We are Church – Reformation 500 Project

We Are Church International is asking all WAC Groups around the world to take part in an international action to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

We want to highlight the 5 aims of WAC. The date chosen is the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 theses for reform, which he nailed to the door of All Saints Church in Wittenburg on 31 October 1517.

We are asking our members to organise vigils outside your local cathedrals and churches on Sunday the 29 October 2017. Attached is a sample poster. PLEASE do take a photo of each group and email it to colmholmes2020@gmail.com.


  • The attached poster has a simplified list of WAC’s 5 aims, which we can use to make into posters.
  • We ask all our members to display these posters outside churches on Sunday 29 October 2017. You might make some larger prints of the poster. And you might make photocopies of the poster to hand out. The vigil should only be for maximum one hour – maybe as people arrive or leave the main Mass?
  • Please arrange to take photos outside each church and send the photos to colmholmes2020@gmail.com to publish on WAC websites / social media. Even ONE person with the Poster can be photographed. Please identify the churches when you send the photos.
  • Our aim is to have photographs from at least 500 different locations around the world.
  • And another aim is to have photographs from all 6 continents.

Poster to Download












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  1. Mary Vallely says:

    I’ll certainly be standing outside my own cathedral in Armagh before the 11 am mass on Sunday 29th October and anyone willing to join me can be assured of the warmest of welcomes! Many I have spoken to already about this event are supportive of reform but it is no easy task to get people to take an actual stand.
    I came across this quote which I thought was rather apt.
    ‘The vision must be followed by the venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps – we must step up the stairs’. (Vance Havner)
    So I am asking people to step up and take a stand on the steps of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh which is in the most glorious setting looking over at our sister Church of Ireland St Patrick’s Cathedral on the opposite hill. You could make a day of it and explore this ancient and unique ecclesiastical capital often described as a miniature Rome with its seven hills.
    This is an appeal to those in the area or to anyone who can travel easily to Armagh though there will be other churches where you can also stand in support of reform. It is a gesture of solidarity and not a protest but a gesture is important to show the world that we care passionately about justice and that we need Reform NOW!

    1. Phil Greene says:

      Mary, thank you for the invite and hope it will be a joyful occasion for you all, I am unable to avail of your invitation but will indeed be joining a group in Dublin; I asked Colm to update me nearer the time and he is happy to do so.
      Like you I found people supportive but unable to attend on the day, busy lives I guess..

      Someone reminded me of a lady who some years ago very publicly asked for a strike on a certain Sunday , got great media coverage for the day , but it never materialised, a failure.. but this was a gesture of protest not as John O’Neill @3 suggests “a vigil for change” … Pope Francis has had his failures too, particularly in relation to how remarried couples are treated in relation to receiving Holy Communion.. but he has not yet given up..
      The saying “ Don’t be afraid to fail.. Be afraid not to try” springs to mind!
      So now I wonder if the doors (gates) will be open..? As mentioned before on this site.. the silence is deafening! I can understand (but not completely agree) why it might be in this case, bad experiences may have shown that it is better to keep the head down and say nothing, at least publicly..
      But people need to know that their priests understand their need to be treated as adults, and that they can act as adults with differing opinions without fear of reprisal. Reprisal may take the form of diminished responsibility in the parish, or a knowledge that they may be replaced (immediately or in the foreseeable future) on a committee or just seeing their name appear less and less on the readers rota… simple things, but with a great impact on people’s sense of self worth.. All these are forms of bullying by the way and would be grounds for grievance in employment legislation within a work environment.
      So please, let your parishioners know about this project (from the pulpit if possible), discuss it in an open, positive, non- judgemental way with them and advise your councils/co-ordinators to do likewise.. we cannot read your minds!
      In the ACP’s recent article on 30th Sept – Most Rev Vincent Long Van Nguyen – “breaking open priesthood”, Bishop Long’s address includes the following
      I am not suggesting that the lines of distinction between the ordained and the non-ordained be erased. Rather, each one should complement, rather than stifle the other..
      Pope Francis in a recent address stated that he wanted pastors who can “imbue hope” and “have sun and light in their hearts, to lovingly and patiently support the plans which God brings about in His people.”

  2. John O'Neill says:

    A possible statement of purpose for use on the day?

    Statement of purpose
    This is a vigil for change. It is not a “protest”. We are not “rebel” Catholics. No one holds a public protest against their own family. We do not come here out of protest or rebellion. We come to the Church only with love. We are its children.

    500 years ago, a reformation of theology brought schism. We call today for a reformation of the heart of the church that will be, instead, a reunion.
    A reunion between the women who have been denied their right to serve in priesthood and deaconate, despite undeniable evidence from the Gospels that several of Christ’s most important disciples and friends, and material supporters, were women, and the church that they so greatly yearn to serve and that so greatly needs their ministry.
    A reunion between the church and those who know, with full integrity of conscience, and considerable evidence from scripture and Christian experience, that the callings to marriage, parenthood, and priesthood need not be mutually exclusive.
    A reunion between the LGBT Catholics who make up a much-greater-than-representative percentage of the people in our pews, and of our clergy, our religious, our hierarchy, the lay employees of our church, the volunteers who make it possible for our parishes to exist, the employees of Catholic schools and hospitals and other institutions – and the church to which they are so essential; a church that still, despite their many wonderful gifts, denies their full value as Catholic Christians and as part of the Body of Christ on Earth, denies the simple, unalterable truth of their lives and identities, and denigrates their lives and relationships.
    A reunion between those who have been the victims of clerical abuse – we would state specifically that we are not here in accusation, this matter is coming to revelation by the actions of others, and we pray for their task – and of the homes, the laundries, the reform schools and other institutions, and the Church that still must complete the work of acknowledgement, acceptance and healing that it knows is the only way for it to come to a restored integrity.
    A reunion between the altars of our churches, and those who have been cast far from them by the Church’s unnecessary fixation upon an outdated, inhumane and counter-productive morality of sexuality, reproduction and marriage.

    Five truths, not ninety-five. Five simple truths which, if addressed and acknowledged at the heart of the church, could make this century decades not of decline, but of resurgence. On the anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation, we propose a Renaissance. A rebirth. A new life, a new vibrancy, a new energy.
    No-one could wish any better for their family.
    May God Bless and guide us all.

  3. Mary Vallely says:

    Written from the heart and out of great love for Christ, humanity and the Church, John@3. Just think it is slightly too long but how could anyone disagree with the truth of it?
    We comment a lot on this site about poor translations in our liturgy but there are such glaring injustices towards women, towards married priests, towards the LGBT community, towards loyal dissenters. As Joan Chittister points out,
    “The establishment is always loyal to the very institutionalism of the institution in question. The dissenter is always most loyal instead to what the institution itself claims to be about.”
    It makes me wonder if we are following in the Master’s footsteps at all.

  4. Mary@4, surely it is possible to find the way to the Master through the experience of the Mass, which is why I and I`m sure many others believe it is so vital to get it right in terms of the language used in it, the music, the postures, the relationships. You are quite right, however, that it shouldn`t end there: though it doesn`t get the emphasis it deserves, it`s about bringing news to the world outside the church.

  5. Mary Vallely says:

    I understand the depth of your concern, your passion and obvious sincerity about the language used in the mass, mjt @5, but surely we should be fighting harder by our actions to put right the huge injustices I mentioned above. It is by our actions that we show we are Christ followers. Our hearts should be on fire with rage against any form of discrimination. I suppose we each have different priorities and I appreciate yours and mine differ in emphasis. (Maybe see you at the cathedral on 29 October?)

  6. Mary, I think we might be on the same side here – my point would be that if the first were done right, everything else, all those issues you are so aware of, would be understood differently, and then everything would have to be seen in new light and progress could then be made on those. I believe for there to be a chance of that happening so much has to be done first at that level if there`s to be a chance of that, from the way church buildings are ordered, to the ways the faithful meet and contribute and interact in liturgy, and, the language we use -it`s about realising a vision of the people of God in worship that came from V2, the faithful in a particular place meeting to celebrate and prepare to live in the world again with the Spirit alive them. How often does our worship at present bring such to us? Do you think many people could be imbued with the fire of love by the dreadful cumbersome abstractions we must cope wwith at present? If not our liturgy, what else could inspire people to work actively for the noble goals you champion?

  7. There is of course more to the Christian life and search for God than “Mass”.

  8. JonhnM @8, Of course there is, but in liturgy we have the meeting of the faithful as a community, in the public sphere, where the foundational things of our faith are affirmed and celebrated. There is for one example the concept of the presence of Jesus in our neighbour, the people in the pews around us, which should affect our conduct to them in relation to many of the issues on Mary`s list above. After that we go back into life in the world carrying the fruits of that liturgy. If our experience of it is right, we will carry its power into the world with us. If it`s merely a routine conducted perfunctorily and couched in a language of some other age, it`s less likely to affect us very much.

  9. “…in liturgy we have the meeting of the faithful as a community..” I have attended many churches in different countries. In an Irish (and UK and German speaking in Northern Italy) Catholic church at Mass there appears to be less sense of real community and joy than in the pub.

  10. Richard O'Donnell says:

    Sadly,John M @ 11 above is right.

  11. Mary Vallely says:

    Just to make a correction to my post @ 1. We will not be standing on the steps of the cathedral but outside at both gates. It is not a protest but a vigil, a gesture of solidarity with other reform- minded people. All of us there with a deep sense of the Spirit moving in our lives and the wish to embrace all those who feel marginalised because of much that is wrong with the present structures. We are all ‘family’ and it is right and fitting to make this small gesture of reaching out to those who feel shut out. To echo what John says @5, “May God bless and guide us all.” ( Meeting at 10 am at the back of the cathedral unless there is a funeral in which case we will move the vigil to an hour before the 5.30 evening mass.)

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