Rev. Fr. Michael Corcoran is 57, is Irish, and was born and baptised on 7th March 1960 in Kilkenny, Ireland. He responded to a missionary call and went to our MHM minor seminary St. Joseph’s College, Freshford , Ireland (1973 to 1978) . This was followed by major missionary formation in Roosendaal, the Netherlands, and then in St Joseph’s College, Mill Hill, London, where he made his Perpetual Missionary Commitment on 29th January 1985 and was subsequently ordained priest 18th August 1985 in Galmoy, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland, and was appointed to Soroti, Diocese. Uganda. He continued to serve in East Aftrica in the following years, including being Vocations Director and Regional, and was elected to the General Council in 2005, with special responsibility for our missions in Africa. Having completed his five year term, he was later elected MHM Regional in Ireland and President of the Irish Missionary Union which he is still at the time of his election as General Superior of our Society.
He was elected 12th General Superior of the Mill Hill Missionaries on Monday 15th June 2015.
To Mill Hill Students in Cameroon: Travelling companions – what does that mean?
To use a phrase from Pope Francis, all of us are called to wake up the world. How do we do this?
By living and communicating the message of Jesus Christ. Our Missionary way of life is part of that communication of the Word, of how our humanity was saved through God’s loving action and how the way we live our humanity must reflect the loving kindness of God. Our life is missionary and our formation should not be oriented only towards personal growth but also how we are to care for God’s people. Hopefully our formation is not only to produce administrators or managers but people who are brothers and sisters and – ‘travelling companions’.
Travelling companions – what does that mean? We missionaries are called to a prophetic life. We must more than ever speak to people through our lives – called to be prophets by demonstrating how Jesus lived on earth. We are called to light the way to the future and walk with others on that way. Our Missionary life is not an end in itself, but a service to God’s people on their journey.
I have written this in my messages in our Central Newsletters that waking up the world is not making news headlines – it always involves encounter and personal contact. It is about being alongside the men and women of our times in their own struggles in life and especially those who are on the periphery of society. As I said yesterday that periphery does not always refer to geographical or economic peripheries of Society – though this is also vital – but of the profound peripheries of alienation and hopelessness and suffering and search for meaning that exists among the men and women of our time. We are to be travelling companions who journey with others step by step in their search, not lecturers or moralisers who simply tell other people where they should be.
Missionary life is not just about doing things. It is about doing things in a different way. It is about witness and attraction. We must never tire of this. We are called to live life authentically in whatever circumstances we find ourselves in – our life is a never –ending challenge irrespective of increased age or numbers.
vital thing that we missionaries can do is pray- not just pray for someone but show what prayer means in a world where doing and having possessions seem to be the sole order of the day. Your life of prayer is also a prophecy. It is witnessing to the mystery of God’s presence among us. It is witnessing to the fact that God cares, that God loves, that God reaches out to us, even if his ways are mysterious. We have to learn to share our prayer life with others and guide people in prayer. This cannot be privatised. Your prayer is a service for the whole church and cannot be enclosed within the walls of your chapel.
Wake up the world – Pope Francis has a great gift of characteristically simple and striking language. His language is earthy: it is not earthy for our entertainment, but it is profoundly provocative and challenging. Perhaps my favourite comment of Pope Francis in his meeting with religious superiors, was when he said: our life is not a bottle of distilled water. Again what does this mean?
It means that we do not need a missionary life that is crystal clear, tasteless, insipid and safe. Our Missionary way of life must make noise, uproar and even a mess.
They are the Pope’s words and I like them. Noise and uproar and and making a mess were and in some cases still not on high on the instruction list of Formators. Those in formation were taught not to stand out, formed in conformity. Our charism as missionaries is not one of conformity. It is like yeast which even when you are not aware is always causing ferment and changing and developing. This is what the prophecy of missionary life is like. That is what the great missionaries were always like.
God called each one of us by name and still challenges us by name to respond and to find in our commitment to Jesus the fullness of our humanity. We need renewal in the Church. The Church will never renew by looking inwards. We can never be just and inward looking Society preoccupied by our own challenges. The moment we become over concerned with our inward challenges the more we will actually become more inward looking and never the out going reflection of the challenging and prophetic message of Jesus who cares.
Let us become more travelling companions seeking to live our Christian life more authentically and with renewed enthusiasm. May the Lord be our travelling companion and our guide as we reflect on the word and break the bread of communion.
Amare et Servire.
21st January 2017
Easter 2018: Message from the General Superior
As I write this message, I have just read the feasibility study undertaken by the Society as to the future of a Mill Hill Formation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and our mission to the Diocese of Basankusu. The Diocese of Basankusu can be considered – to speak in Pope Francis’ terms – as the periphery of peripheries. In terms of mission, as expressed by our founder, it falls into the category of ‘the most needy’. Whatever the future brings as a Mill Hill Society, no matter what we are doing in the world, we are called to use great discernment and consideration of the situations in which the peoples we are working with find themselves in and in planning the way forward for our Mill Hill Society.
Many of us work with the ‘poor’ on a daily basis. We may think of the poor simply as the beneficiaries of our ministry, or of impromptu acts of generosity that ease the conscience. However good and useful such acts may be for making us sensitive to people’s needs and the injustices that are often their cause, they ought to lead to true encounter with the poor and a sharing that becomes a way of life. If we truly wish to encounter Christ in our journey of discipleship, we have to touch his body in the suffering bodies of the poor. As we break bread together in our Eucharistic celebrations we cannot neglect the other Christ suffering in the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters. We are called, then, to draw near to the poor, to encounter them, to meet their gaze, to embrace them and to let them feel the warmth of love that breaks through their solitude. Their outstretched hand which is such a familiar sight in our world today is an invitation to step out of our certainties and comforts.
In my visitations to the membership of the Society and those we collaborate with, I have time and again experienced your witness and the good you do every day amid many challenges and often few consolations. I want to encourage you. Do not be afraid of the burdens of your daily service and the difficult circumstances some of you must endure. This demands believing, witnessing to the truth, sowing and cultivating without waiting for the harvest. In fact, we reap the fruits of so many others, who have generously worked in the Lord’s vineyard. Our Mill Hill history is filled with such people as I witnessed on a recent visit to New Zealand where I was greatly encouraged by the immense contribution Mill Hill has made especially to the Maori mission now carried on by another generation of Church personnel including some coming from the Pacific Islands, Fiji, Samoa and the Philippines.
Although there are many reasons to be discouraged, amid many prophets of destruction and condemnation, and so many negative and despairing voices, may you continue to be a positive force, salt and light for the peoples entrusted to your care. May you be sowers of hope, builders of bridges and agents of dialogue and harmony. Complaining constantly, gossip and envy, comparing ourselves to others, individualism, walking without destination or direction can militate against this great journey of discipleship we have undertaken as Mill Hill Missionaries.
Des, Andrew and Jimmy join me in wishing you a spirit filled Lenten season.
Michael Corcoran, MHM