Today is – at least at the London Oratory – Missions Sunday; and there was a preacher from the Mill Hill Fathers who preached a spritely homily on the needs of the Missions, and of the merits of supporting them . . . and let me make it quite clear, at once, that I fully support the concept of us supporting the Missions.
However; increasingly I think we have to recognize that many of the Missions are now better positioned, at least in terms of people, than are many Parishes in the UK. This morning’s preacher, for instance, was talking about his time at a University Chaplaincy in Cameroon . . . and happened to mention that they averaged a fairly steady number at the daily (Monday – Saturday) Morning Prayers and Mass at 06:30 . . . and a fairly consistent, and slightly higher, number for Evening Prayers at 18:30.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m sure that there are many UK Chaplains who could make much the same comment . . . except that this University in Cameroon had an average of between 550 – 600 each morning, and perhaps 650 each evening.
Is there any UK University which has that sort of figure attending Mass each day, let alone other services ?
Of course we must support the Missions; but we must also remember that we have an ever-increasing need to act as missionaries to the people of our own country . . . a truth which not only must we not forget, but which we must also ensure that the Church as a whole does not lose sight of : an aim which we must pray for, but also work for.