Diocese appoints Dean and Assistant Dean of Women's Ministry


The Diocese in Europe has appointed a new Dean and Assistant Dean of Women’s Ministry. The Revd Canon Debbie Flach and The Revd Dr Catriona Laing (pictured) will promote the ordained ministry of women in the diocese. 


The Revd Canon Debbie Flach            The Revd Dr Catriona Laing
As the newly appointed Dean and Assistant Dean respectively, Debbie and Catriona will support women in ordained ministry at every level. The Dean of Women’s Ministry will join the Diocesan Bishop’s Senior Staff Meeting.  
Debbie said: 
“I am delighted and honoured to have been appointed to this newly created senior post of Dean of Women’s Ministry in the Diocese in Europe. It is a tribute to both Bishop Robert and Bishop David, and their strong commitment to the full and equal ordained ministry of women, that they recognised the need for a Dean of Women’s Ministry.”  
Debbie has outlined three initial areas she will be highlighting across women’s stipendiary ministry, encouraging women clergy to apply for posts, and pastoral care. 
Debbie comments:  “Over the years, the number of women holding stipendiary parish posts has been increasing in most dioceses. However, there are still only eight dioceses with more than a third of stipendiary posts held by women, and our diocese are currently at the bottom of this data with less than 14% (data from 2020). It’s time to change.” 
She adds:  "I want to encourage and grow the number of women clergy in senior roles in our diocese by actively encouraging women clergy to apply for posts at all levels. “After all, who could resist the appeal of working in one of the 42 countries in the largest Diocese in the Church of England?” 
“Last but indeed not the least of my work will be concerned with the pastoral care of all women clergy and ordinands.” 

As newly appointed Assistant Dean, Catriona said: 
"With Debbie, I look forward to meeting as many of the women clergy as possible in the near future. Much of our work will involve drawing on the rich experience and wisdom of many of the women clergy in our diocese to explore how we can best serve you. Then, together, let us work to make our diocese one to which women apply because they know their gifts and skills for ministry will be appreciated, respected and developed while they are here.” 
Meet Debbie and Catriona ...
Debbie has served all her ordained ministry in the Diocese in Europe. She was ordained deacon in 1994 at St Peter’s Chantilly and was priested in 1997 at Holy Trinity, Maisons-Laffitte. She has Chaplain at Christ Church, Lille since 2007 and appointed as a Canon of Holy Trinity Pro-Cathedral in Brussels in 2007.  
Debbie has served in many representative roles including all levels of Synod since her ordination in 1994. She was involved in the Strategic Review led by Bishop David. Debbie's appointment as Dean of Women’s Ministry is the latest among several ‘firsts’ for women in her clergy career.  Debbie has been Area Director of Ordinands for France and Monaco as well as Reader Selector, a member of the French Anglican Roman Catholic Commission, Chair of the House of Clergy, and is an Area Dean in France. Debbie has also served on Bishop’s Council. 
Catriona’s call to the priesthood was influenced by her desire to join those building the Kingdom of God with the poor and marginalized. She was ordained in the Diocese of Southwark, where she was involved in the Church of England’s work in inter-faith relations at diocesan and national levels.  Her academic interests are in the area of Muslim Christian relations, specifically the role of prayer in deepening inter-faith relations. Before moving to Belgium in 2019, Catriona worked in parishes in London and Washington D.C.  
In addition to serving St Martha & St Mary’s Leuven, Catriona is Associate Chaplain at Holy Trinity Pro-Cathedral, Brussels with a particular remit to encourage the chaplaincy’s social justice ministry. 
Bishop Robert said: 
“I hope that news of these appointments will further strengthen confidence in our diocese’s intention to promote the ordained ministry of women amongst us.”