Archbishop Vincent Nichols has marked the 75th anniversary of the Red Box through which the Catholics of England and Wales have supported the missionary activity of the Church.
On September 6 he met Fr Anthony Chantry, the general superior of the Mill Hill Missionaries, Fr Bernard Phelan MHM, the regional superior of the Mill Hill Missionaries, Canon James Cronin, the new Missio national director and Mgr John Dale, the outgoing Missio national director.
Archbishop Nichols said on behalf of the bishops’ conference: “All the bishops of England and Wales recall with pride the decision made by our predecessors 75 years ago to unite the parish-based activities of the APF and Mill Hill Missionaries.
“The bishops warmly endorse the contribution made to the life of the local Church by these two societies through their constant and forthright proclamation of Christ’s universal mission to teach the Good News to all peoples and to serve the poor. This steady and diligent work on the part of APF and Mill Hill enables Catholics to live out their own missionary vocation and to take an active part in the universal mission of the Church.”
Canon Cronin said: “In St John’s Gospel some Greeks came to St Philip with a simple request: ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ There are many across the world who still say: ‘We wish to see Jesus.’ I have recently had the opportunity of visiting places where the Church is very young and still growing, where Red Box help is vital in building the visible and tangible presence of the Church. It has been a great joy to see that in those places the faith is strong and Church members such lively witnesses.”
Today the Red Box, unique to England and Wales, is present in more than 200,000 homes. Thanks to the generosity of so many people in 2010 the Catholics of England and Wales contributed more than £3m to 39 dioceses in countries such as Pakistan, South Africa and Zimbabwe and to Mill Hill’s work with the poor in 27 countries.
In order to mark the 75th anniversary of missionary cooperation, Masses of Thanksgiving are being celebrated in each diocese in England and Wales during 2011.