News

World Day of Prayer (WDP)

Margaret Clark, WDP Catholic Representative National Committee

WDP is a global ecumenical movement, formerly known as Women's World Day of Prayer, led by Christian women who welcome you to join in prayer and action for peace and justice, inspired by the motto "Informed Prayer and Prayerful Action." It is a privilege therefore, to represent Catholic women on the World Day of Prayer (WDP) National Committee.

An ecumenical group of Palestinian Christian women have prayed and reflected together over several years to respond to an invitation to write the 2024 service. As Pope Frances asserts, Palestinian people and the people of Israel "have the right to peace". Their theme of the service is "I Beg You…Bear With One Another in Love," Ephesians 4:1-7, despite all difficulties and oppression.

The Palestinian women invite the world to pray for peace, justice, freedom of religion and freedom of movement. Their prayers specifically call us to pray with women refugees, homeless, sick, dying and grieving. They acknowledge the environmental crisis and pray to be united in treating all with justice and love. In the current situation prayers are needed more than ever for peace. A WDP statement has already been given, and an updated statement will be made on Ash Wednesday, 14 February, to be read at all World Day of Prayer meetings on 1 March 2024. This will be available on the website Wwdp.org.uk. No amendments to the WDP Order of Service should be made.

Additionally, since joining the National Committee I have attended several meetings. The first was a Link Day to be introduced to other Christian women, to listen and observe. It was evident from this that there is more that unites us than divides us, which reinforced my experience of working with Churches Together, and now on the Synodal Journey.

Resources for the Preparation Days, for March 2024 have been forwarded to each of the Branch secretaries throughout the British Isles, including a WDP magazine and WDP Order of Service. Access to all of these can be found on the website Wwdp.org.uk.

You are all encouraged to join a World Day of Prayer service in your area and to encourage others to do so. Our prayers have never been more needed.

Sr Murashko said she coped with the needs of displaced people by "sitting with the Lord quietly in the morning"

Article by Bess Twiston Davies and appeared on The Tablet Website 9th February 2024.

A Ukrainian nun living 50 km from the frontline has told British Catholic women that her community is struggling to help local people displaced by the Ukraine-Russia war.

Those displaced from villages and towns near the fighting are flooding into Zaporizhzhia, where Sr Lucia Murashko's monastery is located in southeastern Ukraine.

She told the National Board of Catholic Women that her community of the Order of St Basil the Great is struggling to meet all the physical, social, and psychological needs of the displaced.

Every day, the nuns hear the sound of bombs falling on the frontline.

During a webinar on January 20, Sr Murashko said the initial flow of humanitarian aid to her region of south-eastern Ukraine was decreasing "but the needs of the people who have lost their homes and livelihoods do not go away".

Jacintha Bowe, vice-president of NBCW, told The Tablet: "Sometimes the sisters find the demands of the people bigger than they can respond to and in these situations, they pray for, and with, these people keeping the candle of hope alive."

Sr Murashko said she coped with the needs of displaced people by "sitting with the Lord quietly in the morning". She explained to 40 women attending the webinar that her quiet time gave her "spirit" the "strength" to bring compassion to the people she would meet over the coming day.

"There is always so much to do," she concluded.

Bowe said Sr Murashko's words were a reminder of "the importance of sustaining our prayers for our fellow Christians who live day by day with the reality of war".

Sr Murashko was one of five women to address Exploring Hope in the Context of Trauma, a webinar held in preparation for the 2025 Jubilee year whose theme is Pilgrims of Hope. Other speakers included Nikki Dhillon Keane, a therapist who helps survivors of domestic abuse, Sr Michaela Toulmin from the Bernardine Cistercian Monastery of Our Lady of Hyning in Carnforth, Lancashire, Jacintha Bowe, Patricia Stoat from the Justice and Peace Commission of Nottingham Diocese and Amy Cameron, the current president of the board of NBCW.

They reflected on trauma from the perspective of Scripture, Catholic tradition, psychotherapy, and personal experience.

Promoting NBCW at Diocesan Justice and Peace Event

Pictured is NBCW Diocesan Link for Arundel and Brighton, Sue Petritz, at the Arundel and Brighton diocesan annual Justice and Peace Conference held in January at Crawley.

Sue is displaying materials published by the National Board of Catholic Women and information about forthcoming events.

Five Catholic Women Speak About Hope

In preparation for the 2025 Jubilee year Pilgrims of Hope, the National Board of Catholic Women invited five Catholic women to share their reflections on hope. Members of the Board and guests heard from Sr. Michaela Toulmin from the Hyning Monastery in Lancashire, Jacintha Bowe, Vice President of NBCW, Patricia Stoat, Nottingham Diocese Justice & Peace Commission, Nikki Dhillon Keane, a therapist who works with survivors of domestic violence and abuse, and Amy Cameron, President of the Board.

We were delighted to be joined online from Ukraine by Sr Lucia Murashko from the Order of St Basil the Great. She spoke movingly of the challenges of religious life close the front line, and reminded us of the importance of sustaining our prayers for our fellow Christians who live day by day with the reality of war.

Forty women participated in the online event on Saturday 20th January.

The reflections included perspectives from scripture, tradition, psychotherapy, and personal experience.

For details about future events and membership of the NBCW, please visit the website www.nbcw.co.uk

NBCW Administrative Support

  • Role: To provide administrative support to the NBCW
  • Hours per week: To be Agreed (approx. 7 hours per week)
  • Payment: £15 Hourly rate (This is a contracted position with the individual invoicing for their services)
  • Term of agreement: Flexible arrangement and reviewed quarterly
  • Place of work: Remote
  • Reporting Arrangements: A member of the Executive Committee (TBC)
  • Accountable to: The NBCW Executive Committee

Role description

To provide high quality administrative and communications support to the leadership of the NBCW

Main duties

1. Provide a general confidential administrative support to the leadership of the NBCW

  • As first point of contact, respond to enquiries by email, passing on as required for more detailed consideration;
  • Manage Zoom admin, set up and record meetings
  • Prepare and circulate agendas, supporting documents, zoom links for all meetings;
  • Finalise documents, briefing papers, reports;
  • Ensure the NBCW spreadsheet of contacts is kept up-to-date;
  • Record minutes of key meetings as agreed by the Executive Committee;
  • Send welcome emails to new members and new roles;
  • Organise the archiving of documents when a key member steps down.

2. Support key NBCW events

  • Coordinate arrangements for conferences, including booking suitable venues, negotiating costs, liaising with speakers, processing bookings and attending when required, to ensure efficient organisation of the event;
  • Produce high quality publicity materials;
  • Manage the NBCW diary;
  • Maintain and promote good relationships among all who are associated with the work of the NBCW;

3. Supporting the NBCW Website and online profile

  • Working with NBCW members ensure the website remains fresh and up to date
  • Ensure key documents are uploaded to the website in a timely manner;
  • Ensure general communications are circulated and updated on the website
  • Ensure social media posts are fresh and exciting

4. Undertake other reasonable duties as requested

This role is suitable for someone with a good level of organisational skills, knowledge of Microsoft office Suite (Word, excel) or Google equivalent and Zoom. A working knowledge of Canva or other design tools and Wordpress.

The NBCW is looking for someone to undertake this role who is Catholic and aligned to the aim of promoting the Communion, Participation and Mission of Catholic women.

If you are interested in further information please contact: nbcwleadership@gmail.com

To apply please write a letter of interest expressing any relevant experience and how you will meet the criteria laid out in the role description and duties. Please provide the contact details of two referees (one professional, one faith-based)

Send applications to nbcwleadership@gmail.com

Deadline for applications: 2nd February 2024
Interview date: 9th February 2024

Statement on International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls - 25th November 2023

Saturday 25 November marks the UN International Day for Ending Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) and the start of 16 days of global activism. As Catholics, we have a responsibility to join this movement: the work to end VAWG is deeply rooted in Catholic Social Teaching.

Violence against women and girls is the most pervasive human rights violation, and is often perpetrated by the people closest to them: around the world, a woman is murdered by a partner or family member every 11 minutes.[1] Women and girls are particularly vulnerable in times of war; sexual violence is used as a weapon of war and is also rife in refugee camps.

In the UK, domestic abuse disproportionately affects women, with one in four (and one in two Deaf and disabled women) subjected to domestic abuse during their lifetime.[2] Research has shown that women with a religious faith tend to stay longer in abusive marriages, and that statutory services often fail to meet their spiritual needs[3].

This year's theme for the international day for ending VAWG is "Unite! Invest to end violence against women and girls" As Catholics, we can answer the call to action in many ways, investing not just money, but our time, skills and willingness to speak up and raise awareness of this issue. The Holy Father calls us to work together to end violence against women, and the Church in England and Wales is answering the call through the work of the National Board of Catholic Women, CSAN, and projects like Caritas Westminster's Bakhita House and Safe in Faith. This year, the CSAN domestic abuse alliance is focusing on the issues of migrant women, who are particularly vulnerable when they are subjected to interpersonal violence. Women with no recourse to public funds face barriers to some of the protection and services which are accessible to other victims and survivors, and their rights are not protected by the Domestic Abuse Act 2021.

Catholics across England and Wales are encouraged to join the call to action, with a 16-day calendar of suggested actions to help you take part in the global movement to end VAWG. You can download the calendar from the websites below; please share it in your parishes and join us in prayer and in action to protect the lives and dignity of women and girls around the world.

If you would like to join in this call to action, the following organisations may be of help:

Footnotes

[1] www.unodc.org/documents/data-and-analysis/statistics/crime/UN_BriefFem_251121.pdf

[2] https://refuge.org.uk/news/refuge-launches-accessibility-features-ndah-website/

[3] www.faithandvawg.org/publications/resource-page-document-only/

End Notes

National Board of Catholic Women

The National Board of Catholic Women brings together women from many different backgrounds. Working nationally and internationally to challenge discrimination and promote the right of women to gender justice. The Board actively promotes the presence, participation and responsibilities of Catholic women in the Church and society. The Board works ecumenically, with women of other faiths and secular groups. There are also many member organisations that bring their expertise, interests and networks to the wider Board. The Board is a consultative body to the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales and the United Nations Social and Economic Committee (ECOSOC). In 2020, after many years of addressing VAWG issues as part of their other work, and responding to a growing need, the Board created a new committee to focus solely on issues relating to Violence Against Women and Girls to sit alongside their other key work areas. More information can be found on the NBCW website.

Caritas Social Action Network

Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN) was established by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales to develop the Church's social action in these parts of the United Kingdom, sharing in the mission of the Catholic Church where England and Wales can be places where every person is fulfilled in their families and communities, living with peace and human dignity. The small national team, based in London, seeks to animate and co-ordinate Catholic charitable activities, and to bring the voices of the poor and Catholic teaching to bear in guiding public policy. The network includes Catholic dioceses and professional organisations committed to the principles of Catholic Social Teaching. Their work includes community and specialist support for families and children, the elderly, people who are homeless, refugees, the disabled, and prisoners. They draw on deep and lasting connections of volunteers and staff with their neighbourhoods. More information can be found on the CSAN website.



SALINA'S LETTER

As part of CAFOD's Fix the Food System campaign, over 70,000 Catholics from across England and Wales had signed the letter in solidarity with Salina to urge the World Bank to stop supporting policies that limit small farmers' choice over which seeds they can use. Sue Petritz, Diocesan Link for Arundel & Brighton joined Cafod campaigners on Wednesday October 11th as they delivered 'Salina's letter' to the world Bank's UK offices in London. Pictured is Sue with her parish letter.

World Day of Prayer statement regarding the war in Israel/Palestine.

World Day of Prayer England Wales and Northern Ireland is horrified at the new war that has just broken out in Israel/Palestine. After all, the theme of next year's service celebrating the Christian women of this region is "I beg you … bear with one another in love." In condemning Hamas's attack launched on the 50th Anniversary of the Yom Kippur war of 1973, we are also led to reflect on the decades of occupation, siege, and human rights violations and abuses that have led up to this moment.


We unequivocally condemn actions of violence that avoid the harder battles of justice. The killing and maiming of civilians, whether by Hamas rockets or Israeli airstrikes are unjustifiable, a war crime under international law. Also, unjustifiable are some of the actions that have led to this current war, including a situation that has turned Gaza into a densely populated area with no means of escape.


This violence will not aid the aims of safety, equality, freedom, and peace. To quote A.J. Muste, theologian, political analyst and former executive director of Fellowship of Reconciliation, an ecumenical Christian charity, "There is no way to peace. Peace is the way."


May the united prayer for peace of more than 8 million women be heard this October!

Given the recent events in the Middle East, the war that continues in Ukraine and the armed confrontations throughout the world, let us join the plea of Pope Francis who, with great pain, tells us: "Please stop the attacks and the weapons! Let it be understood that terrorism and war do not lead to any solution. Every war is a defeat…"

As members of a Church that is moving towards synodal conversion and that invites us to pray, to listen to and embrace each other, to respect each other in our differences and to privilege the unity of all, let us demonstrate, with our actions, that we can contribute to generate a culture of peace.

Why not start by committing to pray tirelessly for an end to the aggressions, war and terrorism that besiege us. Let us also pray for the victims and their families. May they be aided in their material needs as well as comforted in the hope that a better world is yet to come.

Now that we are in the month of the Rosary, I invite you to join us on Saturday 14, 21 and 28 of October, days of the week consecrated to Our Lady, to pray a Rosary to Mary, Queen of Peace, our Patroness, asking for her intercession for the cessation of violence in the different corners of the world and for all those who suffer from it. You can pray it alone or in a group, at a time that suits you best.

Let us make the motto of our past Assembly a reality and, as women of WUCWO, let us be true artisans of human fraternity for world peace. May the plea and prayer of more than 8 million women be heard!

Mónica Santamarina

WUCWO President General

Representing the NBCW at Northampton Diocesan Assembly July 15th 2023.

I am Helen Burgess the NBCW Diocesan link for the Northampton Diocese. On the 15th of July 2023 I was one of 350 delegates from across the Northampton diocese who gathered at Thornton College for the Diocesan Synod Assembly, Pilgrims of Hope. As part of this process 5 working parties had been identified and I was asked to lead the women's ministry working party. I gathered a team and for many months we prayed, listened, reflected and eventually produced a report which we submitted to the assembly. You can hear an overview from the working parties here: https://youtu.be/ajn8lGIkpg8 and watch the live stream from the assembly here: https://youtu.be/xb0y7G3lTeM All of the reports and preparation webinars are here: https://northamptondiocese.org/diocesefocus-synod/ including the women's ministry webinar.

The synod team reflecting on the day said that "Through the prep sessions, through the webinars, and through the day itself there was a great sense of people coming together, and of a shared sense of purpose and openness to the Holy Spirit. At the beginning of the day we heard from Bishop David, the working parties and the youth stream. We even had a note of prayer and appreciation from Pope Francis. Then we moved into workshops, which were by turns reflective, passionate, and eye-opening. Stories of hurt and healing were told, and dreams shared for the future. Our final session gathered together some of the learning from the day, electrified by the youth stream. Bishop David shared with us three key words: koinonia - fellowship, working together against division; agape - laying down our lives in love for one another; and exousia He finished by telling us that

An action plan will be finalised over the summer to address the main concerns of the listening.
Every area of diocesan life will be encouraged and supported as we look to meet the changing needs of our Church and the world.

A new Diocesan Pastoral Council will take forward the agenda of the Assembly
As delegates we were all encouraged to become ambassadors for the Assembly, and we finished the day with a beautiful period of prayer and worship. We thank everyone who worked so hard to make the day a success". ( https://northamptondiocese.org/assembly/ )

As the NBCW Diocesan link I was able to host a stall promoting our work and with the help of Sister Miriam from Turvey Abbey (NBCW Women in the Church Committee) produced postcards to advertise what we do and who we are. All in all it was a very inspiring process and we look forward to subsequent steps.

Helen Burgess