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A new opportunity to use the gift of listening

The diocese is launching a new lay ministry to provide listening and prayer for those who are troubled. Dr Bonnie Lander Johnson from the Marriage and Family Life Commission explains the project.

Do you feel that you would like to be a more active part of the loving face of the Church? Are you a good listener and do you have compassion for others in their need?

The Diocese of East Anglia is initiating a Catholic Listening and Prayer Ministry to provide confidential support to those wishing to share their concerns and problems with a trustworthy helper who understands and shares their faith, listens to them in Christian love and offers sensitive prayer.

This ministry is being established as a means by which the Church can bear Christ to others, supporting and strengthening them in times of emotional and spiritual need. It will be offered by trained lay people and will be available to parishioners and clergy, both in parish centres and online.

Members of prayer groups, counsellors and trainees, those interested in counselling or who use similar skills in their work (paid or voluntary) would be well suited to this ministry although it is definitely not limited to these people. If you feel this ministry might be something you could provide and you are willing to commit to the training and can provide ongoing availability within the diocese, please do get in touch.

By listening lovingly this ministry aims to assist fellow parishioners to more clearly identify and prioritise their current difficulties so that they can more readily decide what steps, if any, they wish to take next. The support will be given within the context of the Catholic faith community; prayer ministry and basic spiritual guidance will be offered as an integral part of the process.

Rose Stokes will be training those in East Anglia who will offer this service. She has a background in counselling and teaching and for many years has prepared couples for Catholic marriage and offered marriage and family enrichment counselling.

She developed this program herself when her Bishop asked if she could design a service that would combine listening and prayer for parishioners who needed to speak through their current challenges, no matter how small or large, and wanted to do so within the parish setting. Rose developed the full training program and ran a successful pilot scheme in the Northampton diocese. She will be working closely with the East Anglia diocese over the next two years to train and supervise those in our own scheme. We are very fortunate and grateful that she has agreed to work with us.

Full training and supervision will be given to those who wish to be part of this new ministry once they have gone through a simple interview process. If you feel you may have the necessary empathy, basic skills and agreement with Church teaching, please apply for full details by emailing:

We hope to hold interviews online in early December 2020 and the training schedule (mainly online) is due to begin early January 2021. Ongoing supervision will be provided. This role requires a DBS Disclosure which will be processed by the diocese for successful applicants.

Pictured above is Rose Stokes