A History of the Catholic Women of the Year Luncheon

Over 40 years ago the Catholic Women of the Year Luncheon was first mooted. Its two main objectives were to pay tribute to Catholic women who gave outstanding service to the Church and to raise funds for the Jinja Group. Since 1987, different charities have been chosen every year.

The theme of the luncheon is changed annually to reflect the concerns of Catholic women around the world and is presented by our keynote speakers each year with the intention of providing a forum where Catholic women can meet and discuss issues that affect them deeply.

The organisation would never have got off the ground without the determination, drive and contacts of our dynamic first chairman, Pamela Weisweiller. The first committee meeting took place in January 1969 and the first Luncheon on May 13th of the same year. Over 100 women attended and this success led to today’s 200+ guests.

In recent times 28 charities have been chosen and we have been able to distribute in excess of £52,000 which has been raised from donations, a raffle and the Luncheon itself.

From its small beginnings, the Catholic Women of the Year Luncheon has flourished, providing a unique opportunity for Catholic women to meet and discuss issues such as the Abortion Act in 1969 and the Human Embryology Bill of 2008. Among others we have listened to Cardinals Hume and Murphy O’Connor, in addition to being spiritually refreshed and laughing with The Two Fat Ladies and Professor Paul Williams. Above all else we have marvelled at the depth of faith and love epitomised by our elected Catholic Women of this and every other year. Thanks also to those who have been unsuccessfully nominated. We thank God for the opportunity to hear and be inspired by our fellow women.

The survival and growth of the Catholic Church in this country down the ages has often depended on the faith and determination of women. The original objectives of the Luncheon 40 years ago were to honour Catholic women for their work in the Church and to raise money for charity. Those objectives are as necessary now as they ever have been. Ad multos annos.