The Derry and Raphoe Branch of Mothers’ Union has launched a new book called ‘Faith in Action’ to mark the organisation’s 130 years of service in Ireland.
Members and friends from all over the Diocese and much further afield attended the launch in the Diocesan Centre in London Street, Londonderry. They included the All-Ireland President of Mothers’ Union, Phyllis Grothier – who had travelled from County Carlow – and Lady Christine Eames, who is a former Worldwide and Diocesan President. The audience's age profile spanned almost a century, ranging from a 9-week-old baby to a lady of 92 years who still serves on her parish's Select Vestry.
Speaking at the event, the current Diocesan President, Mary Good, said the book was inspired by a visit she made to the Worldwide Conference of MU, in May 2016, when delegates were encouraged to tell the transforming stories of people who had been impacted by Mothers’ Union. “They talked about sharing ‘our best kept secret’,” Mrs Good said, “that the Mothers’ Union is an amazing group of women and men, old and young, married and single, all over the world, who have made a remarkable difference in the lives of many in their churches and surrounding communities.”
Mrs Good said they wanted the book to represent all corners of the diocese and all ages, and to reflect as much as was possible of the branch’s impact over its 100 years in existence. “It was a challenge,” she said, “but we finally got there. We realise how much courage it takes to tell your story. Some, that are difficult to recall, bring up memories of very sad days; but hopefully we can also see that in each of these stories the reality of God’s hand and care was present through the Mothers’ Union.”
Among those listening to Mrs Good at the book launch were a young mother, Nichola Hampton, and her baby Lila, who is just nine weeks old. It is though Lila may have been the youngest person ever to have attended an MU meeting in the diocese.
The 'Faith in Action' book is divided into two sections. The first details the stories of individual members who have something to say about their journey and Mothers’ Union’s part in it. The second section highlights the various initiatives in which Mothers’ Union is involved.
The Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Ken Good, thanked the team who produced the new book. He said it was a “good news story” that needed to get out. The Bishop told the audience that he had never had to be persuaded of how great an organisation the Mothers’ Union was. “I believed it,” he said, “and I’ve believed it for a long time. It has touched many lives. In many, many parishes it is the backbone of the parish, actually, so I don’t need any persuasion. So, I’m very thankful that this book just tells their story.”
Former Worldwide President and Diocesan President of Mothers’ Union, Lady Christine Eames, congratulated the team on the “sheer, hard work” that had gone into the publication. “It’s been such a privilege and such a pleasure to see how branches have responded to 130 years of Mothers’ Union in Ireland. I look forward so much to looking at the book and reading the stories and to knowing that the Mothers’ Union in this part of the world has a history to be proud of.”
Moira Thom, who is head of fund-raising and communication for Mothers’ Union in Ireland, said it was important to tell the story of the impact the organisation had had on people’s lives and the difference that it had made in parishes and communities. She said the new book, ‘Faith in Action’, would go a long way towards doing that.
The All-Ireland President, Mrs Grothier, said today was a very special day in the life of the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe. She said the book, ‘Faith in Action’, shared “the joy, the pain, the love, the interest and the outreach that marks Mothers’ Union – that marks everything that we do.” Mrs Grothier said last week, in Edinburgh, she had heard MU members described as ‘ambassadors for Christ’. “Well this is what I feel that we are in Mothers’ Union. Mothers’ Union at its best is sharing that love, that love of Jesus Christ for each one of us and that love for one another”.
Mrs Grothier said some argued that Mothers’ Union needed to get away from the tea party idea. However, she reminded the audience of the success of the ‘Mums in May’ initiative, in which funds are raised in many branches through holding tea parties. Last week, Mrs Grothier said, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s adviser for reconciliation, Canon Sarah Snyder, spoke of the ‘ministry of the cup of tea’. “There is a wonderful ministry,” Mrs Grothier said, “in the sharing of that fellowship and joy as you share that cup of tea and, of course, if you raise some money for Mothers’ Union that’s a bonus.”
Mrs Good thanked TBF Thompson Trust, the Honourable the Irish Society and the All Ireland Mums in May Fund for supporting the publication. She also thanked those who had shared their stories in the book and helped spread the good news about the Mothers’ Union.