Report - - St. Joseph's Missionary College, Mill Hill - November 2009 | Other Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - St. Joseph's Missionary College, Mill Hill - November 2009


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This site has been a thorn in our side for quiet a while now but we finally got in and was worth the wait.


The St Joseph's Foreign Missionary Society (Mill Hill Missionaries) was founded at Mill Hill in 1866 by Father Herbert Vaughan (1832-1903). It was the first catholic missionary society to be founded in England.

Ordained at the age of 22, Vaughan determined to devote himself to missionary work. Not strong enough himself for the vigours of overseas work, he aimed to achieve this via the establishment of a missionary training college; he was encouraged in his plans by his friend Father (later Cardinal) Manning (1808-1892) and by Cardinal Wiseman (1802-1865).

In 1863 Vaughan embarked on a tour of Central and South America and of California to raise funds for the new College. A year after his return to England in 1865, he was able to rent a house in Mill Hill about ten miles north of London. Under conditions of some poverty, the house operated as the new missionary training school, that of St Joseph's Society for Foreign Missions. Following further fund raising initiated by Archbishop Manning in 1868, the building of a new college on a freehold site nearby was completed in 1871; at the time it served a community of 34 students.

Later that year, the first missionary endeavour of St Joseph's was realised. Rome assigned the evangelization of the recently freed black population of the southern states of the USA. To this end, Vaughan himself travelled to America with his first four missionary priests. This led to the successful establishment of a mission in Baltimore, out of which developed, by 1892, a separate society, that of the Josephite Fathers. In 1872 Vaughan became Bishop of Salford and left Mill Hill though he remained Superior General of the Missionary Society, a cause that was always to be close to his heart.

In 1884 St Peter's School, Freshfield, near Liverpool was founded to serve as a preparatory school to the college. Later on, branch colleges were opened at Rozendaal in Holland and at Brixen and Absam in the Austrian Tyrol. Subsequently, recruits were also drawn from Ireland and North America. The domestic needs of the College at Mill Hill were met by a group of sisters, led by Mother Mary Francis Ingham, whom Vaughan persuaded to move from their native Salford. The sisters became known as the Francisan Missionaries of St Joseph and actively participated in missionary work at many of the missions established by St Joseph's Society for Foreign Missions.

The work in India of the Mill Hill missionaries commenced in 1875, first in Madras where five priests and a medical missionary journeyed in 1875 and later in North West India, in what is now Kashmir and Pakistan. In 1881 Rajah Brooke provided land for a mission at Kuching in Borneo where work was carried on among tribal peoples. Missions were also established among the Maoris, in New Zealand, in 1886 and in the Philippines in 1906.

In 1895 a group of five Mill Hill Fathers, led by Father Henry Hanlon went out to East Africa to establish the Vicariate of the Upper Nile. Uganda, where the White Fathers had arrived in 1878, had become a British Protectorate in 1894 and an English rather than a French Catholic presence was thought desirable. The first mission station was built at Nsambya. Despite deaths from fever the work grew to spread in time around Lake Victoria and into Kenya.

Fatalities among mission staff also occurred in the Congo where the Mill Hill Fathers arrived in 1905. Despite a difficult location - the mission was entirely surrounded by jungle - the mission flourished. A prefecture was established in 1927, a vicariate followed in 1948 and a diocese in 1959. In 1921 a party of Mill Hill missionaries went to the Cameroons, taking over from a mission developed by German missionaries and where the church had been kept alive by a faithful catechist, Matthias Efiem. From 1938 to 1964 when they were expelled Mill Hill missionaries also worked in the Sudan.

Missions established in the second half of the twentieth century included: a mission to the Falklands and surrounding areas, a mission to Santiago Chile and a mission to Brazil. By 1960 there were 1,200 Mill Hill missionaries serving in four continents.

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