Mildred Nevile with Christine Allen
CAFOD is mourning long-time Board member and Trustee Mildred Nevile, who died on September 2 at the age of 85. Mildred was a pioneer in international development, one of the most important lay leaders in the Catholic Church in England and Wales in the last century, and a model, mentor and counsellor to hundreds of people of all backgrounds.
CAFOD Director Chris Bain said: “Mildred was one of those farsighted and compassionate women who shaped CAFOD in its early years. Her contribution was immeasurable, encouraging CAFOD to address the root causes of poverty not just its symptoms. She won people over by her infectious and winning smile; when you met her you felt affirmed and inspired and encouraged. She had this effect on all she met!”
The high-point of Mildred Nevile’s career was the 28 years she spent at the organisation that when she joined it in 1958 was known as the Sword of the Spirit and later became the Catholic Institute for International Relations (CIIR), and is now Progressio. Mildred became General Secretary of CIIR in 1967. Under her leadership CIIR pioneered political advocacy on issues of global justice long before bigger agencies such as CAFOD felt able to do so.
Mildred became involved with CAFOD during her time at CIIR, and was a Board member and Trustee for more than 20 years. She once said: “To me, there has always been something humble and humbling about the manner in which people give to CAFOD: the spirit and sense of sharing resources within the same family, rather than a sense of the rich and the privileged giving to the poor and the less privileged.”
On her retirement in 1985, Mildred Nevile worked with refugees and asylum seekers, visiting them in the Harmondsworth Detention Centre near Heathrow, but also inviting them to her home and helping them to get to know London’s attractions through visits to the British Museum, galleries and parks. She also became a highly valued spiritual director.
Chris Bain added: “Our world is a poorer and duller place without Mildred’s deep humanity, her readiness to listen, her wise advice and her sense of fun.”