Bishop John has appointed Mary Flitcroft as his new Adviser for Spirituality. Mary will take over from Sue Perry, who is stepping down from 1 August.
Mary originally trained as a primary school teacher, working for 25 years in Birmingham and the Black Country. She left teaching seven years ago and built on a degree in ceramics completed in in 1991 by becoming a ceramic artist, producing both abstract and traditional pottery pieces. Creating a set of Stations of the Cross was a key moment in her own journey of spirituality.
Mary said: “My work with ceramics is like a prayer or a form of deep meditation and that’s really important to me. Making the Stations of the Cross helped me to understand more deeply how art can serve contemplation and so it has been moving for me to see them used with liturgy in churches across Birmingham, in Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, and in Sarum College where I led Holy Week reflections based around them.”
Mary completed training to become a Spiritual Director in the Diocese of Birmingham and after moving to our diocese, where she worships at St Mary’s, Oldswinford, she met with Sue to apply to be on the register of Spiritual Directors here.
“When the pandemic struck, I spoke to Sue about helping the Spiritual Directors connect with each other. We set up a small group which meets regularly to share in prayerful reflection of the scriptures through Lectio Divina”.
“I feel honoured to have been asked to on take on the role of Bishop’s Adviser for Spirituality and I am really excited to take on the work, trusting in God for its flourishing. Being deeply rooted in prayer is at the heart of the role as is encouraging others to develop their relationship with God. It is a privilege to take over from Sue – the role has been in very safe hands over the last few years.”
Mary will be responsible for maintaining and developing the Diocesan Spiritual Director’s Register, and, through the Spirituality Network, hopes to connect all those with an interest in spirituality. She will continue to develop links with those who organise pilgrimages, retreats, quiet days and reflective prayer gatherings and with the religious houses and communities within the Diocese.
“Our Spiritual Directors are such an amazing resource and they are there for everyone and anyone. Over the past year or so, people have been through so much and Spiritual Directors can help people reflect on this as they are trained and skilled in compassionate listening. It is through prayer and contemplation that we allow the love of God to really grow and that’s when everything changes.’’