Whom or what is ‘Catholic Women Praying Together’?

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Posted on: 18 December 2019

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It is a new organisation, supported by the Association of Catholic Women, the Catholic Women’s League, Ladies of the Ordinariate, Life Ascending and The Union of Catholic Mothers. We were ‘born’ out of Catholic Women of the Year, which each year invited nominations of women who served the Church and their local communities, especially those ‘unsung heroines’ who quietly and simply got on with doing whatever they felt was needed for the common good. From the nominations, four women were chosen and recognised at a grand luncheon in a London hotel.

However, times and priorities change, so after celebrating the Golden Jubilee Lunch in 2018, it was felt that a change of direction was needed, to focus more on the needs we see around us in our everyday lives today. We decided to channel our energies into organising a spiritual event, with lunch as a supporting, rather than the major activity. The new event had to be firmly rooted in prayer and what better way of achieving this than coming together in the celebration of Mass?

Thus, on 6th November around 100 (mostly) ladies gathered for Mass at the Jesuit Church of the Immaculate Conception – commonly known as Farm Street Church – in the heart of Mayfair in Central London. This beautiful church was opened in 1849 and since 1966 has been a parish church within the Archdiocese of Westminster. It is home to some outstanding examples of art and sculpture such as this 14-feet long life-size painting of the Last Supper by Andrew White and this ‘Homeless Jesus’ sculpture located in the side chapel of Our Lady of the Seven Dolours.

The Mass was celebrated by the Right Reverend Monsignor Keith Newton P.A. (Protonotary Apostolic) who is the first Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. Our chosen intention was ‘Praying for Young People’ which Mgr. Newton reflected upon so eloquently in his homily, which is reproduced at the end of this article.

Given our chosen intention, it was most appropriate to have St Cecelia’s choir from Coloma Convent School in Croydon singing at our Mass. The 40+ girls sang beautifully and contributed significantly to this prayerful occasion and, from the following posting on the school website, were clearly proud to be there: ‘On Wednesday, 6th November, the St Cecilia’s Choir was fortunate enough to participate in and sing at a Mass at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, known as the Farm Street Church, in Mayfair. There was a substantial turnout and the stunning beauty of the church added to the divine atmosphere in which we sang. This mass was organised by Catholic Women Praying Together, a group bringing together the main Catholic women’s groups in Britain, including our Coloma girls.

Great thanks go to our soloists, Eilis O’Shea (Lower Sixth) and Pearl Young (Upper Sixth) who bravely led our choir with their wonderful singing. This Mass was successful in demonstrating the communal Catholic spirit across many generations of women, whilst focussing on Britain’s young people today.’

Mass was followed by a modest buffet lunch which was an enjoyable time for meeting old and new friends. It was especially good to see so many members of the UCM out ‘in full force’ making up around 60% of those present and coming from the Dioceses of Arundel & Brighton, Birmingham, East Anglia, Northampton, Shrewsbury, Southwark and Westminster. We were also joined in prayer on the day by UCM members in the Archdiocese of Liverpool, as well as many in the Diocese of Portsmouth, who held their own Masses to pray for our young people.

Feedback was very positive and we are now planning the 2020 event, which is provisionally booked for Wednesday 4th November, with Mass at 12 noon at Farm Street, followed by lunch.
Watch out for more news.

Anne Emblem, Chairman, Catholic Women Praying Together.

Credited sources:
https://www.jesuit.org.uk/church-immaculate-conception

https://www.thetablet.co.uk/news/10923/homeless-jesus-finds-place-to-lay-his-head-in-london

https://www.jesuit.org.uk/blog/memoriam-spiritual-journey-painting

https://www.coloma.croydon.sch.uk/st-cecilias-choir-sing-in-mayfair/