FiF Director Tom Middleton speaks to Fr Chris Brading about his new appointment
The Society has announced that the second half of its National Missioner role is to be undertaken by Fr Chris Brading SSC, who will work alongside the existing National Missioner, Fr David D’Silva. Fr Chris and Fr David will both be part-time Missioner and part-time parish priest.
Would you like to introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your background?
I was born and grew up in the Portsmouth area. I came to faith when I was 13, encouraged and taught by Fr Beau Brandie. I first felt called to the priesthood when I was around 18 but, when it came to it, I was too scared and so I went off to Art College for four years, specialising in photography. After college I went into corporate video production, which in those days was a new thing! I spent most of my career in the high-tech industry sector undertaking a variety of marketing and corporate communication roles.
During this time, I never lost my faith but was a pretty lousy disciple! I rarely went to church, and when I did it was invariably because something was going wrong in my life. In 2007 I started worshipping again and quite quickly the distinctive sense and feeling of God’s call came back. This time I felt I had to do something about it and in 2012 I wound up my consultancy business and, together with Carolyn my wife and Sam our son, moved to Oxford to train for the priesthood at St Stephen’s House.
When and where were you ordained, and where did you serve your title?
I was made deacon in Sheffield Cathedral on the feast of Ss Peter and Paul, 2014, and ordained priest in 2015 by Bishop Glyn in St Margaret’s Church, Swinton, where I served my title under the formidable Fr Christopher Barley – three great, and never to be forgotten, years!
In 2017 we moved back south when I was appointed vicar of St Richard’s, Haywards Heath. I have enjoyed the last five years immensely particularly overseeing the launch of several outreach projects, including fortnightly dementia cafés, a young carers club and most recently ‘Ric’s Bench’ – a safe space for people who are lonely or anxious to have a cuppa and chat – which runs three times a week. We shall be sad to leave St Richard’s and the community here.
St Margaret, Swinton, is that not Fr David‘s sending parish?
It is indeed! I met Fr David at St Stephen’s House around ten years ago, and we have been friends ever since, sharing a love for that Yorkshire parish. I am very much looking forward to working with Fr David; we have different skills and experience which I think will complement each other well.
Why do you feel called to the Missioner role?
To be honest, when I saw the role advertised a year ago, I didn’t give it a second thought and I certainly had no intention of applying for it! But then, just before Christmas, a bishop suggested that I should consider looking into it. I agreed to think and pray about it, which I did.
When I started my training for the priesthood, I naively assumed that would mark the end to my professional involvement in marketing and communications. I was aware that I had a number of transferable skills that were likely to be useful in ministry. What I was not really expecting is the extent to which I have been able to make use of my knowledge: from preparing and writing funeral eulogies to working with video again (which proved particularly valuable during the pandemic).
The call to use this past experience has steadily increased. I do find it satisfying to be able to apply these skills in my ministry, especially in the area of mission and outreach, to help further the Kingdom. It is difficult to explain, but on reflection it appears that two previously discrete elements of my life are being brought together, each giving value to the other.
Your change in role will also involve a move to another parish, can you tell me a little about your new parish?
We will be moving to a lively rural parish, St Mary Our Lady, Sidlesham, a few miles south of Chichester, where I will be part-time priest-in-charge. I love parochial ministry and it was important to me that, in addition to becoming Missioner for The Society, I would be able to continue to be a parish priest sharing in the highs and lows of a community.
What do you think will be your first priorities in the Missioner role?
I think effective communications have a valuable part to play in mission and evangelism. I am a pragmatist, and therefore more of a doer than talker, so the sooner I can start making a positive contribution the better.