The President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, the Mt Rev Vincent Nichols, has paid tribute to Mildred Nevile MBE, former General-Secretary of the Catholic Institute for International Relations, who died on Sunday, 2 September.
“Mildred Nevile’s life was one of extraordinary faith, courage and dedication. As we mourn her death and pray for the repose of her soul, we thank God for the witness she gave and the work she did advocating the rights of the poor and challenging injustice internationally.
“Mildred’s long life is an important part of the story of the Catholic Community and the application of Catholic social teaching in this country, linking us back to Cardinal Hinsley and the ‘Sword in the Spirit’ movement, founded in 1939 ‘to work for the establishment of a just peace.’
“Inspired at the moment of her reception of the Sacrament of Confirmation as a young woman and by her involvement with the Young Christian Workers, Mildred joined the ‘Sword in the Spirit’ in 1959 as its education secretary. In 1965 the movement became the Catholic Institute for International Relations (CIIR), predating PROGRESSIO, CAFOD and the many Justice and Peace groups with which we are now familiar. Mildred became General Secretary of CIIR in 1967, serving in that capacity until 1985. Her commitment to the plight of the hungry, deprived and oppressed people involved work in Vietnam, Rhodesia, South Africa, the Yemen and South America. The building of practical solidarity, the advancement of well-structured volunteer programmes and the development of an effective education and human rights advocacy role were some of her considerable achievements during her leadership of the CIIR.
“Mildred lived through many changes in our world, our society and our Church. Her love for the Lord, the ‘hero’ she found at her Confirmation, gave Mildred an unwavering commitment which was combined with a gracious respect for all she met and a deep love for the Church. All her work and efforts were undoubtedly sustained by a life rooted in prayer. It is in prayer that we must now remember her, commending her soul to the merciful arms of the Saviour.
“We shall miss her. We shall continue her work. We pray for her today and in the months to come.”