A short history of CPW.


Like many good ideas, CPW began as a conversation between friends. Almost 75 years ago, three lay Catholics recognised that lay people of their generation had a hunger to understand their faith better.

In the late 1940’s and ‘50’s Europe was recovering from two World Wars and previous certainties were being challenged. In the decades to follow seismic changes would take place in the world of politics, economics and human rights. The Catholic Church would not be immune from these changes as demonstrated by the documents produced by the Second Vatican Council at the beginning of the 1960’s.

CPW's founders, Reg Trevett, Dom Ralph Russell and John Todd, had the wisdom, foresight and inspiration to found an organisation which would help many lay Catholics prepare, engage and participate in the Church as it changes.

Cardinal Newman famously said, “To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.”

Whilst we might hesitate to call CPW perfect, we have been prepared to change often over the years.


The inclusion of children gave the residential courses the flavour of a holiday. The formal courses gave way to week-long periods of study for the adults, undertaken purely for the joy of learning, with fun sessions organised for the children and young people.

The courses were initially held in an Oxford College, then Catholic Boarding schools during the holidays. Now we use schools, colleges, convents, monasteries, youth hostels, retreat centres, hotels and Church halls, adapting our events to suit the venue.

In 1990 we introduced walking holidays,  where reflection and prayer formed an essential element of the day’s progress.

In 2015 we held our first cycling week, following the ancient pilgrims way to Canterbury.

In Autumn 2019 we are planning to hold our first stand-alone annual lecture in London.

We live, we change, but most of all, we continue to seek the face of God, today.