Our world is full of signs of hope. They surround us every day. They come as daily strivings to establish, maintain, express or consolidate efforts to attain something both desired and difficult to achieve. No matter how fragmented our world, no matter how lacking in overall vision, there are countless fragments of hope.
What kinds of fragments do I mean? They are often the experiences of our daily lives to which we respond with warmth of heart, a quiet smile of gratitude and admiration: a neighbour’s kindness, a friend’s compassion, the utter generosity of a friend, the creativity of a gifted person brought to a good purpose. These stories do not fill our newspapers; but they do fill our hearts and encourage us along the way.
These fragments express the strivings of hope and are themselves generative of hope in others. We can see well enough how each of them is a tiny masterpiece designed to strengthen a hope that something difficult will be achieved: the relief of suffering, the faithfulness of love, the ending of poverty, the creation of new jobs or new wealth.
More challenging is to see how these tiny fragments are in fact pieces of a mosaic, the ‘tesserae’ which when brought together can make a fine and inspiring work of art. Indeed, through our relationships we assemble a larger picture, of which we are all part, thereby strengthening the generative capacity for hope.
In the social sphere, our identity as social beings, whose fulfilment is bound up with that of others, finds expression. More importantly in this place, hope is something carried by the community and not just by the individual. For a common project or goal that is difficult yet possible to attain, one week I may be full of hope and cheer you along; but the next week your commitment and belief stirs me from my apathy and despondency.
These are some of the ways in which we can bring together isolated fragments of hope into a wider and more coherent picture. The more we construct and contemplate that picture, the more we are encouraged to seize some of the difficult things we know are for our good and believe that they are achievable.
As St Thomas Aquinas reminds us, the ultimate good towards which hope compels us is the mystery of God. Hope directs us towards God, the source and summit of all good: Goodness itself. Our reason for hope, then, is the never-ending mercy of God, who pours out his life that we might see and live again. In the pages of this Annual Report are the stories of people, groups and communities who strive to strengthen the signs of hope in every part of the diocese. Together, they form a mosaic of a Church whose service to the most vulnerable in our society is rooted in the love of Jesus Christ, who is the model of service and our ultimate hope.
I am most grateful to them all. I extend my gratitude, too, to those who compiled this report and the Annual Accounts.
His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster
To view and download the current published accounts, please click here