Westminster: new resources explore Church teachings on Mary

Mary is the most important woman in Christianity and over the next six weeks Catholics in the Diocese of Westminster's 214 parishes will have the chance to discover her real significance.

Starting on Sunday 17 October, in weekly meetings of small faith-sharing groups they will follow daily reflection and prayer included in a new specially produced booklet, Hail Mary, Full of Grace. This 65 page resource features six group sessions with a number of illustrations of Mary by artists and iconographers past and present. It also includes a number of supplementary materials such as a 'Little Office of the Blessed Virgin' based on the Prayer of the Church, information on shrines and quotes from saints and familiar prayers. The booklet is available online:  www.rcdow.org.uk/smallcommunities

Archbishop Vincent Nichols explains the importance of Mary: "For someone so central to the Christian drama, there is relatively little about Mary in the Scriptures, she stands very much in the background. But we know that Mary treasures and ponders in her heart all that is said about and by her Son. In this we follow in her footsteps. We too seek an understanding of and intimacy with Christ. In her journey of faith to her eternal credit, she travelled always and everywhere in hope. We are called to do the same."

Hail Mary, Full of Grace is the 14th faith sharing season in the diocese since the first small community season, At Your Word, Lord, a two and a half year period of diocesan renewal, was launched in October 2003. It is produced by the Diocese of Westminster's Agency for Evangelisation.

Mark Nash, team member responsible for the promotion and support of Small Communities in the Diocese of Westminster says: "Hail Mary Full of Grace will explore what the Church teaches about Mary, encouraging thousands of people to meet together. Those who gather see it as a real help and a true blessing, and are always keen to welcome more people to join their groups. Using the booklet is about sharing faith and experience. Through Hail Mary Full of Grace we hope that more people will see the blessings they can receive from following the season as a group."

The Agency of Evangelisation's faith sharing seasons and their resources are now used in Lithuania, Africa and the Americas.  The Diocese of Stockholm in Sweden has also translated previous small community resources into Swedish to be used in their own parishes to help their work of evangelising the faithful.

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