Monday, 11 December 2017

Our Hopes and Dreams for 2018







Driving with the girls towards Brighton to visit some good friends of ours, I asked to Pierpaolo the question he hates me to ask him: "So Pier... what are our hopes and wishes for the new year?". He briefly looks at me as if to say' this can't be a serious question', laughs and the list starts...


  • A bigger house
  • A new car
  • More money
  • Affording music lessons for the children
  • A dog for Ettore 
  • Rest

The not so serious list carries on and starts verging on the ridiculous... The house described not only becomes huge but has an indoor/outdoor swimming pool, a sauna...ah! A gym and of course a fully equipped recording studio, an art room, a few horses, a unicorn for Virginia... and Maria, our 18 month old chips in to the conversation in her really funny way of speaking ... "mnmn have some?" (which we think means can I have some) what ever is that the children are saying she would like to have some. Without mentioning the amazing gadgets our new car would possess... tables that come out of the floor, sweet dispensers, a mini cinema... and a compart for the dog of course.

The nonsense finishes, the car goes quiet, my mind wanders and my list begins... yes... I start wishing for a bigger place... with a MASSIVE laundry room and yeah... why not a new car too... though I am sentimentally attached to our Big Blue van and I would miss not having to kick the door to open the boot. (I don't ALWAYS do it... so Pier don't worry ;) ).

Pierpaolo puts up the volume of 'All I want for Christmas is You' and the noise is restored ... The girls sing at the top of their voices and that joyful thrill of the season is more present than ever.

The boys phone to let us know they have woken up and that they will spend  Saturday afternoon building the Christmas crib. 
                                    

                                    



Everyone is happy! There is nothing we lack.


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This post is part of the Catholic Women Blogging Network Blog Hop.  Click on the picture for more posts on this topic.


What can I desire for? What can I hope for next year? What do I wish for? I look around me... I have more than I deserve. A husband who has given everything up for me and us, loving and obedient children, a roof, clothes and above all we have God in our life! 

Straight away everything becomes clear and my wishes and hopes for the coming year are obvious. I want to be grateful at all times, especially when it gets hard, I lose focus on what's really important,  when things don't go as I want them to go and are not perfect before my eyes! I want to be able to trust in the Lord fully, from the beginning. I want to trust in His Providence without ever doubting that perhaps this time He won't help us out. I want  to love without reservations. I want our children to have confirmation that God is Love.




Psalm 31
 In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness.
Bow down thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be thou my strong rock, for an house of defence to save me.
For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name's sake lead me, and guide me.
Pull me out of the net that they have laid privily for me: for thou art my strength.
Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O LordGod of truth.
I have hated them that regard lying vanities: but I trust in the Lord.
I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy: for thou hast considered my trouble; thou hast known my soul in adversities;
And hast not shut me up into the hand of the enemy: thou hast set my feet in a large room.
Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am in trouble: mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly.
10 For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing: my strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed.
11 I was a reproach among all mine enemies, but especially among my neighbours, and a fear to mine acquaintance: they that did see me without fled from me.
12 I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel.
13 For I have heard the slander of many: fear was on every side: while they took counsel together against me, they devised to take away my life.
14 But I trusted in thee, O Lord: I said, Thou art my God.
15 My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.
16 Make thy face to shine upon thy servant: save me for thy mercies' sake.
17 Let me not be ashamed, O Lord; for I have called upon thee: let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave.
18 Let the lying lips be put to silence; which speak grievous things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous.
19 Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!
20 Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.
21 Blessed be the Lord: for he hath shewed me his marvellous kindness in a strong city.
22 For I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes: nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplications when I cried unto thee.
23 O love the Lord, all ye his saints: for the Lord preserveth the faithful, and plentifully rewardeth the proud doer.
24 Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.




Friday, 8 December 2017

Pull Up a Pew #5 - A Catholic Voice -




In 2013 Pope Benedict referred to the digital social media as the new 'agora' , the new open space where thoughts, opinions and information is exchanged, an open square in which new relationships and communities are created.

"These spaces, when engaged in a wise and balanced way, help to foster forms of dialogue and debate which, if conducted respectfully and with concern for privacy, responsibility and truthfulness, can reinforce the bonds of unity between individuals and effectively promote the harmony of the human family. The exchange of information can become true communication, links ripen into friendships, and connections facilitate communion. If the networks are called to realize this great potential, the people involved in them must make an effort to be authentic since, in these spaces, it is not only ideas and information that are shared, but ultimately our very selves.
The development of social networks calls for commitment: people are engaged in building relationships and making friends, in looking for answers to their questions and being entertained, but also in finding intellectual stimulation and sharing knowledge and know-how. The networks are increasingly becoming part of the very fabric of society, inasmuch as they bring people together on the basis of these fundamental needs. Social networks are thus nourished by aspirations rooted in the human heart." (Pope Benedict XVI Message for World Communications Day 2013)

Caroline Farrow, woman, wife, mother and journalist has truly embraced the calling to speak out and witness to the Truth openly in the virtual sphere. She is an ever-present Catholic voice in the media who is not afraid of being in the spotlight and faithfully communicating the Church's viewpoint.

Though we've never met in person I have had the great pleasure of  following Caroline's social and traditional media output over a number of years and today I have the great pleasure of introducing her to you on my little virtual cosy space. 

Meet Caroline Farrow.


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Tell us a little bit about yourself and your Catholic background.

While I was baptised into the Catholic church as a baby and while I was always aware of this during childhood, my upbringing was, to borrow the phrase of Father Ted, ‘an ecumenical matter’. My father is an Anglican and was the organist at our local church, which is where my sister and myself attended every Sunday both for the morning and service and for Evensong where we sung in the choir. We also used to enjoy earning 50p, which was then the going rate for singing in the choir at weddings!

The only time we attended a Catholic Church would be during the school holidays when we would go to visit my grandmother who lived in Devon and attended Buckfast Abbey. In fact Buckfast Abbey feels very much like my spiritual home. Not only was I baptised there, but my first memories of Catholic liturgy are there and I remember being transported by the smell of incense, the monks’ chanting and being transfixed by the vibrant stained glass window of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel where we sometimes sat during Mass. One of my earliest memories is of sitting on the floor in that chapel clutching my palm on Palm Sunday.

One great sadness is that despite being baptised, my sister and I never received First Holy Communion. When we began to attend secondary school, the local vicar called my sister and myself to the Rectory one Saturday morning and told us that we needed to make a decision in terms of what denomination we were.

We returned feeling quite confused and reported the conversation to our parents, whereupon my mother sped off to the Catholic secondary school we were attending in order to speak to the headmistress, a nun, who determined that of course we must be Catholic and ought to attend the school Mass every Sunday. (We were day pupils at a Catholic boarding school). I don’t think the sisters were aware we had not received any kind of catechises so we were instructed simply to attend and copy what everyone else was doing at communion. My sister is a few years older than me and I remember my mother teaching her how to make the sign of the cross which she would need at school.

So it’s not surprising that I later lapsed as we had little in the way of instruction either at home or even at school. We went to Mass on Sundays, high days and holy days, but this was in the mid-eighties, the community was dwindling and it was presumed that by the time pupils got to secondary school they already knew all about confession and so on. It was only when I was well into maturity that I learned that you were supposed to go to confession before receiving the Eucharist, or what you were supposed to do with a rosary, or why you genuflected.


When was the crucial point of your reversion to Catholicism and in what way did your life change?

My conversion was a gradual process rather than a dramatic Damascene affair. I’d always had a basic belief in God and Jesus Christ, but had fallen away from going to church and from Catholicism thanks to the difficult teachings on contraception and sex, which I didn’t understand and preferred not to think about.

There were several steps on the journey along the way. One being when my daughter was a tiny baby and I was breastfeeding her to sleep while reading a copy of Brideshead Revisited for the first time. As I reached the end of the story when Charles’ conversion is described, I began to weep and decided that even though I was a miserable sinner who had done everything wrong in life, I was determined that I would not allow the same to happen to my daughter and would do whatever I could to give her the gift of faith that I had lacked as a child.

I started attending a Baptism course and then Mass every Sunday and began to explore the Catholic faith more and more deeply. I had realised through my own experience that the Catholic Church was right about abortion and contraception, therefore I wanted to learn what else she taught and why. I knew I believed in Jesus, but I wanted to understand how best to follow him and know more about the faith into which I had been baptised and to which I felt I intuitively belonged. I had to alter the course of my life which involved making some difficult personal decisions.


Tell us about your job

My vocation is no different to that of any other wife and mother, though being married to a Roman Catholic priest is in and of itself, something of a vocation, meaning that you often have to subordinate your own needs and desires to that of your husband’s ministry. I often find myself cancelling work arrangements and interviews because his vocation takes priority, which wouldn’t necessarily be the case for other Catholic women who work. It’s why I feel strongly that a married clergy is not a panacea, especially in a world which demands that male and female careers are of equal importance. My husband doesn’t have a job, but a vocation which carries incredible spiritual responsibilities, therefore my vocation is to support him, which many contemporary women find hard to understand.

In terms of the job I am most well-known for, I work as a freelance Catholic journalist and media commentator. It involves being very switched on and plugged into the news cycle and being ready to produce an written article or commentary at a moment’s notice, on anything to do with either feminism, motherhood or the Catholic Church at a moment’s notice.

I’m also doing some freelance work with a number of different Catholic media outlets, and am enjoying planning and producing multimedia content, such as forthcoming radio shows, which is giving a fascinating insight into life behind the camera and I’m enjoying honing my interviewing technique which is an entirely different skill set altogether, where you get to showcase a guest. It really helps being involved in Catholic organisations where your faith is taken as a given, celebrated and understood, rather than treated as a curiosity and misrepresented.


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Social media today is a very efficacious means to get your point across and let your voice be heard. You are a very active member of the virtual community, at what point did you decide that was necessary?
 
Social media was an organic development. I never really consciously decided that I was going to become an active member of the virtual community, but I realised by the  number of social media followers I gained and the amount of interaction and responses I was receiving, that this was something I could use productively, without actually taking up too much off my time.

I was quite flattered the other day to be called a Catholic opinion former, which is really not how I consider myself and something of a responsibility.


In 2009 Pope Benedict encouraged us to take the Gospel message to the Internet, how do you think that call is progressing?

If I’m honest, I think the internet and social media needs to be used more productively in terms of promoting the Gospel message, which is something all of us, myself included need to give more serious thought to.

There are some fabulous resources out there from trusted names, such as Catholic Answers and EWTN which are so helpful in terms of informing one’s faith and certainly helped me and my husband at various points in our different journeys of faith.

The downside of the internet for Catholics is that it is giving a lot more information and news than was every previously possible about the possible political machinations inside the Vatican and there’s a danger that we become over-invested and obsess about things which we have little of chance of changing or influencing and we begin to fret or even become despondent. It is good that Catholics are becoming more informed, we just need to ensure that we respond productively. Internecine squabbles are never a good witness to the faith.

We need to use the internet first and foremost to develop our own interior and prayer lives, which is vital if we are to be able to effectively evangelise others. It’s sometimes easier said than done.



Social media requires a lot of our attention and there is always the danger of feeling that you have to be engaged all the time or you might miss something. How do you balance that with your family life?

Social media only takes up as much time as you let it. The joy of an app is that it is easy to dip in and out of social media as and when you have a spare five minutes. The danger is that reaching for your phone can become an addictive and time-consuming habit.

It helps that I am a touch typist, able to type very quickly and so I tend to use Facebook, which lends itself to longer posts and more nuanced engagement, mainly when the children are in bed.

I make a habit of putting my phone away whenever I am spending quality time with the children and I’m too busy either first thing in the morning when I am getting the children ready for school, or when I have picked them up and am preoccupied with dinner, homework, bath and bed, to be distracted by the phone. I set myself a time limit in terms of social media and then stick to it.

In terms of catching up with the news cycle I have a few key accounts which I follow to keep in touch with developments and of course if a big story breaks, I will get a notification on my phone, but as I said, if I’m spending time with the family, I just put the phone away in a drawer or somewhere so I can’t be distracted by it.

 
Can you recall the most surreal conversation you had on social media and the most edifying one?
I’ve had so many surreal conversations on Twitter that it’s difficult to single out the most striking one. I think it might have been Ben Cohen from Pink News attempting to claim that my opposition to same-sex marriage rendered me anti-Semitic on the grounds that liberal Jews support it and therefore I was trying to deny them religious freedom!

The most edifying conversations tend to take place privately when people message me with various questions about the faith, or express support for what my public stance on various issues of faith and morals which they feel prevented from speaking out against. I am always delighted when people share their faith experiences with me and it’s gratifying when people who may otherwise be politically opposed to you, accept that you are approaching matters from a perspective of good faith.

I have been humbled that I count two gay men amongst my friends on social media who don’t know me in real life, but have been able to see that I harbour no hatred, animosity or ill will towards them. These types of friendships are crucial and I really appreciate the generosity and open-mindedness of people who do not demand that I abandon my beliefs before friendship, respect and mutual co-operation can be achieved.



What is your family policy on social media especially with regard to your children?

My younger children are all too young to have social media accounts or even want them at this stage. I love sharing photos of my children but am very careful to select ones which won’t cause them any embarrassment when they are older.

Now my eldest is a teenager I do not share any photos of her at all without her explicit consent. As a result of my public profile, I have unfortunately and perhaps inevitably, attracted various cyber-stalkers over the years which has caused my family distress and deterred my daughter from social media as she is worried that she too may be become a target.

To be honest, while the circumstances surrounding this may be unfortunate, my daughter doesn’t feel as though she is missing out in any way, but she is well aware of how to keep safe on the internet if she does change her mind in the future. I’m hoping that she stays away from social media for as long as possible and continues to model this for her younger siblings.

While she does have a tablet which was a school requirement this year, she doesn’t tend to use it, other than to catch up on Strictly Come Dancing and play Candy Crush! Our internet is pre-filtered and there is some excellent software available which monitors and limits children’s device use and the rule is that no technology is allowed in the bedroom after 9pm. We also have software which sends us copies of text messages sent and received. Children are going to have to cope with mobile devices and internet etiquette as adults, therefore it’s beholden on parents to help them learn good habits and to keep use of devices in perspective.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Two Degrees of Separation from Sanctity

The Spanish 20th Century Martyrs of the Vincentian Family

My nephew's fiance is staying in our home for a couple of months as they prepare for their marriage next year. Last weekend she headed back to Spain, not for work nor for a wedding but for the Beatification of her Great-great Uncle. The saints can sometimes seem impossibly far away, haloed ancients in another dimension yet It was amazing to suddenly be brought into such close contact with a bona fide martyr of the Catholic Church. 

I asked my nephews Marco and Victoria to write about what it's like to see a family member raised to the glory of the altar!



Blessed Enrique Pedro Gonzalbez Andreu
A few months ago we received an invitation to attend the beatification of Enrique Pedro Gonzalbez Andreu in Madrid, together with 59 other Spanish martyrs of the Society of St Vincent de Paul. This was particularly significant as Enrique is Victoria´s great-great-uncle and I had never witnessed a beatification ceremony in person. It was with excitement that we boarded our plane on a cold night in London, heading to Madrid, where we would meet Victoria´s extended family, who travelled from Cartagena, in the southeast of Spain. Over 30 of us made the trip to bear witness to the Church´s recognition of these martyrs´ lives and deaths. The Mass and beatification would take place on Saturday 11th November at the Palacio Vistalegre in Madrid. 


Enrique Pedro (“Pedrin”) Gonzalbez Andreu was born in Cartagena in 1910, and at the young age of 19 joined the Sons of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal a group belonging to the Society of St Vincent de Paul. A devout Catholic, he was becoming known for his writing and 23 of his articles had already been published in local newspapers. At the height of the Republican persecution of the Church in Spain in 1935 he wrote an article entitled “Denial” in which he encouraged his readers to confess their faith in Christ and God during difficult times, with a great love for the Catholic Church and his country. During the turbulent beginning of Spain’s Civil War, he was detained with two friends, Allepuz and Ardil, who would become his companions in martyrdom: the three of them would find encouragement in each other to give up their lives for God. Two days before his death Enrique wrote to his family: “To those at home, I know you have heard of the sentence against me. I am calm and pray you don’t give in to despair, trust in God, as I do. A hug to all of you, Pedrin”. At the age of 26, he was shot on the morning of 22nd September 1936, wearing his Miraculous Medal. Victoria´s family still has this medal as a precious relic, together with his last letter. Before dying, the three friends explicitly forgave their executioners. Enrique´s only fault was being a Catholic.




Before the Mass started, we were shown videos detailing some of the martyrs´lives, and Victoria even got interviewed by the local TV station! After the opening hymn, the beatification rite was beautifully conducted by Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the body of the Church that investigates cases that lead to the canonization of saints. Many parts of the Church joined the Cardinal in this celebration: families, priests, nuns, bishops and archbishops. in particular, Marco was pleased to see Rouco Varela, Archbishop Emeritus of Madrid and open defender of the Church in Spain’s “culture war” with former President Zapatero in the early 2000s. At the end of Mass, the choir was joined by the assembly in singing the “Salve to Our Lady of Charity”, a popular hymn from Cartagena, composed by one of the martyrs being beatified that day.


This was a wonderful experience for us, as not everyone can say they have a Blessed in their family, who can intercede for them. We witnessed how 60 ordinary people lived extraordinary lives, by truly living their faith in the face of adversity. The humility and courage with which they lived the last days of their lives is something which we all aspire to. For Victoria and her family, this day firmly united her family within the Church; for Marco, this experience brought him closer to his fiancé and her family.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Pull up a Pew #4 - Saints and Superheroes



   
 

It seems that every couple of weeks a new superhero film hits the cinemas, London Buses are permanently plastered with advertisements of muscle-bound heroes and heroines, caped and masked, ready to save the world… again. For us Catholics the idea that there are beings in or from another place, dimension or time, ready and waiting to help us is not so strange – after all, the saints we know, love and pray too also have uniforms, special powers and easily recognizable symbols . I’ve often used the superhero analogy when explaining the communion of saints to confirmation candidates so I was super-excited when I came across Maria Johnson’s latest book: Supergirls and Halos a fun and thought-provoking exploration of the world of lady saints and super-heroines. I recently had a chance to interview the author about her book and her own journey towards super-sanctity!


Tell us about yourself? How do you juggle family life, faith and writing?

Now that I am retired and fully enjoying the benefits of the empty nest, I thought I’d be writing more – but that hasn’t exactly been the case. When the children were little, and even up into their high school and college years, I would set aside special time to write. But now, I find that having all that “extra” time gets filled with volunteering or enjoying spontaneous outings with my husband. I’ve gone back to a writing schedule in the very early morning. I dedicate that first hour or two of the day to prayer and writing, and that way, anything I do later in the day is a bonus!

                                       
                               

What inspired you to write this book?

The idea that the heroes in popular culture have some value for talking about virtue has been on my mind for decades. It’s only been in the last decade or so, with a reawakened faith, that I can see the value of this exercise through a faith lens. When I saw that there was a Wonder Woman movie being made, it hit me like a bolt of lightning! This is a book for our time. So many of us are seeking something…the good…which you and I understand is God. But so many people are seeking and not finding the Truth. I wanted to write a bridge for them. To speak to them where they are in the culture, and point them toward the saints, toward the Blessed Mother, who will lead us to Jesus. I start with Wonder Woman and write about Our Lady of Guadalupe in the last chapter.


Who was your favourite saint and superhero as you were growing up?

My favorite hero was definitely Lt. Uhura from Star Trek, but I can’t remember having a favorite saint. The Blessed Mother was always a presence in our home, especially under the title of Our Lady of Charity, so maybe my favorite was Mary! But really, I probably had an unfavorite saint in St. Teresa of Avila. That’s a long story, but it involved having to attend a lot of my mother’s school reunion lunches. She went to a Carmelite school and so I took it out on St. Teresa when I’d have to give up my Saturday afternoon to visit with my mom’s childhood friends. St. Teresa and I have made up and become friends since those days.

                                

Wonder woman was the first female superhero to star in her own film. What do you think female superheroes bring to the table which is distinctive and helpful to us mere mortal ladies?

The superheroines on the big screen give us a chance to have adventures vicariously. It would be cool to fly, or control nature, or have the strength to throw a railcar across a shipyard. It’s not very useful to me on a daily basis, but it’s cool. But you know, being able to throw a train, and having the temperance or prudence not to do it…that’s meaningful. We see heroines on the big screen control their powers, or use them for good, and we can be encouraged to do the same. I don’t have much use for picking up cars, but really, I have a weapon in how I use words. Modeling that temperance, that self-control, in how I use my words is also a heroic act. I can destroy or build up. The Superheroines teach that. Wonder Woman, especially, because she’s in the culture right now, is an even greater example of how as women, we can lead with love. I’m sure we’ll see it next month in the release of The Last Jedi, where we’ll not only see Rey tackle a hero’s journey, but we’ll see a glimpse of General Organa (Princess Leia) lead with spiritual motherhood. It’s a wonderful time for girls and women to see these heroines on the screen.



Every superhero has her nemesis or weakness, what do you think stops women from becoming saints?

In the book I describe these hindrances to our holiness as capes. Remember in The Incredibles, Edna Mode refused to add a cape to Mr. Incredible’s suit? She said capes got in the way of his work. We put on capes in our lives that hold us back from holiness. Sin, of course, is what I’m talking about. While we might not be able to avoid sin, we do have powerful tools in our faith utility belts. We have frequent reception of the sacraments, reconciliation and communion! We have prayer and devotions! We have the rosary!


How do you avoid the risk of trivializing the importance of the saints by comparing them with imaginary caped crusaders of various shapes and sizes?

That’s such a great question because, of course, my intent is to inspire! I start each section by talking about the heroine and identifying her human virtues and strengths. These characters exhibit a kind of heroism that is over the top, in your face. They are characters that popular culture hold up as role models. I acknowledge that they have traits that are admirable and worthy of emulating, but then I introduce the saint and discuss the same kind of virtue in the context of the cardinal virtues. I point out  the very human experience of the saint. Heroic virtue, as exhibited in the lives of saints, is presented not only as the ideal, but attainable. We are all made to be saints and are all capable of heroic virtue in our lives.


What are your hopes and dreams for this book?

I hope this book inspires women of all ages to release the capes getting in the way of leading lives of holiness. Too often we think Sainthood is unattainable, that somehow the Saints have some extra ingredient that makes them Super-Holy. That extra ingredient is Grace, and it is freely given to us, not earned. We all have the makings of sainthood. I hope this book shows the way to real heroic virtue. And I hope it entertains, inspires, and brings out the saint in each of us.


Monday, 23 October 2017

Let's All Dance for Life



 
It was September 2015 when my super active pro-life eldest son, Ettore shared a link to our Facebook about a very appealing event.

I had always heard stories told by my parents in law of the beautiful dinner dances organised by the Italian community in London once upon a time... wonderful dresses, incredible food and amazing music, and the even more extravagant stories told by one of my sisters in law who constantly attends posh dinners, banquets and balls.

I loved listening to the tales of these wonderful parties but felt maybe they weren't for us. I still dreamt of one day attending a ball, where long dresses would float around the room, and gentlemen would look dashing in their tuxedoes and where live music would fill the air.

I didn't have to wait long for my dream to come true... that link my eldest son had sent me directed me to an event organised by the Good Counsel Network ... not just a dance for the sake of it but .... A PRO LIFE CHARITY BALL!!!

Full of enthusiasm I phoned Pierpaolo who obviously had to tell me to calm down,  I then phoned my sister telling her she had no choice but to come, did the same with my sister in law who attends the many wonderful parties... got a few other members of the family excited and within minutes filled a table... God had granted me my wish...

Yes it was a lot of money for us but the fact that it was for the greatest cause imaginable... that of helping this great organisation to offer a choice to the poor mothers who assumed abortion was their only choice, was worth every penny... even if that meant eating pasta or beans on toast for the next two months.

The day of the ball arrived and the dress was slightly too tight... and it was not because I had eaten too much in the previous days.. we were going to attend that very same pro life ball with a secret we wanted to keep for ourselves... a new life would be our chaperon and not just for the ball but, God willing for the next nine months and more... Yes! that long awaited baby number 6 was finally on the way.


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The journey (may not have been by limousine, we went in Big Blue ...our very old 9 seater Caravelle)  was great fun, we all felt like a million dollars inside and we were determined we were going to dance the night away and enjoy ourselves as we always do when we are together.

The venue was very elegant, the food delicate, the wine abundant, the waiters polite and the company superb. The time for the speeches arrived and one of the many mothers who had  received the GCN support, spoke with strength and firmness. She brought tears to my eyes as she stood there with her gorgeous little daughter.

As the band played the first dance the music took us and real fun began...

I will remember that night dearly!

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On our way out I thanked the organizers for the wonderful evening and promised I would bring more people the following year.

The count down to the Good Counsel Network Pro-Life Ball 2016 began as we stepped out from the hotel...


 The money was even shorter for the 2016 ball... Maria Bernardette was born on 18th July 2016 and I was on unpaid maternity leave. That wasn't going to stop us either. It was for a good cause and we trusted in God's providence anyway. I found my dress on Ebay for about £20, borrowed my sister in law's bag and wore my mother's posh cape once again. A few more people joined our table...


Maria had a great time too and another successful night was spent among family, old and new friends... Maria fell asleep just in time for the dance and we went home once again full of joy and looking forward to another year.



A year has already passed, the dress is ready (in fact it has been ready since June....) and the Pro-Life ball 2017 almost here.

This year unlike the previous years we won't be going in 10 or 12 but rather in 30!!! Thanks to the generosity and openness of  the many beautiful women and men who have happily accepted a simple invitation to a ball, a ball that, as it did for Cinderella, will change the life of not just a woman but of a future Mother and her child for whom we danced the night away!

If you'd like to join us it's still not too late!