Mill Hill Missionary priest from Cameroon tells of special visit to Mary, a lifelong supporter of Red Box Appeal

Fr Emmanuel Mbeh is a Mill Hill Missionary from the Archdiocese of Bamenda in Cameroon. For almost four years he has been based in the northern dioceses of England and involved in Mission Masses and Red Box Appeals. He recently met Mary and her daughter, Bernadette, and wanted to share this reflection:

Mary will be 90 on 5th April this year and had heard that there were Mill Hill Missionaries ministering near her parish in Sunderland. After suffering a stroke, she has been poorly in the last few months and asked for our prayers. Her daughter Bernadette and I visited Mary a few times in Hospital, as well as in the Care Home.

Mary beams with an angelic smile every now and then. She is witty and naturally sees goodness and beauty in things and people around her: from appreciating my visits, the care from staff and family, to thanking me for the prayers and daring to ask, ‘Will you bury me when I die, please?’

Mary’s life of Mission

She has lovely stories of her work for Missio. Mary effortlessly recalls the joy of being a Red Box promoter in her parish for many years; celebrating the social, the spiritual and the missionary dimension of the Red Box activities in her parish. From the smile and benevolence on her face, you can almost picture how in her parish the Red Boxes became Mary’s Boxes – and everyone knew that.

Mary reminds me of the appreciation, prayers, and service we owe all our Missio volunteers and ‘Friends of Mill Hill’ around the world – those who are aging or ailing, or already gone to their rest. She reminds me of the reward, the treasure, the prize that we all look forward to. And that, when we toil and labour for the Kingdom, for the Mission of the Church, for the Salvation of souls, we alleviate the suffering of others.

Mary’s and many others’ Red Boxes remind me of our own Mill Hill Missionary red sash – the sacrifice, selfless love, charity, and sweet suffering that is the offering to and for God. May our prayers and charity console and accompany us in this life and into eternity.

Happy Birthday Mary.  Prayers, blessings and best wishes from your Missio and Mill Hill Family.

A message from Mary’s daughter

Bernadette, Mary’s daughter, wrote to me:

Hello Father,

Thank you for visiting yesterday and for writing the lovely reflection. It brought tears to my eyes! Through the collecting of the Red Boxes, she became very good friends with Fr Michael O’Neil who was a missionary who celebrated lots of family occasions. Mary had six children and would often take her youngest ones with her to collect the Red Boxes. They remember these as being happy days! Thank you again, you are very kind! I appreciate all the kindness you have shown Mam. Her eyes do sparkle when she sees you. 

Join the Missio tradition of Mission!

We depend on wonderful volunteers like Mary to help us ignite God’s love and spread our message throughout the dioceses and online. If you’d like to give your time to Missio, we’d love to hear from you!

Whether you have a few minutes, a few hours, or plenty of time, find out how you can get involved here.