The responsibility of our baptism: J&P Conference 2014

The Annual Justice and Peace Conference this July will bring together several persuasive Catholics to address the topic: Called to Life in All Its Fullness: accepting the responsibility of our baptism. The aim of the conference will be to empower lay people to accept the responsibility of baptism; to provide an opportunity to bring life experiences and relate them to their baptismal call; and to be a celebration of life and a renewal of vision. Speakers will include the Senior Lecturer in Pastoral and Social Studies and Theology at Heythrop College, Sr Gemma Simmonds CJ, and the award-winning BBC Natural History producer, Mary Colwell. The Head of CAFOD’S Latin America desk, Clare Dixon, and the Liberal Democrat MP, Sarah Teather, will also be speaking at the conference which will be chaired by Revd Ruth Lee.

The theme of the conference is inspired by what Pope Francis wrote in his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium: “There has been a growing awareness of the identity and mission of the laity in the Church...At the same time, a clear awareness of this responsibility of the laity, grounded in their baptism and confirmation, does not appear in the same way in all places...Even if many are now involved in the lay ministries, this involvement is not reflected in a greater penetration of Christian values in the social, political and economic sectors. It often remains tied to tasks within the Church, without a real commitment to applying the Gospel to the transformation of society.”

As head of CAFOD’s Latin America desk, Clare Dixon has many years of experience of working with people in Latin America, while Sarah Teather MP, who announced her intention to stand down at the next General Election, has voiced opposition to the Welfare Reform Bill and spoken out against negative attitudes to refugees. Issue 86 of Jesuits and Friends included an interview with her.

As well as teaching and giving spiritual direction, Sr Gemma Simmonds CJ of Heythrop College, University of London, has worked with women and street children in Brazil; she has also been a chaplain at Holloway Prison. The final speaker at the J&P Conference will be Mary Colwell, an award winning TV, radio and internet producer,  mainly of programmes about nature and the environment. Mary is a feature writer for The Tablet, as well as a consultant on the relationship between religion and the natural world.

Called to Life in All Its Fullness - accepting the responsibility of our baptism – the 2014 Justice and Peace Conference – will take place at the Hayes Conference Centre Swanwick, Derbyshire, 18 - 20 July 2014. A booking form is available from NJPN, 39 Eccleston Square, London SW1V 1BX; 020 7901 4864 or download it from