Catholic Voices announces new lead coordinator

A new lead coordinator has been appointed to manage Catholic Voices (CV) in the UK following a decision by its two founders to concentrate on bolstering the project internationally. 

As result of the shake-up in the church communications project Brenden Thompson, its public speaker’s program coordinator for the past two years, will take over from 1 January from Jack Valero as lead coordinator of CV. Both Valero and co-founder Austen Ivereigh will stand down as trustees. The third founder-coordinator, Kathleen Griffin, sadly died in September after a long illness.

The project began in 2010 in the UK to train speakers for media interviews, initially focussed on the papal visit that year. Since 2011 it has organized workshops in cities across the UK, training more than 150 people who have done more than 1,100 media interviews. 

CV runs regular Academies on topics relevant to the Church and society and publishes articles on current issues on CV Comment. In the past two years the project has expanded into the training of speakers to give more than 70 talks in around 15 parishes so far.  

Thompson, 28, studied theology at St Mary’s, Twickenham and Oxford University and qualified recently in leadership & management at Leadership College London. He works part time for the Diocese of Brentwood as a Training & Resources Coordinator for a thriving youth service as well as running an apostolate he recently founded called ‘Signs of Life’. 

Thompson said: “Since doing the training and running the public speakers’ programme I have become more convinced than ever that the CV method is a great gift to the Church, helping people to articulate their faith and build bridges in the workplace and day-to-day life. It is a great privilege to take Jack and Austen’s work forward into the project’s next stage.” 

Since 2011, the project has also expanded across the world, with Valero and Ivereigh giving trainings in 24 countries, a number of which also now have active CV groups. 

Valero is leaving to focus his time and energies on growing both existing and fledgling CV groups across the world through a new organization that will be independent of the national projects in order to assist them equally. 

The idea for the new organization came out of a “CV Global” meeting of 15 of the international groups in Rome in May this year.

Valero said: “It was clear that the project now needs some kind of international coordination in order to move us to the next level, and that this couldn’t be done from within CV UK. We need to take the experiences from existing countries and make them available to others. I am excited about this new phase for our mission.”

Ivereigh, the former lead coordinator, who has stood back from the project over the past year while writing a new book on Pope Francis out next year, will also resign as trustee and give support to the new international organization. 

Ivereigh said: “As a trustee, I’ve been involved in the months of discussion and discernment about the next phase for the project, and Kathleen’s sad passing seemed to be a waymark for change. This is the right way forward. Brenden is a superb leader with a real feel for the project.” 

Christopher Morgan, chairman of the Board of CV, said: “We are very grateful to Jack and Austen for the tremendous work they have done, both as trustees and as coordinators, in building CV and of course we look forward to continue to working with them.

“After plenty of careful discussion, the trustees are convinced that Brenden has the passion, skills and, above all, the heart for CV that a coordinator needs, and we have every confidence in him. He has a large task but we know he will do a fine job leading our mission into its next phase.”

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