Meet our Pastoral Assistants
My time at St Matthew’s, aside from being immensely enjoyable, gave me the time, space and breadth of experience I needed as I journeyed forward in the discernment process to train for ordained ministry. From beautiful liturgy to generous hospitality, from the primary school to the care home, and from the Daily Office to Microsoft Office, St Matthew’s gives its PAs experiences, skills and memories that they will keep for the rest of their lives. All that in a year based in the very heart of London, with a great team and a loving congregation makes the Pastoral Assistant scheme a truly unique opportunity.
The Revd Sally Womersley
I arrived as only the second woman at St Matthew’s as Pastoral Assistant in 2005. For me, it was very much the right place to explore my vocation to ordination. I found the opportunity to get involved in the daily life of the parish; school, pastoral visiting as well as taking part in the liturgy on a regular basis was hugely beneficial. I found it both challenging (in a good way!) and fulfilling, and gave me valuable insight into parish life. Life at St Matthew’s played a large part in my formation as a priest, and I look back on my time here with fond memories of hospitality shared, the fun we had (always important!) and friends I made, some of whom I am still in regular contact.
If anyone would like to have a 'chat' with me, please feel free to contact me.
Pastoral Assistant, 2016 - 2017
I loved my time as a Pastoral Assistant at St Peter’s Eaton Square. The opportunity to serve God’s people in a busy church in central London was such a rewarding experience. As a pastoral assistant, I had the opportunity to explore my leaderships skills, helping with groups like the toddler group to lent and confirmation classes. I was encouraged to preach, at both the sung Eucharist and family services, giving me the chance to build in confidence and gain valuable preaching skills. Working as part of a team, I felt both challenged and supported to grow in faith and theology, whilst learning what is needed as part of the day to day running of a busy London parish. Being a pastoral assistant was a life changing and transformative gift in my life, helping me to discern my vocation for ministry within the Church of England, and giving me the opportunity to share and develop my pastoral skills with the whole body of the church and the local community. I made life long friends and by being a pastoral assistant at St Peter’s Eaton Square, I was enabled to be the person God has created me to be. It was also such a privilege to share prayers and worship with clients at the Passage homeless shelter in Westminster as part of my role as a pastoral assistant. Another key highlight was the opportunity to respond pastorally with “the welcome box scheme” - welcoming Refugees and asylum seekers to our great city.
Fr Andreas Wenzel
Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham
St Matthew’s Westminster will always have a special place in my heart because it was here that I was received into the Church of England and met my future wife. Born a German Lutheran, the generous ecumenical hospitality at St Matthew’s allowed me to explore the Catholic tradition within the Church of England freely. Sharing in the pastoral routines of the clergy and assisting with the excellent work of the parish’s Primary School helped me tremendously in the discernment of my vocation to the priesthood.
Pastoral Assistant, 2017 - 2019
The role of Pastoral Assistant at St. Peter’s Eaton Square has helped me to grow in faith and as a person, having been given the opportunity to get involved in so many aspects of its ministry: from the outreach of the Welcome Boxes to the Poppets toddler group every Monday and Friday. Poppets has a team of dedicated volunteers, and I enjoyed providing craft activities for the young children who attend. Many of the toddlers and their parents also attend weekly services, and I am especially glad to have had the chance to give interactive talks at the Family Eucharist. Giving interactive talks, aimed at both children and adults, helped me to improve on my speaking skills. Organising the Youth Group gave me more experience of working with youth/young people. Revd Julie, Sammy and I took the group on several fun Sunday evenings out, including to an escape room called ClueQuest.
The chance to read theology and put together written sermons for the Sung Eucharist has helped me learn more about my Christian faith. A highlight from my final year was the Hyde Park walk in aid of Redthread and the picnic for the Patronal Festival. The scene in Eaton Square Gardens on the day is something I will never forget: there was food from many different cultures, kindly provided by those attending. The Welcome Boxes programme at St Peter’s gave me the chance to get to know and befriend refugees and asylum seekers living in London. I went for coffee regularly with two refugees, both of whom now have their leave to remain in the UK and it was a privilege to celebrate this with them. The special St. Peter’s Eaton Square prayer says, “may it be for all a place of welcome”; I definitely felt incredibly welcome at this special church and I look forward to visiting again on future occasions.
Pastoral Assistant 2016-2017
College of the Resurrection, Mirfield
Living as a Pastoral Assistant is an opportunity to live into a vocation. St Dunstan's exposed me to Christian ministry in the East End of London and enabled an exploration of ministry in a different context to that of the parishes in rural Sussex from where I had come. I was able to enter into a rhythm of public and private prayer that sustained me during the vocation process. Importantly, the experience of being alongside a wonderfully supportive priest and people enlarged my grammar of faith and vocation, allowing me to enjoy the Bishop's Advisory Panel with a quiet confidence. I shall forever be grateful for my time there, the friends made and the prayers that follow me.