Mary Ward: A Prophet Honored in Her Own Country

MaryWardJo Siedlecka wrote a nice piece on the Mary Ward celebration at Westminster Cathedral in Sunday’s U.K.-based Independent Catholic News. Ward, foundress of the Institute for the Blessed Virgin Mary (IBVM) community of Catholic nuns, was a leader in social justice in 17th-century Protestant England. Her community marks it’s 400th anniversary this month.

As a side note, I was taught by IBVM sisters and was given the Mary Ward social justice award as a senior in high school. (I’m still working up to actually earning it.)

Here’s an excerpt from Siedlecka’s article:

History was made on Saturday, when a woman who risked her life to practice her  Catholic faith in 17th century Protestant England and was then imprisoned for being a heretic by the Catholic Church, was honored by Catholic Archbishop Vincent Nichols and the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams at a special Mass in Westminster Cathedral. …

During his homily, Archbishop Vincent Nichols said Mary Ward “was truly a woman of Europe”  equally at home in Austria, Italy and France.

Mary Ward walked to Rome three times. “Picture her shoes” Archbishop Vincent said. “You can tell a good deal about a woman from her shoes. Hers were tough and durable, in soft leather which fitted her individuality,” Archbishop Vincent said. …

Dr Rowan Williams  also paid tribute to Mary Ward. In his address, he said: “Mary Ward’s stubborn courage in following her calling through the most difficult of circumstances has, over the centuries, made a massive difference to the lives of countless people throughout the world, especially women.

“At a time when so many pressures combined to encourage the Church to retrench and to avoid risks, she kept a door open for a gospel-based vision for the renewal of religious life. Critical, loyal, brave and imaginative, she is a figure for all Christians to celebrate with gratitude.”

Read more here.

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