Director of Caritas Diocese of Brentwood

My name is Siân Thomas-Cullinan and was initially appointed as Development Coordinator in April 2021 and then as Director in January 2023. This crucial role is to help Caritas Diocese of Brentwood to support those working on charitable projects throughout the Diocese who are reaching the margins. This full-time staff role for Caritas Diocese of Brentwood marks an important step in the development of Caritas within the Diocese.

This role was intended to be working from home, intentionally designed for me to be able to travel around the Diocese and meet those involved in charitable projects within parishes and schools. I will be seeking opportunities to help others working locally to network in similar projects, supporting those seeking to volunteer, helping with training and grant applications, and inspiring those who want to begin projects but are not sure where to start, all funded by legacy money given specifically for this purpose within the Diocese.

How Caritas Diocese of Brentwood began

Caritas Diocese of Brentwood was launched on the Second World Day of the Poor, 18th November 2018, after a year of consultation and dialogue with groups from across the Diocese that began on the Feast of St John Bosco, 31st January 2018, with Mass and a conversation at Walsingham House at Abbotswick.

Inspired by the Catholic faith, Caritas is the helping hand of the Church: reaching out to the poor, vulnerable and excluded, regardless of race or religion, to build a world based on justice and fraternal love.

We exist to support and encourage the living out of Catholic Social Teaching within the Diocese. Volunteers give thousands of hours to support those who are ill, poor and marginalised throughout Essex and East London, working with those of all faith and none. Caritas Diocese of Brentwood celebrates that work, which is often both hidden and heroic. Every year we intend to bring together those who are working in parishes, schools and groups across the Diocese for a day of networking, sharing good practices, and training. During the year we hope to match those seeking volunteering opportunities with local groups who are desperate for volunteers to help them continue and develop their work; this website is the keyway in which we do that. Through our social media we also share news of charitable initiatives, and celebrate moments of particular significance that otherwise may only be known in a particular parish or locality. Caritas Diocese of Brentwood is not another layer of “management” or “accountability” for any group – rather, we exist to help amplify all the good work that is already happening, giving it a wider reach and greater prominence.

The date for our first conversation was significant; St John Bosco is the Patron Saint of the young and Caritas Diocese of Brentwood works closely with the Brentwood Catholic Youth Service, helping young leaders to have a strong appreciation of Catholic Social Teaching, and highlighting opportunities for young people and young adults to volunteer, so as to put their faith into action in practical ways.

Guiding us is the Gospel imperative, “Whatever you did to the least of my sisters and brothers, you did to me.” Matthew 25:40.

We are also inspired by the rich history of Catholic Social Teaching that was nurtured within our Diocese by Cardinal Manning, more than 100 years ago, at the time of the East London dock strike. His interventions were very significant at the very time when Pope Leo XIII was composing Rerum Novarum, the Papal Encyclical that is the touchstone for all Catholic Social Teaching.

On 1st November 2018, the Diocese of Brentwood was delighted to be accredited by the Living Wage Foundation as a Living Wage Employer. Caritas Diocese of Brentwood continues to encourage all parishioners who are also employers to take this step with us; the Living Wage lifts people from poverty and makes a decisive difference in the life of many families.

Read the message from the launch day, including quotes from Pope Francis and Bishop Alan.

Fratelli Tutti: Fraternity & Social Friendship 3rd October 2020

Laudato Si’: Care for our Common Home 24th May 2015

Seventh World Day of the Poor, 19th November 2023

Sixth World Day of the Poor, 13th November 2022

Fifth World Day of the Poor, 14th November 2021

Fourth World Day of the Poor, 15th November 2020

Third World Day of the Poor, 17th November 2019

Second World Day of the Poor, 18th November 2018

First World Day of the Poor, 19th November 2017