Over forty people are in place to serve the possible increase in the number of people enquiring about the Catholic Faith as a result of the Pope’s Visit to the UK.
The Catholic Enquiry Office (CEO) has been in operation for over 50 years, and exists to stimulate interest in Catholic life and beliefs; to promote a better understanding of the Catholic Church; to respond to enquirers. It receives an average of 1000 faith enquiries a year by phone, letter and email.
Bishop Edwin Regan (Diocese of Wrexham) has worked closely with the Catholic Enquiry Office on a number of initiatives in service of faith enquirers. He said: ‘In my experience there is no shortage of interest in things spiritual and in the Catholic Faith. Many people are searching but don’t know where to go for guidance and support on their journey of faith. The Enquiry Team exists to serve people who want to pose a specific faith question. It also offers a point of contact for those who are already baptised but haven’t had contact with the Church for some time. Wherever you are at on your journey of faith, feel free to get in contact. The door is open and the team would only be too happy to welcome and serve you.’
The volunteer team covers every diocese in England and Wales and is made up of priests, deacons, a religious sister and lay people to reflect the diversity of the Catholic Community. Nearly all the team members are based in their home dioceses (geographical areas) and their contact details are published on the Papal Visit website in the ‘Catholic Faith’ section: CEO. Eight of the volunteers will, on a rota basis, work from the London Office centre.
Nanette Brown is from Grimsby in North East Lincolnshire, became a Catholic shortly after Pope John Paul II’s visit to the UK and is one of the CEO diocesan team members. She reminisces of the 1982 visit: ‘Travelling to Wembley Stadium the crowds were tremendous but everyone was of the same mind and so happy. Never before have I been in such a long queue for the toilet, chatting with pilgrims who were asking which diocese I had come from and saying, “No I’m not a Catholic” and someone saying, “Well you have more of a reason to be here than us!” I felt very humbled. I will never forget the wonderful Wembley Mass with the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, and the thought that here on this day we were witnessing in our land a Mass celebrated by the successor of St. Peter himself. This was most certainly the icing on the cake for me and to be seated very close to the choristers was such a thrill. I could no longer turn my back on the faith which I had now come to realise I could no longer ignore…. it was a bit of heaven on earth that day.’
The CEO offers a bespoke website about Catholicism which assumes no prior knowledge of the Faith: www.life4seekers.co.uk
Nanette added: ‘Having been an enquirer myself at the visit of the Holy Father in 1982, I am so happy and feel very privileged to be part of the National Catholic Enquiry Team for the visit of our current Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, and will most certainly do my best to share my faith in whatever way I can in helping others.’
The expanded CEO service will initially run until 26th September to cover just before, during and after the Papal Visit. Read more of Nanette’s story.
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