Chair’s Report, 2016

Chair’s Report for the 2015-16 Quest AGM, Scarborough Campus of the University of Hull YO11 3AZ Friday 22nd July 2016

The year 2015-16 has included several new initiatives for Quest to develop, details are given below. For all that we have done and continue to do I have to first and foremost thank the whole of the National Committee for their hard work over the past twelve months.

The much anticipated Apostolic Exhortation from Pope Francis, Amoris Laetitia (Joy of Love), in April created a huge response from numerous Catholic and secular organisations. Many were negative about the lack of reference to LGBT issues, whilst others were more cautiously optimistic. Quest, thanks to Terry Weldon, responded by pointing out that we as an organisation have been working on the pastoral care for LGBT people for over four decades and now have an even more valid position and status to continue doing our work, as so much of the Joy of Love focuses on pastoral care. The Joy of Love allows for a continued and seamless segue into what we started a while ago in our conscious effort to engage with Priests, Bishops and Cardinals, as well as non-religious groups such as Stonewall whom we can offer advice and support to the sadly neglected pastoral needs of LGBT Catholics.

It is gratifying to see the initial take up by Quest members for the Stonewall Role Models scheme now beginning to start their visits and talks in schools. Stonewall are hugely impressed with Quest and our members. Their inaugural Inter-Faith event which was very successful is now going to be a regular event and Quest have been approached to be more closely involved in it. I took the opportunity to speak to Ruth Hunt, their CEO, about taking their School Role Models to the next phase by going and talking to Parish Pastoral Councils. This has greatly excited Stonewall and form an initial meeting this initiative is being steadily progressed. Stonewall, as I mentioned earlier, are very impressed with Quest and want to work with us so that we can deliver training for trainers for their Schools Role Models project. This is good news as it does lead us to pastures new for growth and wider recognition.

At a meeting I had with Bishop Peter Doyle of Northampton in February, the Bishop said that he would recommend Quest to his colleagues. It is thanks to him that an invitation to meet with Fr. John Lee and Fr. Peter from the Pastoral Care Services in Portsmouth came about. Accompanied by Committee member Fr. Kieran Fitzsimmons, much was discussed about how to identify and provide for the needs of LGBT people in their parishes. Plans are being set in motion for Quest to present a talk in a Portsmouth diocese Parish Council this year. This process could easily be replicated other parishes and dioceses. Talks are also taking place to hold a training day for clergy. Stonewall are also committed to do something similar with Quest. And lastly, Quest’s hope of holding a workshop on Conscience is also very much on the cards as is Terry Weldon’s Next Steps Ministry workshop.

So this is just some of what Quest has been doing over the past year. The above initiatives that I have mentioned are exciting but do make huge demands of the Committee members’ limited time and resources. At Conference there will be an update from the Strategy weekend held at the end of June.

Ruby Almeida 6th July 2016