Report to the Quest National Committee by our chair, Ruby Almeida, at the committee meeting held May 14th 2016:
The much anticipated Apostolic Exhortation from Pope Francis, Amoris Laetitia (Joy of Love),
created a flurry of responses from numerous Catholic and secular organisations. Many were negative about the lack of reference to LGBT issues, whilst others were more cautiously optimistic, and Quest thanks to Terry, also responded to the Exhortation by pointing out that we, as an organisation, have been working on the pastoral care for LGBTs for over four decades and now we 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, to offer to advise and support 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 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 aregular 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 the Role Models to the next phase by going and talking to parish councils. This has greatly excited Stonewall and a meeting is being set up to explore this initiative. Stonewall, as I said earlier are very impressed with Quest, and also want to work with us so that we can deliver training for trainers for the Schools Role Models scheme. This is good as it does lead us to pastures new for growth and wider recognition.
Pastoral Care Services
At the meeting with Bishop Peter Doyle of Northampton in February he said that he would mention Quest to his colleagues. I believe that 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 Fr. Kieran, much was discussed about how to identify and provide for the needs of LGBTs in their parishes. Our suggestion that we first meet with and do a talk with their parish council was received with great enthusiasm. This could process could easily be replicated other parishes. There was also talk of doing a training day for clergy as well as our desire to do a workshop on Conscience and to do Terry’s Next Steps Ministry workshop. So again many possibilities here for Quest.
Quest was also been approached by the Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service, through a referral from the Hallam Diocese, to attend their meeting in Market Harborough which takes place on 16th and 17th June. They have 6 safeguarding officers as well as a representative from the Jesuits and one from the Sisters of Mercy. They would like Quest to meet their safeguarding coordinators for an hour on the 16th to talk about our work and to raise awareness with them on any matters that may be pertinent to their safeguarding Strategy.
The above initiatives that I have mentioned are exciting but do make huge demands of our limited time and resources. Our Planning Strategy weekend at the end of June will need to address howwe go forward and engage with these opportunities.