Anne Marie Coppock
Being rooted in the dioceses is important because it enables the NBCW to accurately and faithfully represent the views and concerns of the broad base of Catholic Women of England and Wales to the Church itself; to the government; secular bodies and other denominations and faith communities, at a national an international level. Although the National Board of Catholic Women had been established by women’s Organisatios, by 1989, it was noted that fewer women were joining the traditional organisations.
Established by Cardinal Hume, Diocesan Links provide opportunities for women of the diocese to share their views and concerns with each other and with the local Church (their Diocese). This grass roots base enables the NBCW to represent, with confidence, the gathered voices of women in the Catholic Church of England a Wales at national and international levels.
The Diocesan Link is an appointee of the Bishop, receiving some financial support from the diocese for travel/speakers/postage etc. The diocese is the constituent member of the Board. How the Link works will depend on the individual Bishop, having developed in different ways in different dioceses, for example, Middlesbrough has a Women’s Commission and Liverpool a ‘Women’s Desk’ within the pastoral team.
The Diocesan Link is the link between the NBCW and women in the Diocese, bringing their gathered views and concerns to the NBCW and taking issues/information from the NBCW back into the dioceses through diocesan and local meetings - Ad clerum/ diocesan newspapers/ established organisations and networks etc. It is expected that the Link will have a core group representing different areas and networks since dioceses are too big for one person to act alone. The Link (or a member of the core group) attends National Board meetings three times a year and are also asked to report back to their Bishop once a year. An annual day for Diocesan Links was established to share ideas and good practice.