The Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary

  • The Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary (ESBVM) exists to advance the study at various levels of the place of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Church, under Christ and of related theological questions; and in the light of such study to promote ecumenical devotion. Its aim is to show that, in the Blessed Virgin Mary, Christians of many traditions may find a focus in their search for unity.
    Prayer for the Society God our Father, through the Blessed Virgin Mary you gave your Son to be our Redeemer; send your blessing on the Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary; so that strengthened by your grace, enlivended by by your Spirit, and renewed in the One whom Mary bore, your Church may grow in the unity You desire. We ask this through Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord.
  • Social media

  • Contacts

    General enquiries (UK & international)
    Fr Bill, OSM
    Hon General Secretary

    General enquiries (USA)
    Dr Virginia Kimball, Chapter President

    Membership (UK & international)



    Web site

    ESBVM is registered in the UK as a charity. No. 282748

ESBVM Dublin @ The National Gallery of Ireland – April 11th 2015

Posted by esbvm on March 29th, 2015

Mary Hodegetria – She Who Shows the Way

Photo © National Gallery of Ireland

A talk to be hosted by the Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary [ESBVM] by kind permission at the National Gallery of Ireland at 2pm on the 11th of April 2015.

The re-launched Dublin branch of the Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary [] has organised a talk in conjunction with the National Gallery of Ireland on the 11th of April at 2pm in the lecture room of the gallery. The talk is part of the current exhibition on the Baroque Saints that has been running since February and will finish in May. The venue of the lecture is National Gallery of Ireland Lecture Room.

The talk is on the icon ‘Mary Hodegetria’ – she who shows the way – with particular emphasis on the Gallery’s own icon Virgin and Child, St. John the Baptist and Prophet (see below). The National Gallery of Ireland acquired the icon in 1858 which is c1325 from the Constantinople School on egg tempera and gold leaf on wood. The talk will also cover the history of icons.

The speaker is Br Martin Browne OSB of Glenstal Abbey who has long links with ecumenical work in Ireland and beyond. Br Martin Browne OSB is a Deacon-monk of Glenstal Abbey in County Limerick. He is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin and Durham University. He serves on the editorial board of the ecumenical journal One in Christ, and is Chairman of the Council of the Glenstal Ecumenical Conference.

Those interested in Mary and her role in ecumenical dialogue as well as art enthusiasts are all welcome!

For more information please contact Dr Mary Frances McKenna, chair of the re-launched Dublin Branch of the ESBVM on e-mail or at  086-8786517.

Click HERE for a poster / flyer advertizing this event.

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ESBVM USA Call For Papers

Posted by esbvmusa on November 22nd, 2014


The Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary USA (ESBVM USA) exists to advance the study of Mary, the Mother of Christ, in Christian biblical and spiritual perspectives, and in the light of such study, to promote ecumenical interchange and prayer. Its aim is to show that, in Mary, Christians of many traditions may find a focus in their search for unity.


CONFERENCE THEME: The Virgin Mary in Christian Dialogue: Controversy, Convergence, and Vision

CONFERENCE DATES: 7-9 August 2015

CONFERENCE LOCATION: Misericordia University, Dallas, Pennsylvania, USA (near Scranton/Wilkes-Barre)


ESBVM USA is looking for perspectives on the progress and implications of previously published dialogues about the Virgin Mary from a variety of Christian denominations. We ask that you present on developments within your own particular tradition. So, for example, an Evangelical Christian could present on the findings of the Evangelical dialogue partners written in Do Whatever He Tells You: The Blessed Virgin Mary in Christian Faith and Life, A Statement of Evangelicals and Catholics Together.

Additional published dialogues include, but are not limited to the following:

  • The One Mediator, Mary, and the Saints (1991, American Lutherans and Catholics)
  • Mary, Sign of Grace, Faith, and Holiness: Towards a Shared Understanding (1995, British Methodist-Roman Catholic Committee)
  • Common Declaration: Pope John Paul II and Catholicos Aram I Keshishian, Rome, 1997
  • Mary in the Plan of God and in the Communion of Saints (1999, Groupe des Dombes: French Reformed, Lutheran, and Catholic)
  • Pastoral Agreement between the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa, Cairo, Egypt 2001
  • Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ (2004, Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission)

The following are possible considerations for your presentation:

  • What, according to your tradition, are the key biblical passages considered in the dialogue that you are analyzing and why?
  • What does your tradition consider the most difficult theological issues that have been broached in dialogue, and what progress has been made?
  • How do conclusions drawn by the dialogue partners that you are considering compare with the cultural and devotional practices in your tradition?

Please submit proposals consisting of a 350 to 500-word abstract and your contact information to the review committee at



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19th International ESBVM Congress 2014 – ‘Christian Perfection, The Immaculate Conception and Contemporary Thinking on Holiness in Christian Traditions linked with the ESBVM’

Posted by esbvm on September 11th, 2014

Magdalene College, Cambridge


19th International Congress of The Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary (ESBVM)

Monday 22nd September – Thursday 25th September 2014

Theme: ‘Christian Perfection, The Immaculate Conception and
Contemporary Thinking on Holiness in Christian Traditions linked with the ESBVM’

Keynote Speakers and Papers

“Difficult Dogmas: Can Methodism’s Christian Perfection and Catholicism’s Immaculate Conception help in understanding each other”
Revd. Dr. Richard Clutterbuck Principal of Edgehill Theological College, Belfast.

‘Holiness and the Sovereignty of Grace: Mary’s Discipleship’
The Master of Magdalene, The Most Revd. & Rt. Hon. Baron Williams of Oystermouth

“The holiness of obedience and thanksgiving”
His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop Coptic Orthodox Church United Kingdom

“The Queenship of Mary in the writing of the Fathers”
Fr. Pierre Najem, OMM, Vice President for Administration & Director of the Center for Digitization and Preservation of Manuscripts, Notre Dame University- Zouk Mosbeh, Lebanon

‘Bruised, hurting and dirty’: a Marian Ecclesiology for a church of the poor.
Dr. Gemma Simmonds CJ, Heythrop College, University of London

ESBVM is delighted that our gathering at Cambridge has had a good response.

Many details of planning have been slowly finalising and we are grateful to our contributors, participants and wider membership for their patience.

We have happily reached our allocated number of residential delegates for the Congress but a small number of rooms has been made available to us by the College for any very last minute bookings. Please download latest programme details + booking form .and contact ESBVM Congress organisers immediately FAO Mrs AJ Gate and Hon. Gen Sec.

Our reliance on dedicated officers – all volunteers – prompts a special expression of thanks at this stage and we hope that as always the understanding of our ESBVM Congresses as not ends in themselves but a means of bringing to the attention of a wider community awareness of the work of the society in this delicate area of Ecumenism to which ESBVM is dedicated will bring further interest and a growing participation.

A Congress folder is in preparation and will be ready for Congress participants’ collection at Registration on arrival at the CRIPPS COURT CONFERENCE CENTRE, MAGDALENE COLLEGE CAMBRIDGE CB4 3AD.

We look forward to meeting up with longstanding and new friends and members of the Society.

We ask for prayer for the success of our 19th International Congress.

May it lead to fresh vigour in the life of the ESBVM.

Wishing a safe journey to all taking part and good wishes to ESBVM at large and to all our friends,

In Christ and His Blessed Mother,

Father Bill, OSM [Hon. General Secretary]
Mrs AJ Gate [Associate General Secretary]
Mr Kevin Gate [Congress Treasurer]

Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
Ss.Peter & Paul, 112 Entry Hill, Bath BA2 5LS
01225 832096 e-mail: /

Posted in Conferences & Congresses, News | 1 Comment »

ESBVM Canterbury Branch Relaunch

Posted by esbvm on July 19th, 2014

ESBVM Canterbury Branch is holding a ‘Relaunch’ of the branch with an Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary occasion to be held in Canterbury Cathedral Crypt, by kind permission of the Dean and Chapter of Canterbury Cathedral, offering an evening of music, words and reflection for the Feast of the Assumption, on the 15th of August at 7pm in Canterbury Cathedral Crypt.

Guest speakers on the nature of the feast across traditions, the Greek Orthodox tradition of the Dormition and the Protecting Veil, shared views and points of departure and the special interest the feast has held for artists and composers across the centuries. Speakers to include: The Very Revd. Archimandrite Vissarion Kokliotis Priest in Charge, Greek Orthodox Community of the Archangel Michael, Margate Revd Jon Ehlers Pastor, Christ Lutheran Church, Kent Fr. Valentine Erhahon Curate, St. Thomas of Canterbury, Burgate

Music Programme
Assumpta est Maria Morales Palestrina
Exaltata est Sancta Dei genitrix Byrd
Gaudeamus omnes in Domino Tavener
The Dormition from the Protecting Veil

The branch has had a great history in the past and we hope to see past members of the Branch still in the area and to interest new participants in the society.

Free admission / All welcome

CLICK HERE for a PDF poster advertizing this event.

FURTHER INFO: about the society from / 01225 832096
and the local branch via

Posted in News, UK branch reports | No Comments »

Ordination of Fr David McDonald to the Priesthood

Posted by esbvm on July 12th, 2014


The Rev’d David McDonald, member of the ESBVM Council for many years, was ordained to Priesthood in the Catholic Church by the Rt Rev’d Declan Lang, Bishop of Clifton, on Friday July 11th at 11.00am in St Gregory’s Catholic Church, 10 St James Square, Cheltenham.

Fr Bill OSM, Hon Gen Secretary of ESBVM, who concelebrated at the Ordination during Holy Mass, represented the ESBVM, along with Mrs Irene Rich and Mrs AJ Gate. Our heartiest congratulations, prayers and good wishes. Ad multos annos.


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Possible relaunch of the ESBVM Gloucester Branch

Posted by esbvm on July 12th, 2014

There are hopes of a revival of the Gloucester Branch in the near future and members in the area are invited to advise the Hon. Gen Sec of any interest and willingness to assist in this renewed effort, using the contact form below or by post at ESBVM HQ, c/o St Peter & St Paul, 112 Entry Hill, Bath BA2 5LS [please note the change of address for ESBVM HQ].

Posted in News, UK branch reports | No Comments »

Ordination of Fr Alan Williams SM as Bishop of Brentwood

Posted by esbvm on July 12th, 2014


The Rt Revd Alan Williams SM, a member of the ESBVM Council for many years and former Director of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, was ordained as Bishop of Brentwood on July 1st 2014 in Brentwood Cathedral by HE Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster.

Fr Bill OSM, Hon Gen Sec of the Society, was among the concelebrants at the Episcopal Ordination during Holy Mass, which was concelebrated by a vast number of the hierarchy including one of our Patrons, HE Cardinal Cormac-Murphy O’Connor.

Fr Bill represented the ESBVM along with The Rev’d Augustine Hoey [now resident in Walsingham], Mrs Margaret Durnford and Mrs AJ Gate [Associate General Secretary]. Bishop Alan is a Marist and among the Bishops present was his fellow Marist Bishop Tom Burns and a host of Marist Sisters also attended. Our deepest congratulations, prayers and good wishes go to the new Bishop. Ad multos annos.

Bishop Alan has graciously agreed to be a patron of the forthcoming ESBVM 19th International Congress to take place at Cambridge, Sept 22nd-25th 2014.


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Memorial Mass for Mr Frank O’Brien R.I.P., Saturday June 7th 2014

Posted by esbvm on June 6th, 2014

The ESBVM Newsletter sent out in February gave notice of The meeting of the ESBVM AGM 2014 which is once again graciously to be hosted, by kindness of the Prior, at the Carmelite Priory, 41 Kensington Church Street, London, W8 4BB in the Refectory Room and is on Saturday 7th June 2014.

A Memorial Mass will take place at 12.15 in the Carmelite Priory Church 41 Kensington Church Street London W8 4BB for our deceased Treasurer, Mr Frank O’Brien, whose first anniversary will occur at this time. This Memorial Service but it is a moment when members of the Society might easily be together. We will, of course, be remembering others of the ESBVM who have also gone to the Lord in recent times. Members are asked to call to mind those who have died and to advise the Hon General Secretary by email of any deaths of which one is aware.

Coffee will be available from 11.30 am for those who arrive before the time in the church and those who come later, while others are attending the Memorial Mass, may enjoy engaging in conversazione.

There will be no AGM Lecture this year.

Please bring packed lunch / hot drinks will be provided / AGM commencing at 2.00pm and closing by 4.00pm.

February 7th, 2014’s announcement was the formal & the required notification of the corrected date of the ESBVM Annual General Meeting.

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Recent Additions to the ESBVM Pamphlet Archive – Fr Mark Elvins R.I.P.

Posted by esbvm on May 30th, 2014

Over its history, the ESBVM has published a large number of pamphlets by respected theologians of the traditions that make up its membership. These are now being made available as a free-to-access online archive as downloadable PDF files and using the YUDU magazine publishing facility.

Recent additions to the archive include the two pamphlets written for the Society by the recently departed Fr Mark Elvins:

The Origin of the Title ‘Dowry of Mary’ and the Shrines of Our Lady at Westminster, Fr Mark Elvins (Download as a PDF)
Our Lady and the Ecumenical Movement, Mark Elvins OFMCap (Download as a PDF)

The full archive can be seen on our Publications page. If the pamphlet you want is not yet available online, email the publications secretary and that title will be prioritized. Please note that this is a free service offered by an organization with limited income and no paid staff. We cannot commit to any particular timescale in making a requested title available, although we will endeavour to do so in 10 days to a fortnight. Requests for pamphlets needed for essays, articles, term papers &c should be submitted as early as possible.

Posted in News, Pamphlet archive, Publications | No Comments »

Father Mark Turnham Elvins, OFMCap R.I.P.

Posted by esbvm on May 9th, 2014

The Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary (ESBVM) reports with sadness the death of Father Mark Turnham Elvins, OFMCap, (November 26, 1939 – May 1, 2014) and extends sympathy to his community and many friends.

A member of the ESBVM Council and a contributor to the Society’s publications, Father Mark was an inspirational and at times provocative figure both within the ESBVM in its early years and as a broad promoter of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary echoed in his paper ‘The Origin of the Title `Dowry of Mary’ and the Shrines of Our Lady at Westminster’, Mark Elvins, ESBVM 1989, and the demands of an ecumenical addressing of her place in ecumenism in his ‘Our Lady and the Ecumenical Movement in the Light of her Maternal Patronage’: a paper given to members of the Canterbury branch of the Society on 27 September 1997 (Wallington: ESBVM, 2000)

Mark Turnham Elvins was born on November 26, 1939 at Whitstable, the son of an Anglican clergyman who had been Rector of St Mary in the Castle, Dover and died of cancer at Oxford on May 1, 2014. Educated at Dover College, St Stephen’s House, Oxford, Beda College at Rome, the Pontifical Gregorian University, and Heythrop College, where he received a Master of Arts from the University of London. He also was awarded a Graduate Diploma in Spirituality at Milltown Institute, Dublin, Ireland.

At the beginning of his career, Elvins passed into Sandhurst but opted for the Territorial Army serving with the Honourable Artillery Company, eventually reaching the rank of Captain in the Royal Army Chaplains’ Department. In civilian life he began by working as a gallery manager at St James’s Gallery in Jermyn Street, central London, and as Assistant Editor of Debrett’s Peerage.

Following his theological studies at St. Stephen’s House, Oxford he was ordained an Anglican deacon.

On Christmas Eve 1968 he was received into the Catholic Church.

He was ordained a priest at Arundel on Easter Sunday 1973 and was Assistant Curate at Arundel Cathedral and Chantry Priest to the Duke of Norfolk from 1973 to 1979. From 1980 until 1990 he served at St Mary Magdalene’s parish church in Brighton, holding additionally the post of Chaplain to the Master of the Worshipful Company of Scriveners of the City of London. From 1990 until 1993 he was parish priest of Henfield.

In 1999, he was professed in the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. During the academic year 2005-2007, he was the Roman Catholic Chaplain to the University of Central Lancashire and following the retirement of Dr Nicholas James Richardson in 2007, Elvins was appointed Warden of Greyfriars, Oxford. Upon the dissolution of the permanent private hall he was appointed Guardian of the friary (Greyfriars) from 2008 to 2011. He served as a Capuchin Provincial Definitor from 2006 to 2011.

Throughout his life he was particularly concerned for the homeless and was the founder of Simon House in Oxford (1967), St Thomas Fund for the Homeless in Brighton (1980), and Becket Homes in Canterbury (1997), as well as being a co-founder of the Thomas More Legal Centre. In 2011, his combined Marian concerns and his regard for the Poor prompted him to found Regina Palestinae (Our Lady of Palestine), a charity for the support of poor families in Palestine.

In 1982, Elvins was appointed an Ecclesiastical Knight of Grace of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George and Chaplain and Council Member of the British and Irish Delegation of the Order. In 2003, the Order awarded him the Gold Benemerenti Medal. He was also a Chaplain of Magistral Grace of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes, and of Malta.

He wrote as both Mark Turnham Elvins and Mark of Whitstable and his published writings include: Catholic Trivia, Towards a People’s Liturgy: The Importance of Language and ESBVM publications.

The Heraldry Society holds an annual Mark Elvins Lecture.

A Requiem Mass will take place in Oxford on Monday 19th May at 11.00am at Greyfriars. Parking has been arranged at the Rugby Club. His funeral will be in North Wales on Tuesday 20th May.

May he come to that full share of the Resurrection in the hope of which we all live. Requiescat in pace.

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