Updated 11 April 2018

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President’s Report for the AGM 8th April 2018

A big welcome to Monica Ovel, the newly appointed President of the Union of Catholic Mothers in Clifton Diocese.  Also to our Worldwide President, Lynne Tembey.  We believe it was in the mid eighties that this Diocese last had a visit from a WWP.  We are so fortunate to have her with us for this weekend.  She has travelled from Yorkshire to be with us for these three days.

This year the theme is “Following in Mary Sumner’s footsteps …

“  Quite a challenge but one I know all our members are keen to take on.

I’m delighted to report that the number of branch members for 2018 has gone up from 599 to 612 and Diocesan members from 39 to 47 and IMPC from 53 to 60:  an overall increase of 28 members.  However we do still need to think creatively about how to increase our membership – and how to attract younger members.  After all Mary Sumner’s first meeting was organised for young mothers who needed help with parenting – now we appear to be mainly grandmothers – many of whom are now struggling with the increased work load of looking after young grandchildren and so are unable to give more time to Mothers’ Union.

This really does impact on our organisation because as we are now in the third year of the Triennium we need to start thinking about who will be standing down and who will fill the gaps on the Trustee Board for the next three years, 2019-2021 .  We have a Board of 11 people and 5 are standing down either because they have served six years or for personal reasons. The remaining Trustees are our Deanery Leaders, Linda Rawlings, Di Henry, Barbara Tooby and Cathy Reynolds; also Anne Pope who will continue to lead on Policy matters and myself.  We are losing two Vice Presidents – Rita Brereton and Margaret Smith – our Diocesan Treasurer, Pam Mills; our Central Services co-ordinator, Chris Pope;  and Mary Head, who should have had a break after her six years as President but came back to head up our Action and Outreach as there was no-one else.  I am most grateful to all these people for the support they have given me in my first three years and I am going to miss them.    And it leaves us with major gaps– the first is a need for a Diocesan Secretary.  I mentioned this last year but we are still looking!  This is a gap that we’ve coped with for several years.   We have managed because Chris Pope and Pam Mills have done a lot of the work that should be done by a secretary, and I’ve managed to fill in by doing a lot for myself – but they’re now going.  The other major need is for a new Diocesan Treasurer. I am willing to stand for another three years as President if the right support is in place and if that is what you want.  However, If we can’t find a Secretary,  I am suggesting one partial solution – that I should take a sideways move and become Diocesan Secretary (full-time) if the right person could be found to be President.

I am telling you this because you, the members are responsible for finding and nominating the people who are going to fill these roles.  Job descriptions will go on the website during this month together with a copy of the nomination form and I ask that you please go away to pray and think about who might God be calling to help run Mothers’ Union in this Diocese.  We’ll soon hear who our new Bishop is to be and we want to be ready to take up any challenges that may come our way under his or her leadership.

I also want to mention three things which are new to Mothers’ Union this year.  You will all have been asked to fill in one of these forms when you paid your subs this year so that your data could be part of the central membership database.  This has come at the right time for the organisation as we are now having to deal with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).  Branch leaders have more information about what needs to be done to become compliant with the new regulations and we’ll be adopting new policies for the Diocese before the end of May. The new database means that members’ data will be kept more securely than ever before – much safer than having it all on home computers or printed sheets and it will be easier for us to comply with GDPR.    I’ve written about this fairly fully in my newsletter and I do hope that if you have been reluctant to give details that you will change  your mind and make sure that you have completed one of these forms which then needs to go to your Deanery Leader.  Please do not withhold information – once the database is up and running we can all have control of our own data and it will only be used to keep you up-to-date with MU news and information.

Please do speak to me if you still have concerns about giving your personal details to the MU and I hope I will be able to reassure you about the security and use it will be put to.

MULOA:  Mothers’ Union Listens, Observes, Acts:    Linda Rawlings and I will be running a workshop using the MULOA toolkit on Monday afternoon in Swindon and then at a branch meeting at St Peter’s Filton. We would love to be invited to your Deanery, branch or your parish to show you what it’s all about: MU Listens – we hear your stories and what you have been able to achieve; observes – looks at what we can learn from the Bible and then see what you would like to do and how any obstacles can be overcome;  acts – make plans for the future and pray together.

Alongside this the new updated Mothers’ Union website will be launched at the end of the month.  It should be more user friendly and what I have seen of it looks very impressive.

I want to draw your attention to what is coming up this year:  

First “Thy Kingdom Come”. As last year there will be a time of prayer between  Ascension and Pentecost:  10th – 20th May. There is a special website with resources.

As always, look out for the special Mothers’ Union summer appeal and respond if possible.

This year the General Meeting and Annual Service will be in Swansea in the Brangwyn Hall.  As a Diocese we are being allocated 10 tickets only – limited seating at the venue – so if interested you will have to contact Pam or me.  There is a pack available with full details.  

I want to close my report with thanks:  first to the Vice Presidents, Rita, Margaret and Anne,  and to all the Trustees who have supported me through the year.  

My final thank you is to all of you for coming today and for all you do for the care of families in your parishes. Some words of encouragement from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians:

Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith; be people of courage; be strong.  Do everything in love. ....

And the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.

Aurea Hart

DP Bristol