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Priest composes rite for Mothering Sunday 'runaways'

10 March 2017

Sonya Doragh

Happy: the Revd Sonya Doragh, with husband and one son

Happy: the Revd Sonya Doragh, with husband and one son

A SERVICE for “Mother’s Day runaways” will be held at Liverpool Cathedral on the eve of Mothering Sunday.

The service, at 6 p.m. on Saturday 25 March, has been created for people who tend to avoid church on Mothering Sunday. It allows for the “bittersweet” emotions that the day can arouse.

The Team Vicar of Eccleston, the Revd Sonya Doragh, spoke this week of the “bizarre mix of grief and lament” that she felt on the day. Unable to have children as a result of being raped at the age of 17, she went on adopt three “lovely boys” (Features, 1 May, 2015), but still feels a sense of unease amid the celebrations.

”I am no less a mum because they are adopted; but their story and my story have sadness in the back­ground,” she said. As a vicar, she has buried both mothers and children, and is “acutely aware of those not in church” on the day.

”It seems heartbreaking, on a day when we are celebrating family, that in our immediate community some people feel excluded, because their own grief means celebration is slightly out of kilter with their own experience or emotions.”

She created the Runaways service in partnership with Saltwater and Honey, an online group that enables people to share stories of childless­ness. It will include a liturgy, written by Mrs Doragh, that refers to God as Mother, and features a commitment to God’s family (”No matter how much or how far we may want to run and hide, God calls us back into his family”). There is also space for testimony.

The response to publicity surrounding the event suggested that “we are definitely scratching an itch that many have felt,” she said. “Not just those who do not come to church, but lots of church leaders are saying: ‘Thank goodness: I’ve always wanted something like this, as so many of the congregation do not come.’”

Writing the service had been a form of release, she said: “It was in me waiting to get out,” and it had enabled her to marry her academic research with worship.

”My soul in this wants to praise God from the shadows. Lament has been a big part of my worship and prayer life, because it has had to be. If my relationship with God can’t contain the grief I have, it can’t contain me.”


Materials are available from http://saltwaterandhoney.org/contact-us or by email at sonya@doragh.co.uk

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