UCM Goes to Guernsey, 6-9 May
It was time to revisit the Island. A warm welcome awaited the 70 plus mainland members, including husbands, National President, Mrs. Sheila Goodchild, and Fr. Joe Gruskiewicz, Spiritual Advisor, all flying on 6 May for the Diocesan AGM at the St. Pierre Park Hotel.
Other guests at the hotel included a group of Chelsea Pensioners, resplendent in their Red uniforms, and Ghurkas, all there for the Liberation Day celebration!
Saturday 7 May members, including several Guernsey members, gathered for our AGM. Mrs. Val Pearce, Diocesan President, welcomed everyone. We were delighted with the recent increase in membership on Guernsey, including some younger members which is good for the continuation of the foundation.
Mrs. Pearce spoke on our role in relation to our young ones – targeted and exploited by the media etc. all with the unwitting consent of parents, governments and schools, urging us to continue to support the watchdog organizations like Bye Buy Childhood, Safer Media and Mediawatch. Our children of today make the society and culture of tomorrow.
Reports from the various officers including Welfare, Study Days, Justice & Peace and Media followed then talks from Fr. Joe and Mrs. Goodchild.
Fr. Joe concentrated on Pope Benedict’s visit saying its success is a sign to us all. He spoke about the Beatification of John Henry Newman and that we have much to learn from his teachings; his a life spent in two parts which he likened to that of John Paul II whose early years were spent under tyranny. Both men struggled either with conscience or adversity and came through to be rocks of the church.
Mrs. Goodchild spoke of the importance of taking office. UCM cannot succeed without officers at all levels. If we value our organisation then we must be prepared to stand and be counted. She urged us to pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance – we must have faith in prayer.
Mass at mid-day was concelebrated by Canon Michael Hore, Fr. Joe and assisted by Deacon David Morgan. A finger buffet lunch followed and we finally concluded our business at 4pm with tea.
The remaining time was for leisure. Entertainment was arranged for Saturday and on Sunday evening the members’ talent for entertaining impressed and delighted all of us.
Sunday morning we were taken by coach to St. Joseph’s church for the Parish Mass, celebrated by Fr. Joe. The Guernsey ladies provided us with an excellent buffet lunch. In the afternoon by coach, we toured along the narrow lanes visiting Les Vauxbelets, then along the north coast and back to the hotel. Since our previous visit Stations of the Cross had been sited at the chapel with the 8th Station dedicated by the UCM – The Women of Jerusalem mourn.
One last gathering for Mass - sadly we heard that the Deputy National President of UCM, Mrs. Maureen McVann, had died and Fr. Joe kindly said Mass for her on Monday after breakfast. Monday was Liberation Day and we too were free to join the celebrations; some went to an Ecumenical Service in the north of the Island, most went into town to see the parade and absorb the atmosphere.
Some highlights of the visit – officially Mrs. Goodchild was interviewed by the Guernsey Press but two members, down at the quayside, were invited to comment on the Celebrations, their picture and remarks appeared in the paper the next day.
Pat Durrant – Media Officer, Portsmouth