBN -0-385-49261-8

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