Rosemary Feuell (aka Rosey) was finally commissioned as an Anna Chaplain on Sunday, September 24, at the parish church of St Mary the Virgin, Great Shelford, near Cambridge.
Rosey described how the ceremony was part of Parish Communion as it was considered better to celebrate Anna Chaplaincy within the congregation and local contexts, rather than as an “added extra”.
Locals from adjoining parishes in Sawston, Stapleford and South Cambridge attended, along with Parish Councillor Malcolm Watson, and people involved with local care homes, and the recently commissioned Anna Chaplain from St Mary’s, Ely, Beth Georgiou, who took photographs.
The service was conducted by the Vicar, the Revd Dr Julie Norris, who is also Diocesan Director of Lay Ministry. Rosey herself preached, having been licensed to this parish as an LLM (Reader) in 2022 after completing training during lockdown, and gaining the Certificate in Ministry to Older People from Cliff College, in the early spring of 2020 just as life contracted.
Rosey explained that she had started exploring Anna Chaplaincy after meeting Debbie Thrower at Cuddesdon’s Festival of Prayer, long before opportunities made it a reality: "possibly a Guinness-Book-of-Records initiation period for the role!"
Cambridge is full of transient, youthful congregations, she said, often leaving older folk feeling abandoned once access and parking become tricky. Hence it took time to identify settled gatherings of older people and opportunities to serve this age-group in spiritual and related activities. However, in 2017 Rosey began to lead a community group for older people nearer home, on their chairwoman’s death, and sought other possibilities for developing this ministry –"a task we can all align ourselves with as we give thanks for the gifts and years God has given us".
Rosey noted that the Bible commends older people’s wisdom and seniority: "let them speak .. and do not interrupt the music", alongside younger ones – urging us to honour older people and their contribution. Also key, was the perception that State, society, and families cannot possibly care totally for our increasingly ageing population.
"Society needs to squirrel away myriad nuggets of care, companionship and spiritual help for those whose needs grow with the years, even while their insights become increasingly valuable."
"At last it is heartening to trace the ways that God has led me through brambles to good pasture where there is scope for fruitful work in a church whose oversight understands and values this ministry. We have already opened a Friendship Group for older people from a wider field and started building bridges with different contexts, within and outside the parish, where this ministry may be welcome.
Rosey added: "I’d like to thank all those who have encouraged me forward, including Debbie Thrower, and Alex Burn (BRF Ministries' Anna Chaplaincy), my vicar Julie and my colleagues in parish and network."