Mary Ward celebration at York Minster


 About 2000 people attended a Catholic Mass in York Minster on Thursday, 29 January, in celebration of the 400th anniversary of Mary Ward's foundation of the Congregation of Jesus and the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The principal celebrant was his eminence Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor who opened his address by reading cordial greetings from his Holiness Pope Benedict XVI who was himself educated by the Sisters in Bavaria.

The message said: "For four hundred years, religious women have drawn inspiration from Mary Ward's determination and courage, and following her example, they have dedicated themselves to carrying out God's will through an active apostolic service. Generations of students have cause to be grateful to the sisters for the Christian education they have received, and many more have benefited from the spiritual guidance and the formation of discipleship offered by the 'English Ladies'. His Holiness prays that, through the inspiration of their foundress, the members of the two Congregations will continue to be 'fountains of living water in the midst of a thirsting world' (Deus Caritas Est. 42).

In her reflection Sister Gemma Simmonds of the Congregation of Jesus said: "Mary Ward dared to dream the impossible and it came true, though not in her time." In her words of thanks Sister Jane Livesey, CJ Provincial Superior, added: "the prophet has at last been honoured in her own country".
Following the Mass, 940 members of the congregation joined the IBVM and CJ communities at the Bar Convent for refreshments. The Bar Convent is the oldest religious house in England, dating from 1686.

Share this story