Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, London, has praised the contribution religious orders and congregations have made to the Church in England and Wales.
On the 5th December the Conference of Religious (CoR) in England and Wales gathered together to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of CoR at Westminster Cathedral, London.
Sisters Maureen Peart and Margaret Mooney from the community in Wimbledon joined in the celebrations.
It was a beautiful celebration and a testament to the faith commitment of all those present. It was moving to witness the number of different religious communities represented in the visual display or in the book taken up at the Offertory procession. The over-riding phrase in so many of the statements submitted was love of God and/or neighbour and that led the Executive of CoR to use Julian of Norwich’s phrase “Love Is The Meaning” as the theme for the celebration.
Archbishop Nichols was the chief celebrant at the Mass in Westminster Cathedral.
Speaking to a congregation of over 1,200 religious, he said that over the last 150 years religious, especially women, have had an amazing impact on the life of the Church in England and Wales. He added that looking around the Cathedral, he saw incredible goodness in the faces of those present.
Despite the decline in the numbers of religious in England and Wales in recent years, religious orders and congregations are still involved in a variety of work. This includes university and prison chaplaincy, nursing, psychotherapy and providing pastoral care to prostitutes.
Celebrating with Archbishop Nichols were Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Fustino Sainz Munoz, Abbot Martin Shiperlee of Ealing Abbey, 10 bishops and over 20 priests.
Father Alan McLean led a 30 strong choir from the sanctuary, made up of both religious and lay people, including Sr Margaret Mooney from the Wimbledon community.
The Mass was also attended by the Lord Mayor of Westminster, Councillor Duncan Sandys.
Afterwards all present were invited to partake of refreshments in the halls surrounding the Cathedral.