DAVID MORGAN on the appointment as Bishop of Croydon of a woman already very familiar with the borough’s many social challenges, and a professed loyal reader of Inside Croydon…
A neighbour passed me as I went in my front gate yesterday.
“Been anywhere good?”
“As a matter of fact, I have,” I replied. “I’ve just been to the press conference at Southwark Cathedral to announce the new Bishop of Croydon.”
“Well, I don’t suppose that’ll do anything to bring down the cost of living,” he grumbled.
“It won’t,” I agreed.
“But I think the new Bishop will do so much for our community.”
He didn’t want to chat further and trundled off down the road, not really wanting to hear the merits of the Bishop Designate the Venerable Dr Rosemarie Mallett.
He hadn’t had the benefit that I had had, of listening to Dr Mallett speak in the library of Southwark Cathedral.
With a dignity and a passion, she spoke eloquently about how she saw her role: championing community cohesion; shouting from the rooftops about social justice; energising groups to support the vulnerable and needy in society. And all this done in a way that make’s god’s word and love be known to everyone.
It was refreshing to hear a leader speak powerfully, with real clarity and from the heart.
She said she was humbled to be appointed to become the first female Bishop of Croydon and the first black woman bishop in London.
Already known to the Croydon community where she has served for the past two years as an archdeacon, Dr Mallett celebrated Croydon’s diversity and the joy of collaborative and partnership working.
By the end of this week, Croydon will not only have a new Bishop, it will also have its first elected Mayor. Referring to the local elections , Dr Mallett made it clear that whoever won in Croydon, she expected to see a future where honesty, integrity and transparency were evident. She also told me that she’s a loyal reader of Inside Croydon.
She said that as Bishop of Croydon, she would hold truth to power. I must remember to tell my neighbour that one.
Dr Mallett spoke about the need to continue to pull together the threads of local communities to make them more effective. Even yesterday, within minutes of the formal business of her appointment – by the Queen – being announced, Dr Mallett was travelling to her diocese to attend a charity community event organised by the Palace for Life Foundation, the charity based at Selhurst Park.
As archdeacon, Dr Mallett’s presence at the weekly Friday meetings of the BME Forum in Croydon has allowed her to plan, influence and bring about changes of attitudes, perceptions and practices of individuals, groups and families for the betterment of all.
Youth knife crime has been a regular subject of discussion at the forum, and doubtless it may come up again this week: on the day that Dr Mallett’s appointment was announced, there was another double stabbing in Croydon, this time in South Norwood.
Another thing I must remember to tell my neighbour is the sheer energy that Dr Mallett possesses. Yesterday, her itinerary included the press conference, the visit to Crystal Palace, and then down to St Matthew’s School in Redhill.
Championing the cause of young people and supporting their futures comes naturally to Dr Mallett who is currently the interim chair of the Southwark Diocese Board of Education and Chair of the Schools Committee. Crystal Palace and Redhill are the northernmost and the southernmost parts of her new diocese.
The Venerable Dr Rosemarie Mallett
Born Bridgetown, Barbados, January 1959
1982-1983 Researcher/Administrator, Eastern and Southern African Universities Research Project (ESAURP), University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
1983-1985 Research Administrator, Institute of Development Studies, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
1985-1986 Research Assistant, Institute of Development Studies, Sussex, Brighton
1986-1987 Research and Development Project, Commonwealth Secretariat, HQ, London
1987-1988 Project Administrator (Research) Co-operative Advisory Group, London
1988-1989 Consultant, Swedish Development Agency
1989-1990 Research Fellow, Institute of Social & Economic Research, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados
1991-2002 Research Sociologist (Senior), Medical Research Council, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London
1995-1997 Honorary Lecturer, Department of Legal, Political and Social Sciences, South Bank University, London
2002-2004 Chief Executive Officer, Brent Black Mental Health Consortium
2004 – 2007 Curacy at Christ Church, Brixton
2007-2020 Priest-in-Charge from December 2007, then Vicar from March 2013, St John the Evangelist, Angell Town
2015-2020 Public Policy Adviser then Director of Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation, Diocese of Southwark (part-time)
2020-2022 Archdeacon of Croydon
From the school she planned to visit St Matthew’s Church and see for herself the work that goes on there with the foodbank supporting the struggling families and individuals living even in this apparently affluent part of the Surrey stockbroker belt.
With time to fit in a meeting with the chief exec of the Welcare association and a visit to Nutfield Parish Church, Dr Mallett planned to finish her day with a service of Choral Evensong at Croydon Minster.
Bringing this energy to her role as an area bishop in the Southwark archdiocese, Dr Mallett will work alongside the Bishops of Kingston and Woolwich to support the Bishop of Southwark.
In her work, Dr Mallett will also have the help of a new archdeacon, announced yesterday as her replacement: Rev Greg Prior, who has been the vicar of a two-church parish in Wandsworth, All Saints with Holy Trinity, since 2004.
The next time I see my neighbour, there is a lot I need to update him about.
“She gets Croydon,” I have to tell him.
“Not how it was, but what it is like now and how she will work to improve things.”
I might have to do it over a pint.
Dr Mallett will be officially installed into her new role in a service at Southwark Cathedral on June 24.
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