Nine White Fathers were killed or mortally wounded in the Battle of France in 1940 and 29 aspirant missionaries with two of their professors are now in an internment camp in occupied France, the Very Rev. Henry Cote, Provincial Superior, reports in a message to friends of the Order in Canada and the United States.
Pointing out that the missionaries were able to administer 218,386 baptisms in the past year in Africa—" bringing the total of our Christians to 1,587,558 "—besides opening some new stations, Fr. Cote adds: " We must admit, however, that this is a result of the work of previous years rather than the effect of last year's effort, for the war has affected our missions still more than we had tried to foresee a year ago.
" The complete mobilisation of the French Army took away hundreds of missionaries from their fielfd of work. A certain number of them were freed after the Armistice; but, alas is is now ascertained that nine missionaries, in the prime of youth, were killed or mortally wounded in the horrible battles of the month of June. We have not yet been able to learn the exact number of those missing or prisoners of war. Moreover. some are still with their regiments in Syria or North Africa.
ENGLISH STUDENTS REMAIN IN NORTH AFRICA " The Invasion of Holland was so rapid that none of our Dutch missionaries could flee, while several Belgian young priests were able to escape on bicycles and reach the South of France after dodging bombs and ,machine-gun fire, As for our English young priests, they are still unable to leave North Africa.. in fact our Canadian missionaries were the only ones to prepare for the missions under normal conditions.
" No financial help has been coming to the missions from European countries during the year," Fr. Cote goes on. " Moreover. in some cases, money sent from Rome has failed to reach its destination. Such was the case of the Vicar Apostolic of Navrougo who has appealed to us in his distress. In every Vicariate missionaries are making great sacrifices in order to carry on their work : they do without flour, sugar and tea ; they travel on foot or on bicycles so as to keep their schools and catechumenate going. . . Several Vicars Anostolic, however, have had to Close schools and pay off catechists, through lack of funds,"