Reflections on ecumenism from Norfolk

Laurette Burton, the Catholic Denominational Ecumenical Officer for Norfolk and Waveney, reflects on eight years in the role as she steps down.

After more than eight years of service, Laurette Burton has stepped down from her role as the Catholic Denominational Ecumenical Officer (DEO) for Norfolk and Waveney. Reflecting on her time in this role, Laurette shared her experiences and the motivations behind her ecumenical journey.

Describing her background, Laurette said, “I am a ‘cradle Catholic’, brought up in Ealing, London. For most of my married life I moved often in the British Isles and Germany with my soldier husband Cedric.” Laurette has lived in East Anglia since 2004.

When asked about her initial attraction to ecumenism, Laurette explained, “I had no particular interest in ecumenism but in 2014 became a member of the East Anglia Diocesan Commission for Dialogue & Unity. This role provided the initial catalyst for my interest in exploring the beliefs and practices of other Christian denominations.”

Laurette highlighted the influence of key figures in her ecumenical work, these included “Msgr John O’Toole, the former Catholic NEO and the late Deacon Clive Brooks, Catholic DEO for Suffolk.  Both provided help and great encouragement as did Catherine Howe too, the former CEO for Norfolk and Waveney and member of the Association of Interchurch Families, who was described as an inspiration with her “infectious commitment to the task.”

Laurette noted that, “Ecumenism in Norfolk has waxed and waned over the last 8 years, but local and wider ecumenical initiatives flourish.” She emphasised three initiatives, firstly the supportive events offered through the work of CTE.  Laurette said, “in addition to the annual Churches Together in England Conferences for all Ecumenical Officers, a CTE Forum is held every 3 years. The 2022 Forum met not long after the Russian invasion of Ukraine… It was a wonderful opportunity for Christians from many different denominations to be seen working together.”

She also mentioned a successful survey “undertaken by the East Anglia Diocesan Commission to gauge local ecumenical activity in our parishes elicited not only a good response but also useful information on the range of initiatives.” The Chain of Prayer was another highlight for Laurette who said, “The Chain of Prayer, the only ecumenical endeavour for which the Norfolk & Waveney DEOs are responsible, is I believe among notable achievements of the DEO committee during my tenure.”

Looking to the future, Laurette will continue to be busy in her own parish, stating “my parish responsibilities include catechesis, CAFOD representative, Secretary to the local Christians Together Group and Chair of our Parish Forum”.  Having now stepped down from the post of Catholic DEO for Norfolk & Waveney it is good to hear that Laurette will still be involved in local ecumenism.  Thank you Laurette for all you have given.

This article uses extracts from courtesy of Ian Watson

Pictured above is Laurette Burton standing far right, with a cohort of the Foundation of Faith in the New Evangelisation course back in 2019 on the last study day in Newmarket. The course is not associated with Norfolk and Waveney Churches Together.