The Second World War left many young women widowed all over Europe. In France, a small group of widows often met together in prayer. In 1943, thirty of those young widows made a retreat at Lourdes, and some of them pressed their desire to commit themselves to God and formed ‘The Fraternity of Our Lady of the Resurrection.’ In September 1957, during the ‘International Congress of Family Organisation’ in Rome, Pope Pius XII spoke on the Spirituality of Womenhood. The fraternity which had now taken root, came to be known as ‘The Hope and Life Movement’ and spread to Belgium, Spain, Portugal and Africa.
A young woman, Antoinette D’souza from Santacruz, introduced the movement in Mumbai. In April 1985, Bishop Bosco Penha, had the first Recollection at St. Pius Xth Seminary in Goregoan with just 20 widows present. Within a span of five years, the number grew to 200 and Bishop Bosco suggested that every Parish should form such a group.
In 2005 the Movement completed 20 years in the Archdiocese of Mumbai and 50 parishes joined in celebrating the Widows Day event in February at St. Stanislaus Grounds Bandra. Bishop Bosco Penha was the main celebrant at the Eucharist. It was followed by a cultural programme which was enjoyed by about 2000 widows.
Our parish joined this movement in July 2001, with just a few members and over the years, we now have about 49 members. Our meetings are on the first Thursday of the month at 5.30 pm. We begin with a prayer, hymns, Gospel sharing or recital of the Rosary and inspiring talks by our Spiritual Director. We also have a sister from Fatima convent who helps us in our Spiritual life. The love offering which is collected during our meetings is used to help need widows meet their medical bills and we also get benefactors to help us out.
Our activities involve visiting the sick and lonely widows befriending them, paying condolences visits to the widows and joining in retreats, Recollections, Pilgrimages, Picnics etc. with the Andheri Deanery Parishes and also with the Movement.
- To help widows gain emotional stability
- To encourage widows to be prayerful, joyful and helpful
- To accept God’s will that widowhood is a vocation and to move on with faith and trust.
Our Blessed Mother Mary is a model for us widows. She lived a life of service and dedication. We want to imitate her commitment of love, concern for others and her faith. When a woman loses her husband, she is overwhelmed and sad, the movement brings her hope, life and vitality and inserts her more fully in the Church. It helps her realize that God alone is her security, joy and happiness, as Bishop Bosco told us that since God has taken our Spouse we must think of Jesus as our spouse and turn to Him in our difficult times.
Jesus Christ had a deep love for widows. In the Bible, He showed compassion to the widow of Nain, who had lost her son. He narrated the parable of the persistent widow, He appreciated the contribution of the widow’s mite. If we widows join together, we can make it the widow’s might. There are also a lot of reference of the widows In the Bible and how they are to be treated and about widows who placed their trust in God who never fails. Eg. Anna the prophetess, Naomi and Ruth, the widow of Zarepath and Judith.
In our parish, many of the widows (shy away) shun our meetings for reasons best known to them. We urge them to join us, let us put our forces together and see how God will work wonders in our spiritual growth and the support and courage it will give us to carry on life. Let us be like candles and burn for others, so that we diminish and others grow. Ask not for what the movement can do for you but what you can do for it let our love and fellowship grow and our moral support will reach out to benefit others.