—Says Mgr. Telford
In his sermon on the centenary of the A.P.F., preached in Westminster Cathedral on Sunday morning, Mgr. Telford, National Director of the A.P.F., stressed the fact that despite the vast numbers in the world who had not received the light of the Faith, the task was not hopeless. " The Church can and will convert the pagan world," he said.
" Only a quarter of the Catholics in England belong to the A.P.F.," be announced.
Taking as his text the words If Launch out into the deep," from the Gospel of the day, Mgr. Telford said : " The priest who is celebrating the Mass fur you to-day comes from the other side of the world. He is different in race from you, he is different in colour. He is one of the 400 million souls in the world who arc Catholics, he is the living illustration of the Missionary Church to which you and I belong."
The Church, he went on, is Mieeionary because of the direct commands of Our Lord.
Referring to the beginning of the Society, whose centenary was being kept, Mgr. Telford recalled briefly the early beginnings, reminding his audience that the movement was begun by a poor working girl in France who gathered her fellow mill hands into a society who should pay a copper a week and say a prayer each day for the missionary work of the Church.
"A hundred years ago," he said, " a handful of noble souls in England, realising that if you are a Catholic you must think of the whole world joined together, promised the copper a week and the prayer a day."
From 1839 the work progressed but slowly, because England was busy rebuilding a church that had been destroyed, but progress was made.
The next great step forward in the history of England's work for the nitseions was the foundation of the Mill Hill Missionary Society by Cardinal Yaughan.
" If there is anything which we Catholics in England can glory in with regard to our effort for the missions it is this."
Through this English foundation hundreds of priests had gone out from England to help in the mission field. Last year the Cardinal in that very Cathedral had ordained 45 men who would take their place in the missions.
"Though England has done much for the missions the average Catholic in this country is not missionminded," he declared.
Mgr. Telford then recalled one of the last public addresses of the late Holy Father.
" He was even then a dying man, and with almost prophetic assurance in spite of the then dark days foresaw, speaking to the National Directors of the A.P.F., a shining future for the world in the conversion of the pagan."
"Has it never occurred to you," continued Mgr. Telford, " that it is strange that after 2,000 years so little of the World is Catholic.
" If it has, then we must reflect that It is we who have to be the convertmakers in this world, we are entrusted by Christ with the Mission.
" None of us will live to see the next centenary of this work in our country, but what the next centenary will show will depend largely on us."