THE Union of Catholic Mothers is an organisation (or Catholic married women founded in 1913 at the express wish of Cardinal Bourne, from its parent organisation, the Catholic Women's League.
It grew in 1923 to having groups in 10 dioceses, /when a formal' constitution was granted, and it was known from then until 1938 as the Catholic Women's League, Union of Catholic Mothers, when it took its present name of the Union of Catholic Mothers.
The four objects of UCM are:
I. To help Catholic married women to appreciate the sacramental character, responsibilities. and permanence of marriage, and to live in unselfish love observing God's Law:
2. To assist them to bring up their children as practising Catholics and public-spirited citizens; 3. To teach and defend Christian values in family life, and to ensure for their children Catholic education; 4. To offer love, sympathy and practical help to the family in difficulty.
Membership is open to all Catholic married women, Single Catholic women and non-Catholic wives of Catholic husbands may become associate members. The question of membership of the "lone mother", for whatever reason, is often raised, and consultation with the parish spiritual director is advised.
UCM is a registered charity, and has an approximate membership of 20.000.
There arc six sub-committees of the national committee:
The Catholic Mother magazine: The editor and her committee publish twice a year, in May and November, and news, together with members' own contributions, are included.
Study Days: These are held annually at national level, with encouragement for follow-on at diocesan and parish levels, International: The chairman and committee disseminate information to members on international affairs, and they have contact with the 36-million strong World Union-of Catholic Women's Organisations of which UCM is a full member.
Walsingham: Organised by a chairman and committee, a pilgrimage to Walsingham is held each year on the first Tuesday in July, drawing great numbers to the Shrine of Our Lady, patroness of UCM. Rest Home Service: UCM has a Rest Home Service which is available to all and is subsidised by members' voluntary contributions. This help for the tired or sick mother is often sought in emergency such as bereavements, and appeals have been met from the social services.
Parish groups, which cover about one-third of the hierarchy, are known as foundations. and for the running of these there 'are no hard and fast rules, groups being organised for individual needs in different parts of the country. Every help is given to the parish priest, with the inevitable bazaar, fair, etc, and preparation of First Communicants' breakfasts. The broom and the duster are wielded cheerfully, and laundering of linen for the church undertaken with equal zest, but in contrast to the founding members, this same "ecclesiastical char'l will take her place on the Bishops' Commissions, etc.
The Public Service Officer keeps a careful watch on parliamentary matters, a wary eve on current affairs affecting the family, and alerts members when it is necessary for unity to he seen.
Whatever "big works" are undertaken by UCM, none is more important than that carried out by the mother in her home: All things considered, UCM exists to help the mother to preserve the sanctity of family life and, in the 60-plus years of existence, UCM can look back on much activity and some achievement.
D. W. Townsend