The sun shone as 1,300 members of the Catholic Women's league from all over England and Wales gathered at Westminster Cathedral for their Holy Year Mass of Thanksgiving last Thursday. Arriving at Victoria by coach, minibus, car and taxi, some had left home as early as 3.30am, others had experienced all sorts of travel difficulties - one coach driver having tried to drop off a group at Westminster Abbey. We came together with an air of excitement and eagerness. We had been waiting for this day for a long time and intended to make the most of it. Members greeted each other with hugs and kisses. Banners from all our 22 branches were distributed to their bearers. It was a wonderful privilege for the ladies to carry these banners. We all craned our necks and smiled with pride to see our banner being paraded in such august company! We sang 'Praise to the Holiest' as the procession began. Archbishop Cormac Murphy O'Connor, four Bishops and 40 priests celebrated the Mass in thanksgiving for 94 years of of service by the CWL. It was an opportunity for all members with our national president Anne Fox to ask for God's blessing on our work in the future. In his homily, Bishop Walmsley, Ecclesiastical Adviser to the CWL said, that we live our Christian lives as pilgrims and part of the family of God, being led by the light that is Christ. Like Christ we take up the scripture of Isaiah, taking good news to the poor, freeing prisoners, giving sight to the blind and freeing the downtrodden, taking the kingdom of God to everyone. He said that, taking our lead from our founder, Margaret Fletcher, and our patron saint, Margaret Clitherow, the CWL is well on its pilgrim way, having rolled up its sleeves, polished the motto of Charity, Work and Loyalty, reorganised, streamlined and restructured. To be in the mainstream of Christ's life and mission means to be in the mainstream of society. The Bishop said that the CWL is a not only concerned with the parochial needs but with concerns of all children, women and men - the sick, the poor, refugees and asylum seekers, the homeless, family and pro life issues, the elderly and handicapped. Before Mass ended, the Archbishop Cormac invited Anne Fox to say a few words. She expressed on behalf of us all our grateful thanks to the Archbishop, Bishops and priests who had celebrated a most memorable Mass. She also thanked the Cantor and Organist for their wonderful contribution. The 1,300 members showed their appreciation with loud applause. It was simply the best. Anyone outside Westminster Cathedral that day couldn't fail to recognise that the Catholic Women's League is very much alive and ready to face the challenge of modern society.
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