Report from West London Justice & Peace Network Meeting, 23 January 2021

Report by Maggie Beirne, West London Justice & Peace Network Co-ordinator

Despite the pandemic, justice and peace work is going strong in West London!

Justice and peace activists in parishes across the west of the diocese normally meet three times a year, and they have now moved to zoom for these get-togethers.  So, on Saturday 23rd January, some dozen or so people gathered from Ealing, Feltham, Hanwell, Hayes, Osterley, Pinner, St Margarets on Thames, Wealdstone and West Acton to discuss their work during the pandemic and their plans for the months ahead.

The invited speaker was Colette Joyce, Westminster’s Justice and Peace Commission Coordinator.  Previous contributors have given presentations on CAFOD, Pax Christi, A Rocha UK, media work, and the Westminster Social Justice and Peace Forums on youth involvement, poverty, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.  Topics are chosen to reflect the breadth of issues of concern to local parish groups. 

Colette provided an update on diocesan justice and peace efforts as we head into the new year including: tackling rough sleeping in central London and free school meal provision; her work on school assemblies and with the Diocesan Education Advisers in preparation for Racial Justice Sunday; online events in relation to Peace Sunday; and preparations for COP 26 and efforts around climate change. She also conducted an informal poll to ascertain levels of support for ten possible Justice & Peace issues and then asked participants what they would focus on next month if they had to pick only one? If forced to choose amongst those mentioned, there was a feeling that priority ought to go to housing/ homelessness, racial justice and human rights. Participants also wanted to include many more issues!

Most of the time at these regular network meetings is devoted to discussing what is happening at parish level – and there is lots!  So, in a round-table report on activities, we learnt that – despite some churches being closed (where the parish priest has tested positive) and/or other parishes restricting numbers of people attending Mass – CAFOD Harvest collections proceeded as planned in many places, and plans are afoot to mark CAFOD’s Lent Fast Day (on 26 February).  Where envelopes cannot be distributed, there has been a push for contactless devices, promotion of online payment options, and active use of parish newsletters/homilies/prayers/saying of Masses to alert parishes to the great need.  

Similar communication tools were used to promote Peace Sunday (17 January) and the excellent work of Pax Christi (, and in preparation for Racial Justice Sunday (31 January), the work of groups like CARJ (the Catholic Association for Racial Justice is being actively promoted.  On this latter point the resources provided  for Racial Justice Sunday by the Conference of Catholic Bishops of England and Wales (CCBEW ( were highlighted.  Our own White City parish has shared how they had used homilies and zoom meetings with parishioners to explore racial inequalities and injustices in the church and wider society. 

Most of the people present try to ensure that justice and peace themes are inserted routinely into parish work – e.g. in Advent/Lenten preparations, Stations of the Cross, regular bidding prayers etc.  Quite a bit of this work is also undertaken with or by other parish groups (e.g. SVP, prayer groups) and by way of inter-faith/ecumenical efforts.  For example, most parishes have some involvement in local foodbanks (hosting one, providing volunteers, distributing official vouchers); some offer night shelter support; and nearly all have Fairtrade status, and promote Fairtrade amongst parishioners. 

For some parishes, Fairtrade efforts are their main way of engaging with justice and peace work; in other parishes, it is one of many activities engaged in.  Certainly, the fact that the Westminster diocese is now an accredited Fairtrade diocese was warmly welcomed.  Publicity and activities to mark this milestone have had to be delayed because of the pandemic, but there are now plans being made with the Cardinal to celebrate the achievement in Fairtrade Fortnight 22nd February – 2nd March 2021. This will, of course, also then give West London parishes who are still not accredited Fairtrade parishes an opportunity for a further push on this issue at parish level.

So – justice and peace work is alive and well at parish level! But we know we can always do more – accordingly, there is always a call for more volunteers, and also for strong public messages from the hierarchy & clergy that justice and peace is central to the work of parish life.  The pandemic has constrained us in some regards but has emphasised the value of good communications and inter-action even when our church buildings have to be closed or less used.  Newsletters, accurate parishioner records, streamed Masses, Zoom links, informative websites all contribute to the sense of parishes carrying on God’s work regardless!

There is always so much to do at parish level, and meetings like this West London network one highlight how much is already underway.  They refresh the spirit and resolve, and cheer everyone up!  If readers would like to know more please contact the Commission – maybe there is a Justice and Peace group in your parish?  Or would you like to be the parish contact for such work?  Why not come along to one of the events Colette is laying on to encourage more gatherings like this West London network? 

Saturday, 6th February 2021, 10.00am – 12.00pm
East London Justice & Peace Network
Deaneries: Hackney, Islington, Marylebone and Tower Hamlets
Register in advance with Eventbrite

Saturday, 20th February 2021, 10.00am-12.00pm
Central London Justice & Peace Network
Deaneries: Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea, North Kensington and Westminster.
Register in advance with Eventbrite

Monday, 8th March 2021, 7.00-9.00pm
North London Justice & Peace Network
Deaneries: Barnet, Camden, Enfield and Haringey
Register in advance with Eventbrite

Hertfordshire Justice & Peace Network
Please contact Colette if you are interested in taking part or helping to arrange this meeting.

Contact Colette Joyce for more information or queries – Mob: 07593 434905 Email: