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Meet the New Dean of Leicester; The Very Revd Karen Rooms

Karen Rooms was officially installed as the new Dean of Leicester back in March. Here she tells us about herself, her new role and her vision for the future of the church – including the city’s historic cathedral.

After being closed for over two years, Leicester Cathedral is finally welcoming back the masses, following a £12.7 million renovation. There have been several significant changes, including a new floor, new heating, toilets and lighting, all designed to ‘enhance the visitor experience’ at the hugely popular attraction.

Picture: Diocese of Leicester

However, these are not the only changes within the building’s historic walls. The Very Revd Karen Rooms – Leicester’s new Dean, is now in charge of its vision for the future. And she couldn’t be more excited about taking the reins.

“I really want this to be a cathedral for everyone. I talk about it having ‘transparent walls’ and I’d really love people in the city to feel comfortable about walking in and out – having a little peak or staying to explore and enjoy the space,” she tells Pukaar.

“I know that some people may feel intimidated by such a great big building and think ‘it’s not for me,’ but I want it to be somewhere where everyone feels welcome.

“A lovely building speaks something of beauty and there’s beauty in God, so I want to share it with everyone,” she adds.

Karen was ordained as a priest back in 2006, after working previously in sales and marketing. Whilst living in Nottingham, she also worked in Logistics Management for Boots, and volunteered as a Citizen’s Advice Advisor.

However, the seven years she spent working in East Africa with the Anglican Church, sparked her desire to transition into the priesthood.

“I set up a cafe business, which generated income for church projects. However, as time went on, I noticed that I became drawn into more ‘churchy’ responsibilities – walking with people and helping them to explore their own spiritual journey,” she explained.

“I really liked doing that, and began to enjoy it more than running the business. It had a significant sense of meaning to me, so that’s why I began to explore the idea of becoming a priest when I came back to England.”

Karen has enjoyed living in Leicester since 2016. The diversity and culture of the city are two things she loves.

She is looking forward to the cathedral’s new ‘Heritage and Learning Centre’ opening later this year. The building will be a place where communities can express themselves through exhibitions and different ‘ways of telling Leicester’s story.’

“I hope that we’ll be able to do some really interesting projects and work with different communities so that those stories can be told and celebrated,” said the new Dean.

“We hope that people will feel seen and be able to see something of their story in what they encounter.”

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