Page 4, 20th June 1952

20th June 1952
Page 4
Page 4, 20th June 1952 — In a Few Words

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Organisations: Algerian mission
People: de la Garde
Locations: Algiers, Marseilles, Rome


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In Africa

NOTHING could be more surprising than to find oneself from one week to the next and entirely unexpectedly writing "Jotter" notes on the sands near Algiers while dozens of young natives bathe and disport themselves all around one. A few hundred yards away is the mother house of the White Fathers, where the Chairman of this paper and myself are staying for a few days. We hope to have the opportunity 'of visiting some of the Algerian mission stations in Kabylia and on the edge of the Sahara, if only to be photographed, not entirely in tourist style, on a camel, so picturesquely drawn on the scenic maps provided gratis by Air France.

White Fathers' mother house

THE White Fathers' mother house at Maison Carrie, with its memories of Cardinal Lavigerie and indeed all the apostolic and romantic history of the Society he founded to convert Africa, is being given up in the summer in favour of more centrally situated Rome. This in fact is the explanation of our own hasty visit before the high summer heats set in. Mgr. Durricu, the SuperiorGeneral, is our host, though, alas, his episcopal work leaves him little time to he at home. But, needless to say. the Fathers around him are hospitality itself, and to be here talking to them even for a few days is an education in modern missionary problems and experience about which I hope to write more at length on other occasions.


OUR hurried air journey left us time for a few hours in Marseilles, where we made acquaintance with an enormous and most friendly green cricket in the bus from the aerodrome—and later on with the work of the Priest-workers near the docks. Unfortunately Pire Jacques was away working in the docks, but a visiting Dominican, in shirt and trousers, was at home in the charming little workman's house. and told us all about the success of the experiment in breaking down the deeprooted opposition between the wor kers and the priests. Certainly he was surrounded by children for whom the house was clearly a home from home. One of them had been forbidden by his father to continue the catechism class, but as the Dominican Father pointed out. the friendly relations now being made gave some assurance that the boy would never feel as bitter as his father.

We hope we did our little bit along the same lines when a delightful dark little girl of about 8 sidled up and asked for a ride in our taxi. Heaven in the form of a ride round the block came to her, to judge by the smile of contentment with which she left us.

Dock parish

TN Marseilles you have the relaItively conservative experiment of the established dock parish (Ste. Trophine) being converted into a priest.worker parish by the simple process of the priests working. Religious life, catechitical instruction. etc., go on in the church, while the clergy live exactly like the people in a house of the same class as they. Among other things, they are very careful not to have any domestic help. even for cooking, as that would establish a different standard of life. Their wages, of course, become a main source of parish income, and the casual nature of dock labour makes possible a distribution of labour between the parish apostolate and the dock apostolate. From all I heard the experiment is a very great success, whose fullest fruits will come in after years.

Our Lady of the Mediterranean Marseilles and Algiers on I the same day enables one to put into closer perspective the beautiful devotion of what is in effect Our Lady of the Mediterranean. In Marseilles the Church of Notre Dame de la Garde towers over the city, and Our Lady's statue looks over the Château d'lf across the hundreds of miles of sea. In Algiers, Our Lady of Africa in the centre of the Napleslike Bay of Algiers looks back to Marseilles. In both churches ex-votos of pilgrims and sailors. the latter in the shape of model boats, hang in thanksgiving. Particularly touching in Notre Dame de la Garde are the children's toys hanging in the crypt. Mistaken eating tactics T WOULD have done better to de vote vote my journey entirely to spiritual activities; but our taxi-man took us for lunch to a unique restaurant that ,is built over the sea next to a charming inlet. Below the restaurant you can choose the fish you prefer for lunch. It might have been wiser to do that. Instead, we felt obliged to sample the famous local dish, the Brilliaboisse. I am not, I hope, libelling Marseilles cooking when I presume that a swimmer with a sort of underwater gun, swimming about at our feet, provides the contents of the dish. Anyhow, you are presented with a huge bowl of saffron-coloured soup and another dish covered with a variety of fish, not a few of which look like vermin of the sea who happened to be unfortunate enough to come within the swimmer's range. I ate largely of the dishes. determined to be as courageous as the natives— and with wholly disastrous results. Happily the flight from Marseilles to Algiers was completely steady else I might not have lived to tell the tale. Indeed, I am not wholly recovered yet.

For the moment local colour is confined to a large mosquito-net which envelopes my bed, though no mosquitoes have arrived to add realism to it. It is warm. but by no means intolerably so, and "mad dogs and Englishmen" are still safe in the midday sun. By next week 1 hope to have sampled Sahara nights, oases and camels. I should, however, add that local smells are very powerful in the native city around which we were given a very thorough tour by the White Fathers who live on its edge in a delightful Arab house, doing magnificent social work. And if anyone in Britain feels indignant about the housing problem. I can only advise a tour in this area where 80,000 prolific souls are huddled together in a few acres. Looking at their bright-faced, happy children playing in the narrow lanes where one house will actually touch the opposite one at first-floor level. the thought struck me that the mystery of the prodigality of creation could only be answered in the simplest fashion of just saying that God wanted lots and lots of children in Paradise, and that these little chaps will somehow slip in by a back door as children even if they have to grow up meantime in this world.


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