New Catholic Voices Complete Training

The Catholic Voices 2014 National Speakers’ Training programme ended shortly before Christmas with the final retreat at Park Place Centre, in the Hampshire countryside.

This year’s trainees began their formation in mid-September at St Patrick’s Church, Soho Square, London, with a presentation on the ethos of Catholic Voices by Austen Ivereigh and an introduction to reframing by Jack Valero, followed by workshops on reframing techniques. Two further evening workshops on reframing followed in September. The first examined the issue of state-funded Catholic education, while the second focused on the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, which at that time was just about to get underway. Catholic Voices’s chaplain, Fr. Stephen Wang, celebrated Mass and provided spiritual reflections for the speakers.

The trainees were then put through their paces in radio and television studios during two practice days at the Sound Company, a short walk away from Broadcasting House. Each speaker was grilled on the laicisation of the Polish former-Archbishop Josef Wesolowski during a four-minute radio interview, followed later in the day by TV interviews on the Synod on the Family, in which speakers were pitted against ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’ critics of the Synod process. Thorough evaluation sessions followed, with playback of the interviews and helpful feedback both from professional interviewers and presenters and from Catholic Voices’ coordinators Kathleen Griffin and Jack Valero. Those attending the studio practice days were kept well-fed by the efficient and generous service at a nearby pizzeria.

One full day and four evening workshops followed in London run by Daniel Hitchens, who leads Catholic Voices’s public speaking programme. These sessions aimed to help speakers develop the skills necessary not only to answer questions on radio and television, but to prepare and deliver talks and speeches in parishes, schools, university chaplaincies, and a variety of other venues.

The programme finished with the retreat at Park Place during which five panels were organised with speakers giving a range of presentations on various topics related to Catholic teaching on marriage and sexuality, life issues, reform in the Church, Catholic social teaching, interreligious dialogue, ecumenism and religious freedom. There were opportunities for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and Mass was celebrated by Fr. Stephen Wang.

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