Veronica, a former teacher of English, Drama and Religious Education, lives with her husband Sean, in the parish of St. Agnes at Eccleston, Chorley and joined the Pastoral Formation Department in June 2008.
Through involvement in various ministries within her local parish in Salford diocese, Veronica was invited by her parish priest to consider a one year part-time course in Pastoral Ministry being run by the Upholland Northern Institute. After completing this she began full time work as a diocesan adviser for adult formation and parish development. As part of her continuing development Veronica began a part-time Masters Degree in Religious Studies at Manchester University which helped to deepen her existing passion for scripture. Veronica says: ‘For me, one of the great gifts from the Second Vatican Council was the desire that everyone should have easy access to scripture and I feel I have received some of the first fruits of this imperative. Working with scripture really underpins my goals and strategies as coordinator for adult faith formation.
Veronica also works for the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales within the Department of Evangelisation & Catechesis and also for the Celebrating Family: Blessed, Broken, Living Love initiative. A short term temporary contract enabled her to contribute to the production of the Home is a Holy Place resource.
Mrs Maureen Knight
Advisor for Adult Faith Formation
Maureen began working for the department even before its formal launch in 1982. She trained and worked as a secretary and then as a co-ordinator of volunteers for the International Voluntary Service and became a member of Sefton’s Community Health Council. After completing her Open University course in community work with people with disabilities, she became secretary of the Archdiocesan Marriage and Family Life Committee. In February 1982 the Pastoral Formation Department was launched and Maureen became part of the team that was soon offering catechetical courses such as: ‘The Basic Course in Adult Christian Education’, ‘Servants of the Kingdom’, and courses of preparation for Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation, Marriage and Reconciliation. Maureen has been involved in many collaborative projects at local and national levels and co-authored the ‘Moments That Matter’ series for parents of primary school children and the ‘Celebrate Together’ resource for First Holy Communion. One of Maureen’s biggest challenges came in 1997 when she was responsible for coordinating the formation of over 1400 new Special Ministers of Holy Communion when the archdiocese introduced Holy Communion under both kinds at Mass. Maureen has also took courses in Bereavement Counselling at the Alder Centre and helped introduce the Rainbows programme for children who have suffered family breakdown or loss. She is now a Registered Director for the Rainbows programme.
Since the Irenaeus Project (http://www.irenaeus.co.uk
) began Maureen has been helping to lead retreats and days of recollection and she became a member of the Bishops’ Conference working group on spirituality. Currently Maureen chairs two committees in the archdiocese: The Children’s Liturgy of the Word Committee (http://www.liturgyoffice.org.uk/Resources/LOWC/index.shtml
) and ‘The Special Ministers of Holy Communion Committee’, both of which offer initial formation, continuing development, and days of reflection for those involved in these important ministries.
Mrs Maureen O’Brien
Coordinator for Marriage and Family Life Ministry
Maureen O’Brien lives in the parish of Holy Rosary, in Aintree and has three grown up children. Maureen began work as the assistant coordinator for adult faith formation with special responsibility for marriage and family life ministry in September 2009. Maureen was married for seventeen years and has been a single mum for twenty three years ‘so she can certainly relate to the many joys and sorrows that family life can bring.’ Maureen has worked in an array of roles throughout her career, the majority of which have been customer focussed which is a great advantage to her role.
Maureen’s own faith journey will also be a help when coming in contact with others in marriage and family life ministry who are themselves at various stages of their own faith journey. She describes that journey as, ‘an exodus experience as twelve years ago, after spending many years outside the church, I received an amazing outpouring of Grace in my life and the transformation of my life'. Maureen attended Hope University from 2005-2009 and gained her Foundation Degree in Pastoral Leadership. Maureen looks forward to making personal contact with parishioners and clergy across the archdiocese and offering pastoral support to all who are involved in the work of preparing and affirming Marriage and Family Life in the parishes.
Mr Steve Atherton
Field Worker for the Justice and Peace Commission
The Justice and Peace Commission highlights the importance of social justice issues and it tries to remind people that the church has a provocative mission to the world and in the world. Church is a place where we engage with, rather than escape from, the world. This duty of service brings joy not gloom.
Steve, a former drama teacher, lives with his wife Anne and their five children in parishes of St Mary and St John in Wigan. As a younger man Steve tested his vocation to priesthood in a religious community after leaving he later experimented with eastern religions eventually loosing his faith and declaring himself an atheist. Steve says that he was led back to the Church, ‘by a good woman, a good priest and a good God. I identify with Jonah who tried in vain to run away from God. I am gradually learning that my marriage and family life is my main vocation, modelling and explaining my relationship with God.’
Before his appointment Steve was a member of the Justice and Peace Commission for five years and also sat for a period as its chair. As a volunteer for CAFOD Steve was able to visit Bangladesh as a Millennium Awardee in 2000 where he saw first hand real poverty. He says: “I learned how to judge a day ‘by the seed we sow’ rather than ‘the crops we gather’.” Steve introduced the Craighead Institute’s Integrating Life and Faith course into the archdiocese where it has run for four years. He is an associate member of the Institute. And to keep him grounded Steve began the 19th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercise in March and has progressed slowly to day 4.
Mrs Eleanor Lalley
Sacraments of Initiation Coordinator
Eleanor Lalley, the Sacraments of Initiation Coordinator, lives in the parish of St Charles Borromeo and St Thomas Moore in Liverpool with her husband and five children. She joined the Archdiocese of Liverpool in September 2010 in order to support the Sacraments of Initiation project and develop new resources. The project focuses on the importance of parents and grandparents in passing on the faith to their children.
Eleanor has a Bachelor’s degree in Religion and a Masters of Theological Studies in New Testament and Christian Origins from the USA, where she developed a passion for scripture study. She has taught Religious Education to boys and girls in the UK and USA. Staying home with a young family for 13 years, she experienced how parishes are key partners in supporting parents to cultivate a Catholic culture in the family.