Paul Northam head cropMy name is Paul Northam and I have the privilege of working as the Fieldworker for our Archdiocese. I am from the Birmingham area – having grown up in Bearwood – worshiping at Our Lady of Good Counsel and St Gregory the Great parish and attending the church school.

Like the Three Shires Oak that once stood near our church (which was reputed to have its roots in three counties), my Christian faith also has broad roots. As a young person my family introduced me to Christ and encouraged me to follow Him. In my teens, my brother, my cousin and I found ourselves in an ecumenical youth group which met in a nearby Anglican church. There I discovered other young people with a similar desire to know Christ, and Christians who wanted to invest in us. A renewal of my faith led me to consider youth ministry, and I joined a community for the New Evangelisation in the Nottingham Diocese. More recently I was trained, and spent 11 years, as a youth worker in the Anglican Church – the last 8 at St Francis of Assisi, Bournville – where I served the church, school and community there.

What drew me to my new role in evangelisation was a desire to support others in growing as disciples in a culture that is ambivalent, and sometimes antithetical, to the Catholic faith. In youth ministry I learned that young people need to have role models in faith, but this is true for all of us, especially for those who turn away from Christ because of how we sometimes represent Him. It was this revelation that led me to become a Benedictine oblate at St Mary’s Abbey, Colwich as I wanted to witness to Christ not just with my words, but also through my way of life.

This role has as its focus outreach to those ‘on the fringes’ of faith. There are two parts to this work – firstly, I will be meeting with specific parishes across our Archdiocese in order to help them think strategically and creatively about how they engage the lapsed. This may involve beginning new initiatives, but also finding opportunities to make the sacramental life of the parish more intentionally mission focussed. Secondly, I will aim to make available the good-practice of those parishes to others in the diocese in various ways.

I am sure that I will be learning a huge amount in this role and I’m hoping that through the pages of this blog you will be able to keep in touch with how our work is developing. If you have any questions or are interested in finding out more, I can be contacted at fieldevang@maryvale.ac.uk or on 0121 360 8118 (ex 166). Please keep us in your prayers as we begin our work. Paul.

Natalie Orefice cropI have recently started working at The Maryvale Institute.  My title is, Advisor for Parish Evangelisation for the Diocese.  I have come to the Diocese after working for over fourteen years as a Detention Officer for West Midlands Police.  It does appear to be quite a transformative career move however I have been actively involved in the Catholic Church for a number of years.

What lead me to apply for a role in
evangelisation can probably be much more clearly explained in how I try to live my life as a wife, mother and an active member of the Catholic Church. I’m a National Speaker for Catholic Voices, which has given me excellent foundations and strategies to defend the faith which is central to all that I do in life.

I’m originally from Liverpool and came to the Midlands after studying psychology and graduating from university. In my family home growing up, my Mother in particular taught me that my relationship with Jesus is an essential part of my existence. Essentially by being evangelised by my own family as a child, to know and love Jesus and his Church, has left me as an adult feeling both humbled and honoured for the wonderful gift of faith given to me, which I feel called to share with others.

St Chad and All Saints Church, Sedgley has become my Parish home over the last twelve years. Through many of the initiatives I have been part of and also been a part of within our Parish I have also developed in my appreciation the importance of how we reach out to the those within our Parish community and beyond.

It is my mission to produce a lasting legacy for evangelisation in our Diocese, to see that the vision and challenge set before us in the initiative of Proclaim 15 really will have huge impact in parishes.  There are many people doing wonderful work in parishes throughout our Diocese; I will produce a network so they can both share good practice and support with one another along this journey. Furthermore, I will be available to guide, support and encourage parishes to start then embed their own evangelisation teams.

There are many resources available to guide us, however the place where we must begin, should be in prayer. It is through prayer and our relationships with Jesus that we are given the skills we need to share our faith.

Finally, it is a really exciting time to be part of the Catholic Church; especially as we are endeavouring to find new ways in which to share the joy of the Gospel and to witness to our faith. I wish to support anyone across the Diocese who has a desire to evangelise so that we together can respond to Pope Francis’ call to build missionary parishes and form missionary disciples.

Natalie Orefice can be contacted on 0121 03608118 ext 166 or praishevang@maryvale.ac.uk