Tributes to Mildred Nevile

Mildred at the opening of Denis Hurley House last October with Oblate Provincial, Fr William Fitzpatrick, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor and Bishop David Konstant

Mildred at the opening of Denis Hurley House last October with Oblate Provincial, Fr William Fitzpatrick, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor and Bishop David Konstant

Tributes to Mildred Nevile have been pouring in since her death was announced on Sunday morning. Her funeral will take place at the church of St Joan of Arc, 60 Highbury Park, London, N5 2XH, next Wednesday, 12 September at 11am. Mildred will be buried in Lincolnshire a day or so afterwards.

Tony Sheen from CAFOD writes: What a lovely, inspiring woman and good fun too. She will be sadly missed.

Parishioner Cindy McCormac writes: Mildred was an amazing woman and an inspiration to so many of us. The first time I met her was at a church event after Mass over ten years ago when I was quite new new to the parish. She was collecting signatures to stop some mining companies who were harassing local communities in South America. She inspired me and many others I'm sure to join CAFOD and to try to work against injustice and poverty. In a very quiet and under-stated way she was like a community elder and a leader to many of us in CAFOD. Mildred always saw the big picture. Intelligent, warm, hard working, witty and great fun to be around. She will be a big loss to our parish and our community.

Christine Allen, former director of Progressio writes: Mildred was an inspiration to so many of us as she lived totally in response to the Gospel. For me personally, she was a friend and mentor and was a constant source of kindness and inspiration for so much of my life. We will all miss her generosity of spirit, her warmth and humour.

It is a passing of a generation. None of us should forget the debt we owe, nor what we have to live up to.

She had a life-long commitment to work for peace and justice and to helping all of us to discover and deepen our spirituality of justice.

I first met her in 1988 when she was the Spiritual Director for the National J&P conference I helped organise. I was utterly in awe of this amazing woman, but she was so kind, welcoming and generous to this young girl with the clipboard! We soon discovered our mutual connection with the YCS (Young Christian Students) and somehow I found a place under her wing. Like the mother hen (how she embodied the holy spirit), Mildred found space to support so many so much. Her commitment to Progressio and CAFOD is well known, but she was engaged with many other organisations (especially on refugees), often in a very quiet way.

Her spirit remains in all those whose lives she touched, too numerous to count. We may be bereft, the church and the world has lost a tremendous person, but our loss is heaven's gain.

We mourn for ourselves - for our loss, for the space she leaves is truly unfillable. Through our sadness we give thanks and rejoice that we had that gift for so long.

Progressio staff and supporters have been deeply saddened by the news. 

In a message to staff, Martin McEnery, Chair of Trustees said: "She is one of our great Progressio heroes. She started working for us in 1958, before we even had the name of Catholic Institute for International Relations. In 1967 she became our General Secretary, as the Chief Executive post was called in those days. She served in that role with great distinction until she retired in 1986. Under her leadership our focus became more and more on world poverty and development. Throughout that time and indeed in the years after, she has been for Progressio a tower of strength and loyalty, and a source of sound, experienced advice, both strategic and spiritual to us. Ever generous she offered deep personal friendship to many, many people. Even recently in her last illness, which she bore with her usual strength and acceptance, she continued to encourage me in my role as Chair of Progressio and to offer helpful perceptions from her long experience. Please remember in your thoughts and prayers a very dear friend of our organisation."

James Collins, Acting Chief Executive of Progressio said: "Mildred's loss will be deeply felt by staff and partners at Progressio, as a friend, colleague and inspiration. She laid the foundations for so much of our work, and remained a loyal friend to the last. She will be very sadly missed."

Some personal thoughts from Pat Gaffney, General Secretary of Pax Christi: Mildred's death is a huge loss to many of us. A role model, inspiration and an ever listening ear for me, Mildred was there and ever willing to do whatever she could to quietly support our work in Pax Christi.

Aware of her great knowledge of the Church and its work for social justice, we invited Mildred chaired to conference we ran in 2003 on the anniversary of Pacem in Terris. She brought to life the atmosphere in the Church at that time and related the 'signs of the times' with clarity and insight. Her own experience of working with lay movements always shined through in the enormous encouragement she gave to others to keep going and not to give up or be frustrated by the system - be it Church or State.

We called on her several times to lead our Executive Committee and team in our annual retreats. Her combined skills as a spiritual director and her experience as a worker for social justice enabled her to understand the need for nourishment for the long haul and of the need for humour and hope in the work. We invited Mildred to use these skills on other occasions such as leading daily meditations with the Pax Christi ICON of peace in a programme we ran at St Ethelburga's Centre for Peace and Reconciliation in London.

Mildred was also a grass roots activist - joining us on anti-war marches and helping at our annual Hiroshima and Nagasaki vigils. And she found time to simply pick up the phone or send an email when she became aware of problems or challenges facing our work, just to keep us going. Always a great enabler, a real people person, but so humble and matter of fact about all she contributed to the Church and the world.

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