We were delighted to welcome over 140 delegates to our newly named ‘Catholic Leaders and Clergy Conference’ on 10/11 November 2022. The delegates consisted of included the chief executive officers from our four Catholic Education Trusts, headteachers, executive headteachers, heads of school, deputy headteachers, trust personnel and Diocesan education team staff.
Bishop Robert opened the conference by welcoming everyone and thanking them all for the inspiring work going on in our Diocesan schools. He was followed by Canon Simon Lerche, Episcopal Vicar for Education. Canon Simon spoke specifically about the successes and challenges of the recent academisation process and the increasing challenge of recruitment to leadership posts in our schools and nationally.
Dr Sr Gemma Simmonds, a sister from the Congregation of Jesus, director of the Religious Life Institute and lecturer in pastoral theology at Heythrop College, University of London joined us to deliver two keynote speeches. She spoke engagingly about her life, the opportunities that she has had and the people that she has encountered. She also talked about the challenges facing the world at this time and how we, as a diocesan family of schools, can be agents of hope for our pupils, students and families by ‘being’ the mission of the Church.
Throughout the conference we were led in prayer by Jo Boyce from CJM music. Her beautiful voice and creative approach to prayer provided us all with quiet reflective time.
The conference concluded with a wonderful celebration of Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral. An orchestra and choir made up of Bishop Chadwick Trust pupils and staff led the music ministry. The singing and music were incredible especially the moving bugle rendition of the Last Post to end the minute’s silence marking the Armistice.
Many of the delegates commented about how important it was for them to take this brief time away from schools to be inspired, receive formation and to meet up with colleagues from across the whole Diocese. One delegate commented, “This is a yearly must for me in my diary, it is something that I always look forward to, it energises me.”
We would like to thank those who were able to attend the conference. It was great to have the chance to be together as a Diocesan family to share joys, laughter, support and friendship. We hope to see you all again at our conference next year.
View a collection of images below taken at the Conference and Mass that followed.