Hannah (Moruzzi) from the Project Office was delighted to be able to attend the Sixth Annual Conference of Brentwood Diocese’s Commission for Justice and Social Responsibility on Saturday 29th September.
It was a lively and thought-provoking event on the theme of ‘Living Faith for a Better World’. Faith in Action was a common thread in the presentations by key note speakers, John Battle and Des Robertson, and in the excellent reports by CJSR Co-Directors Davina Bolt and Phil Butcher, which reflected a broad spectrum of Commission achievements over the past year. Bishop Thomas McMahon, the Commission’s President, thanked long time peace campaigner Bruce Kent for his tireless work against arms proliferation. And in a series of moving video tributes from Chris Bain, Director of Cafod, and London Citizens’ Leaders, Neil Jameson and Bernadette Farrell, Bishop Thomas himself was honoured as a man whose words and actions were united in the pursuit of justice. Also present was Chris Ford, Chief Executive of Explore (the operational brand name of the Students Exploring Marriage Trust) who brought copies of Explore’s new marketing and support literature with him. Diocesan author Tony Castle attended the event and gave Hannah a copy of his new book ‘Living Hope,” which contains 96 ready made homilies with a family orientation. The book was described by Phil Butcher as, “A practical way, solidly grounded in scripture, to make each reading and every homily relevant to all families every Sunday.”
John Battle, former member of parliament for Leeds West, and a Knight Commander of the Papal Order of St Gregory the Great, spoke of the critical importance of family and the‘strong heart beat’ that still existed to build up communities from grass roots level. He said that communication through social media was no alternative to face-to-face dialogue and described how local efforts to build community in Leeds were being informed by global events and the experience of community-building in other cultures. John spoke enthusiastically about his work in support of parish credit unions, which are gradually loosening the stranglehold of loan sharks on local communities, and concluded his presentation by reminding us that it is not enough to simply say ‘hello’ to our neighbours: we are called to become real brothers and sisters in Christ through ‘Abba’ our shared Father.
Author and Cardiff Archdiocesan Strategist, Des Robertson, continued the theme of Faith in Action as he spoke candidly of his own faith journey through various ‘models’ of Church: from a childhood fearing a punishing God, to an era of new hope and dedicated church service inspired by Vatican II, through a period of frenzied and exhausting charitable work and finally to his “Community of Disciples” model of the present day. Echoing John Battle’s sentiments, Des told us that only if we love our neighbour and inspire congregations “to rise up out of the pews and become a community of disciples” can we truly come to know and love God. He shared the example of the Family Groups Movement in St Philip Evans parish, Cardiff, which was launched a year ago and now has three active family groups. These groups are collectively becoming a community of disciples by providing support and sustenance to each member family through their love and support of one another.
The Conference ended with a closing reflection by Fr Dan Mason and a group reading of the Home is a Holy Place Prayer.
For more information on support for Marriage and Family Life in Brentwood Diocese or to find out about the Explore Project Pilot in the diocese please visit the diocesan website.