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New role for spiritual director Margaret Mary

Spiritual director and school teacher Dr Margaret Mary McFadyen has been appointed as the diocesan representative to the Bishops Conference Spirituality Committee. Here she talks of her own spiritual journey.

I am what is normally referred to as a “cradle Catholic” from the west of Scotland. I moved to Norwich to study at UEA for a PhD in Atmospheric Chemistry.

I was involved with the chaplaincy there and was Liturgy Secretary on the Catholic Committee for three years. I was also involved with the Catholic Student Council and was elected Secretary when I attended their Easter conference on Education.

It was then that I had a “Damascus moment” and decided to train to be a teacher once I had finished my PhD. The chaplain at UEA helped me with funding so that I could complete the “Certificate of Religious Education” by a correspondence course with Strawberry Hill College, as it was then.

I began making annual individually guided retreats nearly 20 years ago, seeking the support of a spiritual director in everyday life after five years, and I recently trained as a spiritual director myself, in Ignatian spirituality in particular, which includes accompaniment in The Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius.

This is the background which brought me to the point of talking to Bishop Alan, telling him of my story and my ideas. I feel inspired to share what I have learned about prayer and how to find God in all aspects of daily life through my experiences and training. I am leading workshops on Exploring Personal Prayer in parishes in the diocese, with his support, and with the support of the parish priests.

Bishop Alan subsequently invited me to represent the Diocese of East Anglia at the annual meetings of The Bishops Conference Spirituality Committee, the first of which I attended in March.

It is a role which has room for development, and I have been contemplating and discerning how I am being called to move forward with it. I am very excited about the coming year of “The God Who Speaks”, about the groundswell of interest in deeper spirituality and prayer, in which I sense a countermovement to the times in which we live.

I feel both privileged and grateful to be appointed to this role within the diocese, and I take the responsibility of it seriously. I look forward to working with parishes within the diocese to promote an active, deeper engagement with spirituality in the plethora of traditions across the Church, all to the praise, reverence and service of God.

You can contact Margaret Mary at: