Reviews Mission Fathers in English

About Mission Fathers, a family history:

In 1933, my grandfather boarded a boat full of Catholic missionaries and missionary sisters heading for the Dutch East Indies to build several hospitals there. In 1958, my father, a tropical doctor, flew with his wife and child in a Raptim plane full of religious to Tanzania to do the same there.

Just before and after the Second World War, the Netherlands was the largest so called ‘mission country’ in the world. Of all the Catholic missionaries in the world, comparatively the most came from the Netherlands. Besides churches and schools, they built hospitals and took care of the sick and wounded.

When they all returned to the Netherlands in the 1960s, everything was different.  ‘Catholic Mission’ had become a loaded concept.

With ‘Mission Fathers’ I offer a special perspective on an underexposed page of colonial history: the heydays of the Catholic mission. My family history also tells the story of people who went out into the world with the best intentions but were overtaken by history.

In 2020 the book was nominated for the prize for the best public history book.

I took the liberty to translate a few reviews.

Rob Hartman concluded his review “Servants of Mankind” in the Dutch Newspaper NRC (Oct 11th 2019) with:

“What makes Mission Fathers such a good book is that Oomen not only describes in an empathetic and well-documented way the life paths of her grandparents and parents, but also paints a clear and convincing picture of the changing world in which they operated. This gives emboss to her family’s changing views – which sometimes went unspoken but certainly manifested themselves – and you begin to understand something of the tensions these idealists were exposed to, without tending to identify with them entirely. In addition, the author writes with great insight and sensitivity about her father’s mental illness, which is still a taboo subject.”

Gert-Jan Kleinjan ends his review “Father and son on a mission in the tropics” in Trouw (Nov 19th 2019) with:

“Oomen is detailed if necessary, and speeds up when possible. The book has no more than four main characters: her grandparents and her parents. She keeps a firm grip on those four. That is not a restriction, on the contrary. In three hundred pages, Oomen sheds light on an already almost forgotten part of the recent past, and provides a penetrating picture of what striving to improve the world can do to people.”

Dorrit van Dalen discovered an extra motive in Mission Fathers (Indies Tijdschrift, nr 1, 2021).

Read “Good Intentions”.

Leon Bijlmaker wrote a review in MTb (March, 2021), a journal for professionals in the field of international health care. Look at the last page, 24.