History of the Grail Movement
The Grail was started in 1921 as the Women of Nazareth by Fr Jacques van Ginneken, a Dutch Jesuit. He felt that many new possibilities were opening up for women and that a group of lay women, unconfined by convent walls and rules, could make an immense contribution to the transformation of the world. By 1939 the Grail had become a colourful movement involving thousands of young women in Holland, England and Germany, challenging them to deep personal and spiritual commitment.
The Grail was started in Australia in 1936, in the USA in 1940, in Brazil and South Africa in 1951, in Uganda in 1953, in Portugal in 1958 and subsequently in Tanzania, Ghana, Nigeria, Italy, Mexico, Canada, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Mozambique, Kenya and Sweden. Grail members are also working in Belgium, Belize, Cape Verde, Egypt, France, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Malaysia, Switzerland and Zimbabwe.
The work varies very much according to the needs of the country and the gifts of those drawn to the movement, but always we seek to make our vision practical and effective, never limiting our work to humanitarian aid, but attempting to improve the quality of life and to build a society which recognizes, in words and deeds, the dignity of all human beings and the value of all creatures.
As the Grail has continued to grow, through several generations and in all continents, it has developed into a world-wide movement of women and has gathered into itself a rich experience of different cultures and environments, social involvements and spiritual journeys, life situations and commitments of persons and groups
Ecumenical in its perspective over many years, the Grail has become at the end of the 20th century, an ecumenical movement, open to the ways of other religious traditions and to expressions of genuine spiritual search which are consistent with its identity and integrity of purpose.
The Grail acts also as part of the civil society, taking its stance in the public arena, and collaborating with others with similar values and goals.
The differentiated world of nation States and unique cultures is being forced to confront such global realities as the common responsibility of humankind for the Earth, the power of electronic communications and the necessity for a new global ethos. In this context, the Grail is called to give expression to its vision and mission with new responses to new challenges and needs.