Catholic circle lines up star speakers - from inspirational twins' mum to knight who helps run Pope's cricket team!

Charity leader

Phil Sparke - Credit: Submitted

The Torbay Circle of the Catenian Association are embarking on a new year with great optimism after a year of zoom meetings.

The international association comprises Catholic lay members who support the Catholic Church, young people and those in need. 

Notable virtual Bay speakers have included Father Robbie Low who spoke on 'The Future of Catenians'.

Visiting brother Anthony Phillips from Ealing Circle and his friend Mariusz Twomey revealed they had visited over 120 Circles via zoom in the past year and lining up interesting speakers was key.

Phil Spark, Chief Executive Officer of HCPT gave a talk, aptly on the Feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes - HCPT is a registered charity offering pilgrimage holidays to Lourdes for disabled and disadvantaged people.

Jenny Baker (daughter of the late Deacon Paul Strickland of Torbay Circle) is a wife and a mum to twin daughters.

She is the National Celebrate leader and coordinates the Celebrate conferences. She gave an inspirational explanation of 'What is Catholic Charismatic Renewal and how it affects the Church today'.

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At the annual meeting Barney Bettesworth was installed as president.

The speaker was Sir Christian Sweeting. Born and brought up in Torquay,  he is a businessman with more than 30 years of commercial experience predominantly in property and corporate structuring.

He also undertakes several roles in charities and organisations, including a trustee of the Vatican City State’s Museums and Property restoration body and was recruited by Cardinal Pell to the property board of the Vatican’s Secretariat of the Economy.

He is a committee member of St Peter’s Cricket Club (the Pope's cricket team) and chairs The Catholic Sacred Arts Trust.

In 2006 he was recognised by the President of Sri Lanka for humanitarian assistance following the 2004 Tsunami. In 2008 he was awarded a Papal Knighthood for pre-eminent service to charity and in 2015 was honoured with a knighthood.

Sir Christian gave an interesting talk of his global business adventures and of romance in the Vatican where he met Carolina. Now married, they have three young children and currently live between London and Torquay.

Future speakers include local architect, Richard Maddock, GB National President David Arundale and Catholic writer and broadcaster, Austen Ivereigh.

The circle meets on the second Thursday of each month. Further information - secretary Paul Shimell paul.shimell@hotmail.co.uk.