Barbara Paskins

Barbara Paskins

From an early age I have been conscious of a missionary streak - a desire to pass on my faith. As a student at Oxford University I studied Chemistry whilst musing on the paradox that my faith was the most important aspect of my life but there was no way for a Catholic woman to study theology in Oxford in the 1950s.

Later, in my parish, I organised a bookstall to sell to others the books I read avidly in the religious publishing boom that followed Vatican 11 and I became a catechist. I had a family and declined to send my children to a Catholic school because - among other things - schools were still teaching that Genesis was literally true. Then, like many others I was shaken by Humane Vitae. It did not square with my own experience of the need to express married love when it was not appropriate to conceive a child.

In the late 80s I spent four exciting years in Dubai, where I was a Science and Religious Education teacher in the multi-cultural Catholic mission school there. On Saturdays, I taught catechism and was privileged to introduce 12 year olds to the Old Testament. They learnt about the different writings to be found in the O.T. before we looked at Genesis! I was also part of the leadership team of a large prayer group.

After returning to England I heard of the work of Housetop, the Centre for Faith Formation, producing videos for the missions and was able to work as a volunteer for nearly a year before I needed to return to full time teaching. But, oh, how I would have loved to work as a parish worker back in Dubai but there was no place for a woman who was not a religious.

At 60 I retired from teaching and rejoined Housetop - now miraculously based in my home town. And, Housetop's renewed focus was on the women's issues! As part of the Housetop team I feel I am working to change attitudes in the Church. I believe passionately that our faith is not irrational and that freedom to debate and development doctrine are essential in the Church. Our knowledge and understanding of the universe and of human beings is growing and our faith must develop alongside. I am horrified that in the Church attitudes to women can still be coloured by the study of St. Thomas Aquinas who thought that women were sub-human.

My work is editing and linking. Once we receive a text it needs to be converted into HYPER TEXT MARKED UP code for the internet. Colours are added to titles, background, etc according to the standard style that we have adopted for our website. Illustrations are inserted - we have 2000 + images at present! Pages receive their "top" and "bottom" bars that give information and are standard to each page. Complex but fun!

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