S1R,—Mr. Bourdillon's letter in your issue a June 24 concerns a matter of great importance: the organisation of lay volunteers for the Missions abroad. In France and Belgium this has long ago been achieved, even Government support being provided. Professional men and women guarantee to devote at least a few years, after practical training in their own country, to helping the missionaries with their piofessional knowledge. That doctors and nurses arc badly needed goes without saying, and in comparison with Protestant efforts ours are sadly deficient. Trained teachers, too, are much in demand, while many a missionary Bishop or Superior would, no doubt, welcome experienced workers on the land. Our Jesuit mission of S. Rhodesia recently made, in your columns, an appeal for such workers, and offers poured in from all over the British Isles, India, Canada, U.S.A. and Egypt. Doctors, nurses, graduates of various Universities, experienced workers on the land and trained teachers showed a fine readiness to give life-service and accept hard conditions. Most unfortunately there was in most cases one obstacle or another to the Bishop's acceptance of them in our particular Mission.
This is where Mr. Bourdillon's letter opens up the important question as to what can be done to enable the volunteers to give their services to other Missions where needs and conditions may differ. Any suggestions as to a practical programme for the bureau of information or organisation proposed in the letter would surely be well worth publishing. Possibly some definite building could in time be obtained where volunteers might meet periodically to learn about and discuss Mission needs in detail, correspond with missionary Bishops and Superiors, even (to test earnestness) give voluntary professional service to slum-areas where no conflict would arise with existing arrangements. until an opening was found for their service abroad.
Volunteers should, obviously, bear in mind that a genuine spirit of self-sacrifice is necessary, that, e.g., a salary should not be expected nearly as high as could be obtained elsewhere, that they would probably be expected to pay for their own passage out, and that a hard, often very lonely, life awaits them.
The writer would gladly lend what little support might be possible in such a grand venture.
G. BINNS, S.J.
Assistant Procurator, Brit. Guiana and S. Rhodesia. 31, Farm Street, London, W.1.