After a COVID-enforced break of over two years, Catholic Women Praying Together gathered for Mass on 28th April at the famous Jesuit Church of the Immaculate Conception in Farm Street, London.

The Mass was celebrated by the Rt Rev John Sherrington, Auxiliary Bishop in the Archdiocese of Westminster. The main intention was to pray for our young people, as well as all the people suffering in Ukraine and other war-torn parts of the world. In his homily Bishop John spoke about how war divides families, with the men called up to fight and the women and children having to cope, living in fear and poverty .

He also spoke movingly about the life of St Catherine of Sienna, whose feast day falls on 29th April. Born in 1347 in Italy, she dedicated her life to Christ, and joined the Dominicans at the age of 20. She was a mystic, experiencing many visions of Jesus and spent much of her time caring for the sick and the dying as the Black Death ravaged Europe. At the same time, she did not shrink from speaking out in matters of church politics, mediating in wars between city states and persuading Pope Gregory XI to return to Rome from Avignon. In her we have a good role model for Catholic women.

Mass was followed by  freshly-brewed tea and coffee in the Arrupe Hall at Farm Street, providing time to catch up with friends. Anne Emblem spoke about how Catholic Women Praying Together came into being, following on from the Catholic Women of the Year luncheon, which recognised and celebrated the work of ‘ordinary’ Catholic women in their parishes around the country. After the Golden Jubilee in 2018, it was felt that a new direction was needed, something to build on the past 50 years and to be firmly rooted in prayer. And what better way of achieving this than coming together in the celebration of Mass?

Anne thanked Bishop John and his secretary Virginia Utley for their patience in arranging and re-arranging dates as the pandemic went on, and Fr Dominic Robinson, Parish Priest at Farm Street and the very helpful administrative staff there.  She finished by thanking everyone who came and confirmed that the committee will now move on to plan the next Mass. Watch this space!

Bishop John Sherrington with the Catholic Women Praying Together organisers