1961 - Moving Beyond Africa

The 1960s saw Kiltegan Missionaries take on their first assignment outside Africa: they went to Brazil, to a people with a long tradition of Christianity but a short supply of priests. In response to Pope John XXIII's pleas for priests in Latin America, the Kiltegan priests went to assist in Sao Paulo (then the world's fastest-growing city and still the world's most populous diocese) and later in other Brazilian dioceses. Their primary work was with the lonely, poverty-stricken people of the shanty towns; firm bonds of friendship were soon forged in a land where community action is a feature of Christian living.

 

In Nigeria, Kiltegan missionaries took on a much different type of assignment when they accepted responsibility for Minna, a largely Muslim area in the North of the country.

 

Meanwhile there were big changes in the number of vocations at Kiltegan. In the early 1960s there was an all time high but by the close of the decade this had dropped considerably. Yet, there was every reason for hope: in Buchlyvie, the House of Studies for Late Vocations had got off to a promising start and there were 300 priests in the Society. Most important of all though, was the fact that there was an ever-increasing number of vocations in Nigeria and Kenya; this meant that some priests might be spared to serve in places where needs were greater.

 

The Kiltegan Fathers went to Grenada, in the West Indies, in 1970. The beautiful Island-country is one of the world’s smallest nations in terms of area and population. In this land of Christian traditions, but only a handful of priests, the priorities were the apostolate of the family, the training of lay leaders and the forming of young Christians.

 

Also in 1970, Kiltegan priests went to Malawi, in Central Africa. And three years later the Society was able to accept the invitation to serve in neighbouring Zambia. The work in these two countries was similar to that in Nigeria and Kenya. In some places it meant a first-time presentation of Jesus Christ and the Church; it meant ministering in many sub-parishes and small Christian communities; it meant teaching; it meant involvement in practical social matters and a hundred-and-one other things.

 

There had always been diocesan volunteer priests working in partnership with St. Patrick's missionaries. Their 'movement' received a welcome boost in 1970s when some Irish dioceses committed themselves officially to sending a certain number of priests ‘on mission’.

 

Kiltegan priests no longer able to work abroad now had new opportunities of offering useful service to the Church - they were accommodated on the home front, some of them in exchange for the diocesan priests "on mission".

 

In 1983, as the number of priests in Sudan continued to decline, Kiltegan undertook a new mission in the country's southern region.

 

The Society continued to receive requests from various dioceses throughout the world where priests were in short supply. In January 1989, Kiltegan priests began work in three more countries. Three went to Cameroon, four to Zimbabwe and six to South Africa. These commitments brought to ten the number of countries St. Patrick's priests and students work. The Society has travelled a long way from the Southern Nigeria of Fr. Pat Whitney and his companions. Yet, each new venture has been undertaken in the spirit of the 1932 mission to Southern Nigeria.

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