The Icon of Emmaus: Chair’s Address to Conference delegates

Dear friends, I just wanted to explain the background and context to my meeting with Cardinal Vincent Nichols. Last year Quest celebrated its 40th year and there was a real sense of arrival, a sense of achievement at Conference. This was further accentuated by the letter of congratulations that we received from Bishop Kieran Conry, in whose diocese we held our Conference.

Michael Bennett and I felt it important to meet with Archbishop Vincent Nichols (as he then was) to present our credentials, with one specific purpose on our agenda, and that was for Quest to be acknowledged and given the due respect that we knew we deserved. I took the opportunity to tell the archbishop that Quest did the work that the Church just could not and did not do, which was to offer pastoral support to its LGBT Catholic faithful. It was a frustration that the old red herring about Quest having been taken out of the Westminster Directory was mentioned by him. Both Michael and I made it clear that that incident was a history that neither of us were party to and which meant nothing to us, and that it had no relevance to Quest today. We told the archbishop that as an organisation, in the past few years, we were moving on to pastures new to make Quest more valid and relevant for our membership.

The central part of our lives in today’s climate and culture is always with Christ. It was at this point that Archbishop Nichols suggested that if we wished, and if it helped, we could look at the Emmaus story as part of our process.

I need to stress that as much as it was merely a suggestion from him, upon looking closely at the story we felt that unpicking the story was a challenge, but we felt it would be good thing to explore. What we as membership do at this Emmaus workshop is purely for our benefit. As a bit of polite protocol I will let the archbishop know that we did use the story. There is no intention on our part to seek his approval or otherwise.

I hope that any worries or concerns you may have about Quest being ‘played’ by the hierarchy are put to one side. I look for your participation and views, and hope that we can get a clear understanding of what you wish  for Quest. I wholeheartedly encourage you to engage with this process as we continue to move forwards.

Thank you.

• Ruby Almeida

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