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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Thrower

Dartford and Gravesend commission two Anna Chaplains

Maureen Franke and Sylvia Munns are commissioned as Anna Chaplains in Rochester Diocese

On Tuesday 15 February at a service at St Mary’s Church in Stone (near Dartford in Kent) two new Anna Chaplains were commissioned to work in Rochester Diocese by the bishop of Tonbridge, Simon Burton-Jones.

Sylvia Munns was commissioned Anna Chaplain for St Aidan’s Gravesend, having previously served as Anna Chaplain at All Saints Perry Street. Maureen Franke was commissioned Anna Chaplain for St Mary’s Stone. She follows in the footsteps of John Tootell who was the first Anna Chaplain at St Mary’s before moving to Cornwall and being commissioned Anna Chaplain for the St Cleer Tribute Cluster of Churches in Truro Diocese in 2021.

Oscar takes centre stage at our 2019 Gathering at High Leigh with Julia and Sylvia at the microphone

Sylvia has a nursing background and her ministry in the past has included being chaplain to several Gravesend care homes. She offered spiritual care to those even in the more advanced stages of dementia with complex needs, often with the help of her puppet Oscar who accompanied her to the commissioning service! Network members were introduced to Oscar at the last face-to-face annual Gathering held in Hertfordshire in 2019.

Sylvia has also been involved in the development of the Safe Harbour dementia centre in Gravesend and volunteers with the chaplaincy team at the Ellenor Hospice in supporting people with dementia.

Sylvia said of her commissioning as St Aidan’s Anna Chaplain this week:

I am looking forward to making connections locally and providing support in the lives and faith journeys of the older people I will meet; Anna Chaplaincy is special because it recognises everyone’s gifts and dignity.

Michael Payne, Sylvia’s vicar, reflected:

I am delighted that Sylvia has been commissioned Anna Chaplain to St Aidan's. Her wide range of gifts in reaching people living through later life - often with dementia - are used with sensitivity, openness and humour. Sylvia will have much opportunity to use those gifts here as she moves forward in her ministry.

Maureen Franke

Maureen cared for her mum through her dementia and uses the insights gained to support others in her church and local community going through this experience.

She is also looking to establish inter-generational connections through her links with St Mary’s Primary School in the parish. She is an established member of the team at St Alban’s community cafe in a neighbouring parish. As a Franciscan, patterns of daily worship and service are central to her Christian faith. Maureen’s service at St Mary’s includes cleaning the church regularly, bellringing and a multitude of other varied tasks and responsibilities.

Maureen said:

I feel blessed to serve the older people of the Parish of Stone. To support them faithfully, to listen and to share their life stories with them. Also to be able to offer them inter-generational connection with the children at Stone St Mary's Church of England school with singing etc. Also sharing Messy Vintage with the residents will stimulate their mind, sharing craft activities and giving them connection with prayer, scripture and singing. The ministry of Anna Chaplaincy has born a new life for me in the church and the community. All that I am, I offer to thee, to serve as our Father has called me.

Maureen’s rector Kenneth Clark said:

Maureen’s humble willingness to answer God’s call to be an Anna Chaplain opens up possibilities for the Church to be seen to be taking seriously a ministry to elderly people in the parish. She will do God’s work with much sensitivity, intuition and compassion. It’s wonderful to think that older people have possibilities too.

During the service Bishop Simon anointed Maureen and Sylvia with the oil of chrism and prayed for them in their ministry. Anna Chaplaincy lead for Rochester Diocese, Julia Burton-Jones, spoke about Anna Chaplaincy; colleagues from the local Anna Chaplaincy hub which spans the deaneries of Dartford, Gravesend and Cobham, also came to the service to support Maureen and Sylvia.

Both chaplains were supported by many friends, family members and representatives from both churches. The Mayor of Dartford, Rosanna Currans, was in attendance to show her support for Anna Chaplaincy. St Mary’s was recently awarded a bronze eco award by A Rocha UK and associate rector Anthea Harris-Faulkner gave a summary of St Mary’s work on environmental issues and showed the plaque St Mary’s had been given by A Rocha.

A buffet was served afterwards and included a special iced cake made by a friend to celebrate the occasion; it was decorated with Maureen and Sylvia’s names, the Anna Chaplaincy logo and the words, ‘Thou art the journey, and the journey’s end’ from a prayer by sixth-century philosopher Boethius.




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