News

Cardinal affirms the role of Catholic women at historic national celebration

24/06/2014 2:00 pm

Archbishop Nichols at Parliament Reception

Cardinal Vincent Nichols has affirmed the invaluable contribution that Catholic women make to the life and mission of the Church. In a message sent to mark the 75th Anniversary of the National Board of Catholic Women (NBCW), which was celebrated at the weekend, he wrote:
 
“I wish to thank most sincerely the NBCW for its valuable contribution to the life of life of the Church in England and Wales since its formation at the invitation of Cardinal Hinsley. On the occasion of the NBCW’s Golden Jubilee, another of my predecessors, Cardinal Hume, said: ‘The Bishops’ Conference needs to hear from women about the concerns and views of women in the Church on topics which seem to women to be the most crucial or fundamental’. Twenty-five years later much has been achieved as the Board takes the lead in studying and acting upon crucial issues in our society. Pope Francis acknowledges 'the need to create still broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church' (Evangelii Gaudium, 103). Looking to the future, I am confident that the NBCW can play its part in realising the Holy Father’s vision so that the joy of the Gospel may be shared ever more widely. Once again, many congratulations and thanks to the NBCW on the occasion of its 75th Anniversary. Please be assured of my continued prayers for its mission. Please pray for me. Thank you.”
 
The Board has existed since 1939 and promotes the presence, participation and responsibilities of Catholic women in the Church and society. Around 60 women, representing womens’ organisations, dioceses and groups from across England and Wales, gathered at Newman University in Birmingham, 21-22 June to celebrate this historic landmark in the life of the organisation, and to hear updates about the breadth of members’ work at its AGM.
 
Pearl Clarke, President of the NBCW, said: “The 75th Anniversary celebrations provide a wonderful opportunity to give thanks to God for all that has been achieved through the hard work and generosity of generations of Catholic women in England and Wales. Our members are tireless in their efforts to serve the Church’s mission, from taking part in discussions at the UN, to seeking new ways to serve the poorest of the poor. If you’re a Catholic woman who is interested in finding out more about sharing your gifts in service of the Gospel and the Church, do get in contact with us.”
 
The Board provides a forum in which Catholic Women in England and Wales (members of Catholic organisations, and other women representatives of diocesan structures) exchange experiences, express their hopes and concerns and make recommendations on the life and mission of the Church. It has as its aim to work for the Common Good and forwards to Government, and others, submissions dealing with matters of public interest and concern.
 
Bishop William Kenney, Auxiliary in the Archdiocese of Birmingham, and liaison Bishop with the NBCW said: "Pope Francis highlighted at the beginning of his Pontificate that one of the areas he was hoping to explore was the role of women in the Church, and he has since affirmed in Evangelii Gaudium (103) that women make an ‘indispensable contribution’ to society through the ‘sensitivity, intuition and other distinctive skill sets which they, more than men, tend to possess.’ I am delighted to be liaison Bishop with the Board and have been moved and impressed by the passion, professionalism and energy that members display for Jesus Christ and the Church’s mission, as well as the campaigning and lobbying that is done in support of the most vulnerable in our communities.”
 
A resolution was made at the AGM to adopt St Hilda and St Winefride as patron saints. St Hilda played a significant role in the conversion of England to Christianity, while the Welsh, St Winefride, has inspired generations through her life of service and holiness; a Shrine and Well dedicated to St Winefride at Holywell in Flintshire has been a place of pilgrimage and healing for over 13 centuries.

Attendee at the Anniversary conference, Nikki Petch, representing the Catholic Association for Racial Justice, said: “This is such a dynamic forum for Catholic women. I value being a member of the Board enormously and find it a source of inspiration and encouragement as I try to live and share my faith and serve the Church.”
 
The keynote speakers for the Anniversary weekend were Sr Gemma Simmonds from Heythrop College, University of London, and Cathy Corcoran OBE of the Cardinal Hume Centre in London. Both shared perspectives on ‘Today’s women, tomorrow’s Church’. The closing Mass of the weekend celebration was celebrated by Bishop Emeritus Vincent Malone (Liverpool).
   

Message from Cardinal Vincent Nichols on the occasion of the 75th Anniversary of the National Board of Catholic Women (NBCW)

Although I am unable to be with you to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the National Board of Catholic Women, my congratulations are no less heartfelt. I wish to thank most sincerely the NBCW for its valuable contribution to the life of life of the Church in England and Wales since its formation at the invitation of Cardinal Hinsley. On the occasion of the NBCW’s Golden Jubilee, another of my predecessors, Cardinal Hume, said: “The Bishops’ Conference needs to hear from women about the concerns and views of women in the Church on topics which seem to women to be the most crucial or fundamental”. Twenty-five years later much has been achieved as the Board takes the lead in studying and acting upon crucial issues in our society. Pope Francis acknowledges “the need to create still broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church” (Evangelii Gaudium, 103). Looking to the future, I am confident that the NBCW can play its part in realising the Holy Father’s vision so that the joy of the Gospel may be shared ever more widely. Once again, many congratulations and thanks to the NBCW on the occasion of its 75th Anniversary. Please be assured of my continued prayers for its mission. Please pray for me. Thank you.
 
Cardinal Vincent Nichols,
Archbishop of Westminster

National Board of Catholic Women

 
Pearl Clarke, NBCW President, email: nbcwpres@gmail.com
 
Website: nbcw.co.uk/home.html
 
Members: nbcw.co.uk/membership.html