Without the dedication of our amazing Local Secretaries, Missio simply could not do what we do. Over the coming months, we’ll be paying tribute to individuals who have shared their stories and thoughts with us.

Hugh from St Michael’s Parish, Houghton-le-Spring, in Hexham and Newcastle Diocese, has been volunteering with the Mill Hill Missionaries and Missio for 50 years – and a Local Secretary for more than 40 of those! So when he recently retired it was only fitting that he received a proper tribute. Fr Emmanuel Nuh Mbeh MHM sent us this account of a special Mass.

Hugh contacted Missio to tell us that he was getting on in years and no longer able to do the work of Local Secretary in the parish. He wanted to step back for someone else to carry on.

So on Sunday 4 July, when Fr Dermot Byrne (the British Regional of the Mill Hill Missionaries) and I celebrated Mass at St Michael’s Parish in Newcastle, it was the perfect opportunity to thank Hugh properly for his amazing service to the missions.

A missionary church

St Michael’s Church is very missionary in appearance, in words and in deeds.  There is a RedBox in the sacristy – not idle or abandoned, but filling up and seeminglykept there as a reminder.  The parish Deacon proudly mentioned that St Michael’s is sometimes “top of the league table” with annual Red Box collection!

Fr Dermot preached about Mission – how the Gospel touches and transforms each of us and the love of God in Jesus compels and propels us to tell and treat others kindly and lovingly.  He spoke about Cardinal Vaughan (the founder of the Mill Hill Missionaries) and his missionary passion and vision.  He told his own story: thathe always wanted to do parish work but was sent to teach in the seminary in Uganda. Now the students he taught are in active parish work in different countries. He suggested that many Red Box holders, Local Secretaries or volunteers may feel like him, that they are far from the mission they desired to reach. But, as St Therese teaches us, they are actually missionaries in their daily and parish activities of prayers, donations, voluntary services and collaboration, even if not teaching.

Celebrating Hugh

Fr Dermot shared how grateful Missio and the Mill Hill Missionaries are for all the indispensable Red Box work without which he and many others wouldn’t have been trained or helped in their formation, mission or ministries.

We presented Hugh with an award certificate and a gold medal, signed by the Cardinal, the Mill Hill Superior and the Missio National Director. Fr Dermot noted that the presentationmight be both overwhelming and embarrassing, but that like his work over the past50 years, Hugh shared this milestone with the whole parish and not least with his beloved wife, Margaret.

We were delighted to be able to celebrate this Mass as a‘thank you’ to both Hugh and the parish. We know that Hugh is perhaps not at his most comfortable in the limelight. But his service to the missions can’t go unnoticed or un-thanked. When asked for comment on his time as a Local Secretary, Hugh said simply:

“Whatever you are giving to the missions you are giving to the Lord.”

We thank the Lord of the harvest for the call and grace for each of us to love, to serve, to give and to share!

Volunteer with Missio

Interested in joining our 2,500-strong Local Secretary family? You can find all our information on this and all the different ways to volunteer with us here>>

There are lots of different ways to become involved as a volunteer, and you can choose depending on how much time you have and what your calling is. At every level, we will always support and guide you, and be there to answer any questions.