The 23rd June is set aside by the United Nations as International Widows’ Day – a day to support and remind governments, people and organisations of situations particular to widows and their children around the world.

As International Widows Day approaches, we congratulate Mrs Maisie Haslett who was selected by Bishop Ken Good to attend the Maundy Thursday Service at Windsor Castle in recognition of her work in St Columb’s Cathedral as Parish Reader and her vision in setting up the Widow’s Friendship Group, affiliated to Templemore Mothers’ Union. This, as far as we know,  is a Mothers’ Union initiative unique to Derry and Raphoe.

Asking God for guidance, in 2001, Maisie set up this very intimate group in response to her own experience of isolation and loneliness following the sudden death of her husband.

Each member of the group found they had something in common and time out from their grief. They could unburden themselves of worries, seek advice and share stories of family and friends. A speaker is arranged for each meeting to encourage each member to embrace outside interests. Maisie’s God given vision and her ability to follow through has brought comfort and friendship to many women at a time in their lives when they need it most.

The Widow’s Friendship Group meet on the first Monday of each month in No 1 St Columb’s Court and new members are always welcome.

A Prayer for International Widows’ Day                             

Merciful God,

We pray for the widowed in the challenges they face as they adapt to a different way of life:

for those who struggle with loneliness

even when surrounded by family or friends, for those who struggle with faith in you

because the partner whom they loved, and still love, is no longer with them 

for those who see tears as a sign of weakness or self-pity.

for those who struggle in cultures where traditions stigmatise widows and deny them rights.

May each one receive grace enough to truly grieve their loss.

May there be glimpses of hope that life can still have purpose.

May happy memories be a source of strength.

May your loving kindness enfold each one.                                   Amen