... with some 250 other women...golly, the NOISE!! But the Catholic Women of the Year Luncheon is always fun, and this year I sat between Aghi Clovis, who is one of the four Catholic Women of the Year, and Sara Johnson, author and journalist, who was our guest speaker. Sara spoke extremely well, amusingly and frankly, putting the human and biological reality of marriage and children across in a superb analysis of why human beings need families. It was funny, forthright, and honest - and she murmured to me beforehand that some of it might be just a little too frank, and should she give a warning about this as there were some children present? We discussed, and I hurried off to warn the young mother of the children in question - who said breezily oh, not to worry, they very likely wouldn't be listening anyway, it would all go over their heads...and she was quite right. The boys, very cheery and looking v. nice in their best jackets and crisp shirts, were enjoying themselves and like most sensible children didn't bother about all the grown-up speeches at all.
The four Catholic Women of the Year included pub landlady Bridie Morrissey, Jo Norton a worker for seafarers with the Apostleship of the Sea, Ann Widdecombe MP - unfortunately unable to attend - and Aghi Clovis, already mentioned, of Human Life International. Chairman Jan Woodford presided, and there were speakers from the two charities we were supportinmg this year, Rainbow International - which helps children suffering bereavement or family break-up - and the Medaille Trust, which runs homes for victims of sex-trafficking.
There is always an atmosphere of goodwill, with people able to celebrate values that matter in a friendly and cheerful way... The Catholic Women of the Year are chosen from a vast number nominated, all with inspiring stories, and you realise just what a lot of goodwill there is around. They invariably dislike having their achievements paraded, but I can't resist mentioning Mrs Morrissey, with whom I had a lovely chat...her nomination had described so many quietly good things..helping out people in difficulties, taking in children needing care, running a prayer-group, and having an open-house at Christmas for anyone who might otherwise be alone...and Mrs Norton, whose work involves meeting ships and helping with the things matter to seafarers miles from home: phone calls, getting to a bank, buying neccesities for the next journey - and also arranging for them to get to Mass, to have rosaries, prayer-books, contact with the Faith, the knowledge that the Church is there for them even when miles out at sea...
Aghi Clovis is a great friend so it was a joy to be next to her at lunch. You simply must come and hear her speak, about her journey from Islam to the Church, at the Towards Advent Festival - Saturday November 3rd, Westminster Cathedral Hall.
Latest edition of VOICES, magazine of Women for Faith and Family, in the USA, arrives. If you enjoy this blog, you might enjoy some of the features I've written for the magazine, so try this link.