Each year from 23rd–31st January, we celebrate ‘Mary Ward Week’. Mary Ward was born on 23rd January 1585 and died, sixty years later, on 30th January 1645. Mary Ward Week is a chance for all members of the Mary Ward family, including IBVM and CJ sisters, Friends of Mary Ward, pupils at our schools and people connected with our other ministries, to celebrate all we have received from ‘that incomparable woman’ (Pope Pius XI).
This year on 27th January, our General Superior Jane Livesey CJ was invited to give the sermon at Great St Mary’s, the university church of the University of Cambridge. She preached on ‘The Strength of Vulnerability’, drawing on the example from Mary Ward’s own experience of vulnerability:
‘I would like to issue each of us with an invitation this morning – to ponder on those people who, through the strength gained from the experience of their own vulnerability, have re-kindled the light for us at times when it has been at least temporarily extinguished. As a society we are frightened of a lot of things and we turn them into taboo subjects – failure is one of those things, pain and suffering are two others, disability another, death – the ultimate experience of vulnerability – another. However, if we consider for a moment those people whom we most admire I would hazard a guess that what we most admire about them is not how successful they are or how much they have achieved, but how they have dealt with the most difficult things which we have to face in life – with pain, with suffering, with failure, with vulnerability. My purpose in this Sermon has been to argue, from the lives of some of those who have helped me to learn to be more vulnerable and less well-defended, and one in particular, that vulnerability can be one of our greatest teachers and if we can stand our ground in the face of it, our lives are and will be so much the richer, not least because one of the many things vulnerability and failure can teach us is to be less judgmental – less judgmental of other people and even less judgmental of ourselves, learning a little better to look at each other and ourselves with the loving gaze with which God looks upon each one of us.’