Holy Father confers papal Damehood on Kate Griffen for services to education

The evening sun was radiant last Wednesday 31st May, the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, when parishioners and many visitors gathered at the Church of St Edmund of Canterbury, Whitton in Twickenham, London.

All were present to celebrate with Kate Griffin the Holy Father’s decision to confer upon her the Damehood of the Pontifical Order of Saint Gregory the Great, and this was her Mass of Investiture with Cardinal Vincent presiding and conferring the damehood on behalf of Pope Francis.

Concelebrating were Parish Priest, Fr Nigel Griffin, Kate’s husband, and many priests. Also present was a strong Anglican contingent including the Archdeacon of London, the Venerable Luke Miller, and friends and associates of Fr Nigel from his earlier ministry as an Anglican priest.

In his homily Cardinal Vincent described the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to St Elizabeth as her bearing to her cousin the light of Christ, the Light of the World, and which brought such joy to St Elizabeth and to St John the Baptist in her womb.

This bearing of Christ’s light he saw, too, in all those dedicated to the ministry of Christian and Catholic education. He referenced Kate’s many decades of service in this ministry and some of her key contributions.

As a former successful headteacher, Kate has given generously of her expertise both to Westminster and Plymouth Dioceses at executive, governance and trustee levels; at national level through the Management Committee of the Catholic Education Service; and even at international level through the International Confederation of Principals of which Kate, in 2008 and 2009, was the first Briton to be elected President.

After a joyful Mass beautifully prepared by many parish volunteers, a magnificent reception followed in the parish school, St Edmund’s, of which the parish and school could also be justifiable proud as they certainly were also of Dame Kate Griffin and of their Parish Priest, Fr Nigel, whom the Cardinal also particularly thanked for his ministry in the parish.

By Canon Michael Dunne
Chair, Diocesan Education Commission, Westminster

Photo: Paul Hampartsoumian