EDITED BY KEVIN MAYHEW
TWO of the most popular people on Fr. Agnel lus Andrews' broadcasting course at Hatch End last week were a Belgian priest who has been a missionary in the Philippines this past seven years and a Sierra Leonean who is the first member of his tribe to become a priest.
Next month the Belgian, Fr. Hugh Delbaerre, will open the Mountain Province Broadcasting Corporation to beam educational, news, household hints, farming and health programmes to the four million people deep in the interior of Luzon Island in the Philippines. Cut off by mountains, lack of bridges and roads, they still live off the land, while the rest of the Philippines has gone so commercial that it's sometimes called the "U.S. of the Pacific". Their only contact with the outside world is by transistor radio.
Fr. Delbaerre says there are 144 radio stations in the Island, but most are tiny I Kwt. affairs. They play a pop record, then a commercial, another record and perhaps a quick reading of headlines from a two day old newspaper. In contrast, the Mountain Province Broadcasting Corporation will beam its informative programmes from morning to night on long, short and medium wavebands.
The Sierra Leone priest, Fr. Joseph Ganda, stopped off to take the course on his way to Rome where he hopes to study sociology for a year. Transistor radios are important in his country too, he told me. Every family has at least one.
His parish is 80 miles wide. He spends much of his time walking from one town to another. Unlike the missionaries from Ireland and Italy, however, he does not have to carry camping gear on his back, because "I am a native priest". His Mendi tribesmen. welcome him into their homes.
"It is a very tough job being the first priest in a country," he says. "They never thought a black man would become a priest, but I broke that shell. Now the way I do things will make a big difference whether or not others will become priests too."
The son of a teacher in a Catholic mission, Fr. Ganda wanted to become a priest for as long as he can remember. As a child he used to play priest at a make believe altar. "We pretended to say Latin." Now his chief advantage over a missionary is that when he visits his people "I can speak as they speak."
Prevention is the answer
FR. AGNELLUS by the way, steps out of his normal role on Sunday (August 14) when he makes an appeal on the Home Service for the Hope Housing Association. This is a new venture — an extension of the work of the Catholic Prisoners' Social Service.
The aim of the Association is to buy houses which can be converted into flats where the dependants of men in prison can be housed at special rents.
As Fr. Agnellus will point out in his broadcast: "It is the family who suffers the humiliation of the neighbour's pointing finger: the wife who suffers becau,sa she can no longer feed or clothe the children, who is left to cope with all the debts, the problems of accommodation and in many cases the final eviction."
And Hope Housing have another plan—a shortterm hostel whore a man just out of prison can stay while preliminary inquiries to ensure that the right job and long-term accommodation are under way.
The only way to prevent crime, thinks the Catholie Prisoners' Social Service, is to turn the criminal into a useful citizen and they think Hope Housing will contribute towards this.
ONE of the easiest ways of getting out of estab lishing a parish council is to say: "The people are just not interested" and leave it at that. So all the more praise to Fr. Gerard Langley of Swaffham in Norfolk for really trying.
In his August newsletter to the parish he has this to say: "You have been reluctant to give me your ideas and opinions about the parish and its organisation; in fact it has been very little your fault. It has been the result of the type of growth of the Church in England since the Reformation."
Fr. Langley goes on to explain that by an accident of history the priest has come to assume the role of "absolute ruler" of the parish. Now, he says, "Vatican II has jerked us all out of this state of mind, and both priest and layfolk are to share their ideas and opinions."
And as a start, Fr. Langley has formed a large, general committee with four sub-committees for Liturgy, Finance, Fabric, and Social Activities.
"From each of these sub-committees," he says, "I'd want to choose one member who would help me in the overall direction of the parish."