‘I always say God works in such mysterious ways,’ says Jessy Carolina Mottram-Noé and when you hear about the path taken to reach her role as a Liverpool Archdiocesan pastoral associate, it is impossible to disagree.
Until 2012 she had been working in a marketing job in her home city of Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. Today, she is living in Huyton with a Liverpudlian husband and working from the Widnes parish of St Wilfrid’s, covering the churches of St Michael's, St John Fisher, St Bede’s and St Basil’s.
It is a post she feels ‘blessed’ to have but first things first: just how did she end up here? ‘There was a voice inside my heart which kept saying two things to me,’ she explains. ‘I wanted to volunteer but doing something a bit deeper and not just part-time. And the other thing, I wanted to go Europe. And it was always the UK.’
With a laugh, she adds: ‘People were always asking me, “Why the UK?” and at the time I still didn’t know.’ Nor did she know anything about Liverpool when her initial placement in London fell through and instead she chose an opening at the Leonard Cheshire Disability Centre in Woolton. ‘The options were Sheffield, Liverpool and Southport. Immediately I was like, “My dad loves the Beatles, the Beatles are from Liverpool!”.’
It was during that year that she met Karl, her future husband, on a train bound for London – ‘We just started chatting,’ she grins – and this led to her eventual return to Liverpool following the end of her 12-month posting.
Building a life here, with the ‘amazing support’ of Karl and his family, she began volunteering once more – with both the Across and Marriage Care charities – and she drew on the ‘examples of solidarity and compassion’ offered in her youth by her parents, older brother and sister and Grandma Lila. ‘We’d volunteer at an HIV-Aids centre at the weekend,’ she recalls. ‘With my family I grew up like that, working in nursing homes, orphanages, rural schools and with the Missionaries of Charity.’
If the arrival of her first child this coming July will help with the process of putting down roots here, she has already gained a cherished sense of community via her work in Widnes. ‘The people here are so welcoming,’ she says, ‘and the best thing is that sense of belonging.’
The team of clergy who have welcomed her comprises Father Joe Bibby, Fr Michael Fitzsimons, Fr Bill Murphy, Fr Carl Mugan and Bishop John Rawsthorne – and the possibilities of the pastoral associate post certainly excite her. ‘For me, Synod 2020 is very important,’ she says. ‘It’s following Pope Francis’s call about accompanying people. Two words that have stayed with me so far are “accompanying” and “listening”.’
She goes on to cite the significance of the Livesimply and outreach initiatives under way in Widnes – the latter including English lessons for those settling into the area from abroad – and also expresses her wish to engage with young people across the parish. ‘I’ve noticed, unfortunately, this age gap,’ she reflects. ‘I wonder, “Where are they and what are they doing?”.’ It is a noteworthy point of comparison with Masses back in Honduras – and not the only one.
‘Latin people are a bit more euphoric and the music is a bit more lively,’ she observes, hence her delight on discovering that St Wilfrid’s celebrate a monthly Mass for children and families. ‘Last week even a bit of fishing during the homily was done!’
As she was saying, God really does work in mysterious ways.