We’ve been immensely fortunate to journey since October with many inspirational people.

Their biogs and our recordings of their talks are available here.
Do please explore this ‘spiritual storecupboard.’


Past Guests

We’re always very happy to hear from you so feel free to email us your thoughts on our past guests or on any other related topic at hello@rootandbranchsynod.org and share our website with others

Recording available below

SISTER IMELDA POOLE MBE will talk on 'Walking with Francis towards an inclusive, status free church.' She is a native of Great Britain, and a sister of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (IBVM). After many years in the field of Education and grass roots mission in the UK, her ministry moved to Albania where the Archbishop of Tirana invited the Congregation to work in the mission against Human Trafficking. This led to her co-founding an NGO called Mary Ward Loreto (MWL) which addresses the root causes of trafficking, including poverty and is involved in the rescue and rehabilitation of victims of trafficking. Sister Imelda currently serves as the President of Religious in Europe Networking Against Trafficking and Exploitation (RENATE).

Recording available below

THOMAS O'LOUGHLIN is Professor Emeritus of Historical Theology in The University of Nottingham, and the Director of Studia Traditionis Theologiae. He is a sought-after speaker and the author of Eating Together, Becoming One, and The Rites and Wrongs of Liturgy - why good liturgy matters. We look forward to hearing his deeply insightful research. He has sent us his article ‘How many priests do we need?’ to read ahead. During his talk, Tom recommended reading Why drink is the secret to humanity’s success, an article by Robin Dunbar.

Recording available below

RUBY ALMEIDA is a Catholic Indian woman and LGBTQ+ member. Former Media lecturer and Chair of Quest UK, a pastoral support for LGBTQ+ Catholics. Current Co-Chair of Global Network of Rainbow Catholics and Founder member of Rainbow Catholics India. Always striving to create strength and unity for the marginalised amongst the marginalised.


Recording available below

DR JOHN O’LOUGHLIN KENNEDY is a retired economist and serial social entrepreneur. He is not an ex-priest or seminarian. He has studied the management structure and the policies and priorities of the Roman Catholic Church. He recently published a book in which he proposes some remedies for the problems that the Church as currently managed is chronically unable to cope with. The Curia is the Pope (2021), published by Mount Salus Press, uncovers some history, theology, and sociology, and justifies the impatience of the faithful with the self-serving bureaucracy that manages the pope and controls access to him. The curia outlasts him and rules the bishops, and is thus the de facto, and unsuitable, government of the church.

Recording available below

ALICJA BARANOWSKA and friends will update us on the rigorous Church in Poland, and the struggle for change. Alicja Baranowska comes from Poland but since 2007 has been living and working first in London, then  in the heart of the European Union in Brussels, Belgium. In 2009 an article in a Polish Catholic weekly “Tygodnik Powszechny” on the issue of women’s ordination encouraged her to seek contacts with reform groups in the Roman Catholic Church. Initially she volunteered as a translator for Womenpriests.org, and from 2011 she joined Women’s Ordination Worldwide as an Individual Member representing Poland. Since 2016 she has served on WOW’s Leadership Circle. She’s part of Catholic Women Speak network. A member of the initiative intended to be a Polish branch of the ‘We Are Church’ movement (in its initial phase) as well as having connections with other reform circles in Poland.

Brief montage of all speakers, followed by recording of Zoom session

Recording available below

MARY JO MCELROY is Coordinator of the international Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation team of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary (RSHM). She spent 20 years in the North East of Brazil working with the Basic Christian Communities, which gave her a new understanding of Church. She is now in Noddfa Spirituality Centre in North Wales, where, in non-pandemic times, the community welcome a great variety of groups.

Recording available below

For the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Born in 1585, MARY WARD died excommunicated by the Church. Her crime was that in 1609, she dared to found an order of religious women modelled on the Society of Jesus, with a freedom from religious enclosure and a readiness for apostolic works which would put them at the direct service of the Church. She taught girls that "women, in time to come, will do much". Her schools and colleges around the world follow her example today. Join us as we celebrate her profoundly inspiring life and work in a service of love and remembrance. She died within the Octave of prayer for Christian Unity and is a figure that brings together those who work for inclusion in the churches.

Mary Ward Celebration LiturgyRoot & Branch Synod
00:00 / 34:26


Recording available below

KATE MCELWEE currently serves as the Executive Director of the Women's Ordination Conference, where she has worked since 2011. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts earning a degree in Religion and later earned an M.A. in International Human Rights Law from SOAS (London). Kate serves on the Leadership Circle of Women's Ordination Worldwide and the Parish Council of Caravita Catholic Community in Rome, where she and her husband have lived since 2014. She is a respected activist and advocate for gender equality in the Catholic Church and her work is frequently featured in international media outlets, as well as published in various collections on women in the Church.


Recording available below

KATHY GIBBONS SCHUCK was ordained a Roman Catholic Woman Priest in 2015 (thus incurring automatic excommunication) and serves on the pastoral team at the intentional community of St Mary Magdalene in Pennsylvania. We are so grateful that she will join us to talk about her life and answer our questions.


Recording available below

JAMES CARROLL is a national award-winning author of over 20 books, and of the forthcoming; The Truth at the Heart of the Lie - How the Catholic Church lost its Soul. Join us with this distinguished speaker and writer to hear his wisdom, his grief at our Church’s failures, and his hope for its future.


Recording available below

COLM HOLMES & SOLINE HUMBERT (VATINEL) of We are Church Ireland have campaigned for Church reform since 1993: Women’s ordination; Decision-making by lay people; Welcome for LGBTQ persons; Married priests. Soline has had a vocation to the Catholic priesthood since she was 17, and ministers as a Spiritual Director.


Recording available below


LUCA BADINI CONFALONIERI is Director at the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research. Wijngaards focus on producing pioneering theological research by coordinating leading academics worldwide to collaborate on reports tackling the Church’s officially uncomfortable, difficult, and disputed areas. Luca steers cutting-edge research and collaboration in theology, and other relevant disciplines. Come and meet him on Zoom, to learn first-hand about their world-leading international research calling for change and women’s true place in the Church, and to find out what led him to dedicate his life to helping the Church to reform.