Significant dates relating to the history of the White Father's UK Province

YEAR EVENT Concurrent events
1912 • Due to threatening anticlericalism in France, Fr Travers and Voillard of the 'Society of Missionaries of Africa' are sent to England to establish an Apostolic School.

A suitable property in Bishop's Waltham is purchased—later to be designated 'The Priory'—to act as a junior seminary.
• The sinking of The Titanic.

• Birth of the Chinese Republic.

• Woodrow Wilson elected US President.
The Bishop of Portsmouth visited Bishop's Waltham for the solemn opening and blessing of the new Apostolic School, erected by the White Fathers at the Priory.
• Panama Canal completed.

• Border between Nigeria and Cameroon defined by Britain and Germany.
1914 • French students at The Priory are called up as they reach military service age.

Maurice Billingsley reminds us : "Six of the 56 French boys died in the War, another of tuberculosis, and two others whilst students in North Africa. Eight were ordained as White Fathers, one became a brother; three were ordained for dioceses in France."

• Bishop Forbes spent a few months at the Priory. He arrived on 27th August 1914 and left on 20th April1915. In 1914 he had been appointed to Uganda but diverted to the Priory to improve his English (in spite of the surname he was Quebecois) and to replace Fr Bouniol who was mobilised on the 3rd September. Fr Travers had been absent since 18th July. (Fr Frank Nolan MAfr)

• Start of WW1

• Pope Pius X dies and is succeeded by Benedict XV
1915 • In 1915, the number of Priory students, all French, had fallen to 18. (By 1916, the number was further reduced to 14). • German army in Southwest Africa surrenders to the South African government.

• The first use of chemical warfare at the Second Battle of Ypres on April 22

• Beginning of the Gallipoli Campaign on April 25.

• Italy signs the Treaty of London and joins the Triple Entente on April 26.

• The RMS Lusitania, ocean liner is sunk by the Germans on May 7.

The Germans occupy Warsaw on August 5.
1916 • First British students at The Priory—including Ronald Walker from Bishop's Waltham.

• Fr Charles de Foucault murdered.
• School of Oriental & African Studies opens iin London.
1917   • Russian Revolution to overthrow the Czar.
1918 • Arthur Hughes, destined for great things, starts his training at The Priory. • End of WW1

• Lloyd George (Lib) wins the Election.
1919 • The General Council decides that The Priory is to be run exclusively for English-speaking recruits.

• 50th Anniversary of the Society.
• First helicopter flight.

• Alcock & Brown fly non-stop across the Atlantic.
1920 • Philosophy students housed at The Priory (one year).

• The 22 known Ugandan Catholic martyrs were declared "Blessed" by Pope Benedict XV.
• Lady Nancy Astor becomes the first female MP to take a seat in Parliament.

• Oxford University admits the first 100 female students as full members of the University.
1921 • Philosophers transferred to Hennebont, France. • Prohibition era begins in USA.

• Creation of the Irish Free State (26 Irish counties that were predominantly Catholic).
1922   • Pope Benedict XV dies and is succeeded by Pope Pius XI elected.

• Howard Carter discovers the tomb of Pharoah Tutankhamen.
1923   • Stanley Baldwin succeeds Prime Minister Bonar Law.
1924 • St Mary's, Autreppe, Hainault, Belgium (British Province), opens as House of Philosophy.  
1926 • Fr Howell ordained.  
1927 • Fr Peter Mary Travers dies, 17th April, and is buried in The Priory cemetery. • Charles Lindbergh flew from New York to Paris (in "The Spirit of St Louis").
1929 • The White Father's open up a parish at Heston, near Heathrow. 'Our Lady Queen of Apostles' church'.

• Fr Arthur Hughes WF ordained and appointed to The Priory.
1930 • The White Sisters arrive at Heston (to a large house on 'The Green') and begin a postulancy for their order. Amongst other duites, the Sisters help with catechism classes.  
1931 • Fr Walsh opens an apostolic school in Monteviot. • New Delhi becomes the capital of India.

• The millennialist Bible Student movement adopts the name Jehovah's Witnesses.

• Al Capone is sentenced to 11 years in prison for tax evasion in Chicago, Illinois.
1932 • Closure of Bishop's Waltham's station to passenger traffic (31st December). • Adolf Hitler obtains German citizenship by naturalization, opening the opportunity for him to run in the 1932 election for Reichspräsident.

• Paul Gorguloff shoots French President Paul Doumer in Paris; Doumer dies the next day.
1933   • Vatican state secretary Eugenio Pacelli (later Pope Pius XII) signs an accord with Hitler.

• Albert Einstein arrives in the United States as a refugee from Nazi Germany.

The United States Federal Government ends Prohibition and outlaws cannabis.
1934 • St Columba's, Newtown St Boswells, Roxburghshire, opened to act as a junior seminary, preparing students to move to The Priory Bishop's Waltham after two years of study. • Nazi Germany passes the "Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring."

• Adolf Hitler becomes Führer of Germany, becoming head of state as well as Chancellor.
1935 • James Holmes-Siedle ordained a priest in Carthage (made Bishop in 1946). • Bruno Richard Hauptmann is convicted and sentenced to death for the kidnapping and murder of Charles Lindbergh, Jr.

• Alcoholics Anonymous is founded in Akron, Ohio by William G. Wilson and Dr. Robert Smith.
1936   • Death of George V, succeeded by Edward VIII, succeeded by George VI.

• Full Independence achived by Egypt.
1939 • St Mary's, Autreppe (Belgium) closed.

• Rossington Hall, Doncaster, taken over as a military barracks.

• Philosophers moved to France (Kerlois) and the non-Irish amongst them are subsequently interned in the German POW camp at St Denis, Paris.
• Start of WW2

• Pope Pius XI dies (10th February), succeeded by Pius XII.
1940 • Pupils from The Priory are evacuated to St Columba's.

• The Priory is taken over as a military barracks (until 1944).

• Philosophy students transfer to the Farm House at St Columba's.
1941 • Second year Philosophy move from St Columba's to Rossington Hall (Doncaster). • Ethiopia gains Independence from Italy.
1942 • The top two classes of Priory students returned to Bishop's Waltham from  St Columba's.

• First year Theology students move to Oscott, the Birmingham Diocesan Seminary. (One year only).
1943 • Theology students move from occupied North Africa to St Columba's to finish their studies.

• Novitiate established at Rossington Hall as well as a House of Theology for Oscott and graduated Philosophy students from St Columba's. The Hall also caters for Philosophy students (until 1946).

• Temporary accomodation at 121 Lichfield Road, Sutton Coldfield for First Year Theology students at Oscott (Jan-Sept).

• Fr Arthur Hughes appointed Apostolic Delegate to Egypt.
• Russia finally defeats the German army at the battle for Stalingrad.

• Commander Guy Gibson and his team of 'Dambusters' strike a damaging blow to Germany's military heartland in the Ruhr Valley.
1944 • Novitiate moves to Sutton Coldfield.

•After the Allies reoccupied Paris, the internees at St Denis are liberated (August).
• End of WW2 in Europe

• Butler's Education Act
1945 • St Columba's acts as Novitiate for this year.

• Fr Arthur Hughes WF consecrated titular Bishop of Hieropolis.

• Broome Hall bought to house the Novitiate.
• Atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima & Nagaski : Japan defeated

• Clement Atlee (Labour) wins the Election.
1946 • Novitiate moves to Broome Hall, Surrey.
• St Columba's takes in Philosophy students.

• Fr James Holmes-Siedle appointed titular Bishop of Adraa.
• The (official) start of the baby boom (!)

• Italy becomes a republic.

• Fr Arthur Hughes WF appointed Internuncio.

• Fr Howell appointed Provincial of Great Britain.

• Tenancy of Galley Down acquired by The Priory.

• Discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

• The Marshall Plan is put into operation.

* Coal and other industries nationalised.
1948 • Philosophy moves to Broome Hall.

• Theology moves from Rossington Hall to Monteviot and s'Heerenberg (Netherlands).

• Novitiate established at s'Heerenberg.

• A study house is opened at St Andrews (in Scotland) for missionaries taking courses at the Unversity, with Fr Walsh as its first Superior.

• Training in English and the British way of life for missionaries working in 'Anglophone countries begins at   Claughton Hall in Lancashire and (later) at Palace Court, London. Fr William Burridge is given the job of devising appropriate courses and running them.
1949 • Death of Archbishop Arthur Hughes WF.

• Ordination on 3rd June of many of the people who had been interned at St Denis POW camp (and others).
See Gallery Page 223 and the VIDEO Appendix.
1950 Bishop Kiwanuka, Vicar Apostolic of Masaka, visits Broome Hall.

• Fr Drost's Golden Jubilee celebrated at St Columba's.

• Death of Brother Aubert, who served at The Priory from 1912 (where he spent all of his missionary life).

• Ordination of Fr Patrick Fitzgerald.

• Palace Court in Bayswater, London, is opened as a house of studies — a more convenient base than Heston for missionary students undertaking courses in various London Universities and colleges. It also acts as the Brish Provincial house (until 1960).

• Start of the war in Korea.
1951 • Fr Francis Walsh WF appointed Bishop of Aberdeen.

• Building of new chapel at St Columba's begun.
• Libya gains Independence, with help from the UN. (Monarchy until 1969 when Gadaffi took power).
1952 Blessing of new chapel at St Columba's. • Death of George VI, succeeded by Elizabeth II (who was in Kenya at the time).

• End of rationing in the UK.

• Mau mau rebellion in Kenya starts.
1953 • Fr James Holmes-Siedle appointed Bishop of Karema, Tanzania. • Coronation Year (2nd June)

• Hillary & Tenzing conquer Everest.

• Ceasefire signed, ending the war in Korea.

ª Jomo Kenyatta imprisoned for 7 years.
1954 • Brother Modeste's Golden Jubilee celebrated at The Priory.  
1955 House of Philosophy opened at St Augustine's, Blacklion, County Cavan.

• s'Heerenberg closed as House of Theology.

• Start of Novitiate at Broome Hall.
• Gamal Abdel Nasser appointed Egypt's President.
1956 Death of Brother Modeste at The Priory, 22nd February, age 82. • Hungarian Uprising

• Sudan granted independence, 1st January.

• Tunisia gains independence 20th March

• Morocco gains Independence from France, 2nd March.

• Morocco gains Independence from France: 20 March.

• Suez crisis.

• Frogman Buster Crabb fails to surface after inspecting a Russian ship at Portsmouth.

• Elvis Presley's 'Heartbreak Hotel' is released, sealing the fate of many contemporary Priorians.
1957   • Independence for Ghana.

* Laika the Soviet dog orbits the Earth in Sputnik 2.
1958 • Monteviot closed as House of Theology—students moved to St Edward's, Totteridge.

• Oak Lodge, Totteridge, London, is the new base for Philosophy students.

•The study house at St Andrews (Scotland) is closed and becomes a Catholic university chaplaincy.

• Death of Pope Pius X1, succeeded by John XXIII
1960 • The WF parish at Heston is handed over to the diocese of Westminster.

•Palace Court closed.

• Monsignor Laurian Rugambwa is elected as the first African Cardinal of modern times. (Click here for more).

• Death of Fr Pierce English whilst serving at The Priory, Bishop's Waltham.
• Chad & Burkina gain independence from French,

• Benin, formerly known as Dahomey, gains Independence.

• Madagscar gains Independence from France.
1961   • Independence for Tanganyika

• Rugby introduced at The Priory by Fr Moloney.
1962 • Golden Jubilee year.

• Two students ( Charlie Bingham and Paul Tait) spend their Spiritual Year in Gap (in the French Hautes-Alpes). Gap was a French diocesan seminary, to which WF students were sent until its demise in 1970.

Maurice Billingsley writes : " It had been a diocesan seminary, but was always too big for one of the smallest French dioceses in terms of population. The bishop who built it was a native of the diocese, full of local patriotism! A later bishop had abandoned the idea some years before, so was glad to have us around.

The place was Spartan, though who noticed that after the Priory? Dick Kinlen did, when he visited some years later, describing it as a little bit of Africa in the Alps! Up the road, the former junior seminary was converted into an old priests' home. "

• On October 18, Pope Paul VI canonised the 22 Catholic martyrs during the Vatican II.
• Second Vatican Council opened by Pope John XX111 - ends 8/12/1962

• Independence for Uganda, Algeria & Burindi.

1963 • 2nd November : Fire St Columba's; students moved to Danby Hall, Yorkshire.

• Death of Peter McKenzie, drowned in Lough MacNean, Blacklion.

• Fr Owen McCoy WF appointed Bishop of Oyo, Nigeria.

• Work starts on building a new parish church at Heston.
• John F Kennedy assassinated (Nov 22nd).

• Pope John XXIII dies, succeeded by Pope Paul VI.

• Archbishop Heenan appointed Archbishop of Westminster

• Independence for Kenya.

• Northern Rhodesia became the republic of Zambia (31st December)
1964 • Death of Fr Arthur Prentice WF (the first English White father), 7th July, age 92. • Harold Wilson wins the Election.

• First manned landing on the moon by Apollo 11 mission.

• Independence for Zambia & Malawi.

• Zanzibar and Tanganyika unite, to become Tanzania.
1965 • Bishop Joseph Blomjous, M. Afr. appointed
Titular Bishop of Cabarsussi, Tanzania

• Fr Moreton dies 26th January, aged 61 years, and is buried at The Priory
• Ian Smith declares UDI for Rhodesia.

• "The Lark" by Jean Anouilh performed at The Priory.
1966 • Danby Hall closed as Junior Seminary.

• Ratho opened as a hostel for junior seminarians attending Scotus Academy (Edinburgh).

• Fr Patrick Shanahan ordained.
• England win World Cup 4-2 (Germany).

• Botswana gains Independence fromBritain.
1967 • The Priory, Bishop's Waltham, is closed.

• Woodford House, St John's College, Southsea, Hampshire acts as boarding house for students attending St John's College.
• Latin mass said in the venacular for the first time.

• Lesotho gains Independence from Britain.
1968 • St Edward's, Totteridge, closed for Theology—continued to be taught at the Missionary Institute, London—and is used as a place of residence for Missionary Institute students.

• Oak Lodge (Totteridge) ceases as House of Philosophy—students taught at the Missionary Institute, London.

Maurice Billingsley writes (Jan 2010) :"Totteridge was part of MIL; Fr Gerry Rathe and others had offices at Oak Lodge; in early days lectures were held there or at St Joseph's, Mill Hill. Later they were held at the MIL's own premises. The old St Edward's was demolished, no lectures at the new house, which was what closed whenever it was recently."
• Robert Kennedy assassinnated (June 5th).

Swaziland gains Independence from Britain.
1969 • 100th Anniversary of the Society.

• Brother Peter Biewer murdered Nyegezi (Mwanza diocese of Tanzania).

• Ratho opened as a hostel for junior seminarians attending St David's School, Dalkeith.

• Closure of St Boswell's railway station.

• Novitiate ended at Broome Hall.

• Volunteer Missionary Movement founded by Edwina Gateley; volunteers followed a one month training course based at Oak Lodge, sharing some meals with the St Edward's community.
(UK HQ is now at Liverpool Hope University.   http://www.vmm.org.uk/  ).
• Start of 'The Troubles' in Northern Island.
1970 • Final year of Priory boarding at St John's College, Southsea.

• The Missionary Institute London is established.

• Gap closesdown and Fribourg (Swiss Provine) chosen for students' Spiritual Year.
•Egypt's President Nasser dies.

• WFs expelled from Mozambique
1971 • St Augustine's, Blacklion, closed— Philosophy students transferred to Oak Lodge, Totteridge. • Idi Amin takes power in Uganda, deposing Milton Obote.
1972 • Loughan House, Blacklion, is sold by the WFs to the State and opened (initially) as a Penal Institute for 16 - 21 year old boys.

Currently used to accommodate male offenders of 18 and upwards.
1973   • Britain enters the European Common Market (the European Union).
1974 • Death of Bishop Francis Walsh WF

• Death of Fr Anthony Hames WF,  very popular parish priest at Heston. (1951-1958).

• Consecration of the Parish Church at Heston. (Our Lady, Queen of Apostles).
• Bloody Sunday in Derry.
1975   • Angola became officially independent, 11th November.

• Comoros gains Independence from France.
1976 • Ratho takes on role as Promotions and Vocations Centre. • Western Sahara, released by Spain on 28 February is immediately seized by Morocco. (Independence from Morocco not yet achieved).

• Mozambique gains Independence  from Portugal
1977   • Elvis dies (Aug 16th).

• Djibouti gains Independence from France.
1978 • Ratho closed as hostel for junior seminarians.

• Pope Paul VI dies, succeeded by John Paul 1.

• Pope John Paul 1 dies after only 34 days in office, succeeded by John Paul II.
1979   • Rhodesia renamed Zimbabwe and free elections held.

• Margaret Thatcher wins the Election.
1980 • Death of Fr Herbert Herrity WF (ordained 1954) • Martyrdom of Archbishop Romero of San Salvador.

• Pope John Paul II shot (13th May).

• President Sadat of Egypt assassinated.

• Eritrea gains Indepence from Ethiopia.

• Marriage of Prince Charles and Diana.

1982 • Ratho's role as Promotions and Vocations Centre closed.

• Fr John McNulty's Golden Jubilee celebrated at St Patrick's, Shieldmuir.
• First UK visit by the Pope.
1987 • Death of John Enos Heath (known affectionately as 'Ted Heath') choirmaster and organist for 41 years at The Priory.  
1988 • Death of Bishop McCoy WF.  
1990 • Death of Sean Hughes, Labout MP, who studied at The Priory in the sixties. • Nelson Mandela released 11th February after 27 years inprisonment.

• Namibia gains Indepence from Sout Africa.
1991 • Fr Michael Fitzgerald WF appointed titular Bishop of Nafta, Tunisia.  
1992 • Eugene MacBride and Jarlath Hynes launch 'The Pelicans', a fresh attempt to create a successful Association of ex-WF students and friends of the White Fathers. • Bill Clinton is elected President of the United States.

• The General Synod of the Church of England passed the Measure to allowe the ordination of women priests.
1994 • Fr Jean Chevillard WF killed whilst opening his post at Tizi-Ouzou (Algeria) 27th December.

• Fr Alain Dieulangard WF killed in the mission courtyard  at Tizi-Ouzou, 27th December.

• Fr Charles Deckers WF, parish priest of Notre Dame d'Afrique, was visiting Tizi-Ouzou for Jean Chevillard's patronal feast; minutes after his arrival he was shot, 27th December 1994.

• Christian Chessel  WF, priest, engineer, librarian, member of the Ribat-es-Salaam. Shot at Tizi-Ouzou , 27th December 1994.

(These murders were committed as revenge for the deaths of four hijackers in Marseilles).
•Nelson Mandela becomes President of South Africa—the end of white minority rule.

• The Queen and President Mitterand officially open the Channel Tunnel.

• Genocide in Rwanda.

• John Smith, leader of the Labour Party, dies suddenly of a heart attack and Tony Blair takes over his role.
1995 • Death of Bishop James Holmes-Siedle WF, 22nd May.  
1997   • Tony Blair wins the Election.

• Death of Princess Diana.
1998 • Blessing of the new Parish Church at Bishop's Waltham, built on what was once the tennis court area of The Priory.

The Pelicans attend the blessing of the church.
2000 • Jarlath Hynes, co-founderof The Pelicans with Eugene MacBride, dies 8th March.  
2002 • Bishop Michael Fitzgerald WF appointed Archbishop on becoming President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.  
2003 Death of Brother Paddy, 28th May. • Death of Idi Amin, former dictator of Uganda.

• Concorde's last flight.
2004   • Death of John Peel, broadcaster.

• In Madrid, more than 200 people die when bombs planted by Al-Qaeda terrorists devastate commuter trains.
2005 • Fr Charles de Foucault beatified. • Pope John Paul II dies and is succeeded by Benedict XVI.

• Gordon Brown takes over as Prime Minister.
2006 • Theology moves to Tangaza College, Nairobi, Kenya. Student accommodation ceases at St Edward's, Totteridge.

• Eugene MacBride, co-founder of The Pelicans, dies age 69.
• Michael Fitzgerald appointed Nuncio to Egypt.
2008 • The Pelicans hold a reunion at St Boswell's.  
2009 • Zelda MacBride, widow of Eugene, dies age 69.  
2025 • Last man to turn out the lights . . .  

(source: Michael Goodstadt)

Monsignor Laurian Rugambwa, the First African Cardinal

The Cardinal-elect was born at Bukongo, in the diocese of Bukoba [Tanzania] and was baptised when he was nine years old. His mother was the daughter of the head of one of the ruling families which had held their lands since before the eighteenth century. His father was of noble stock, who had long served these rulers.

The new Cardinal is tall and slender, resembling in his height and build the royal princes of neighbouring Ruanda.

He was educated at Katigondo and made some studies at Rome subsequent to his ordination. He had done parochial work in his own country, and was selected by the Holy See as first Vicar Apostolic of Rutabo.

In his strong Faith he is characteristic of his deeply Catholic people.

The new Cardinal is distinguished by many gifts. This creation will bring great happiness to the African peoples throughout the Continent. It is indeed most suitable that the first African Cardinal should be an alumnus of Katigondo, for no missionaries have done more than the White Fathers to build up that African secular priesthood which has now received the supreme honour of a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church.

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