Marie-Elsa Roche Bragg is half French, half Cumbrian and was brought up in London. Her first novel ‘Towards Mellbreak’ was published by Chatto & Windus in April 2017 and her second, ‘Sleeping Letters’ is due November 2018. She writes for Radio 4, Church Times, Tablet and other papers. She is a Priest in the diocese of London and a Duty Chaplain of Westminster Abbey.
College & University
Marie-Elsa studied Jewish Mysticism, Midrash and Jewish festivals at Leo Baeck Rabbinical College, Karl Barth and systematic doctrine at Kings college, London University, Philosophy and Theology at Oxford University, and trained for the Priesthood at Ripon College Cuddesdon, Oxford University. Later, she did an MA in Prose Fiction at the University of East Anglia.
Workshops & Retreats
Marie-Elsa has been a Spiritual Director for over 20 years and an Ignatian (Jesuit) Spiritual Director for over 18 of those years. As a Spiritual Director, she works with individuals and groups in daily life and leads workshops and retreats. Her work is with people from different walks of life, traditions, religions and experiences of faith whilst also dedicating part of her work to those in religious orders such as monastic orders, clergy and the Padre’s of the Royal Navy. She also lectures on subjects around theology, Jewish and Christian mysticism, tradition, ritual, interfaith and spirituality. Her personal spirituality includes a continual interest in different traditions alongside a life long connection with Senanque, the Cistercian monastery local to her family in Provence and with the local christianity and literary tradition of the Lake District.
Since 2006 Marie-Elsa has worked in London parishes at the Lisson Green estate and in Kilburn.
House of Commons
In 2007-2009, alongside working in a parish in Kilburn, she was part time assistant to the Speakers Chaplain for the House of Commons and from her work there and has been a part of the assisting team ever since. Recently, after Rev Rose Huddson-Wilkins left to become Bishop of Dover, Marie-Elsa has stepped into the role more including the 19.12.19 state opening.
Marie-Elsa has been Duty Chaplain at Westminster Abbey since 2009.
Lecturer & Programme Director
In 2009, Marie-Elsa was invited to Oxford University Said Business School as a programme director and programme developer, lecturer,and coach on leadership development. There, she worked with businesses and governments around the world. During this time she collaborated with Olivier Mythodrama, a company which uses Shakespeare plays for leadership development and became involved in their programme development, coaching and lead their Tempest programme. She continues to work freelance with OMA and is now the director of ‘Westminster Leadership‘ which is a senior coaching and leadership retreat company.
A large focus of Marie-Elsa’s work is with women; 1-1, groups and on retreats. In 2015-2016 develop an interfaith project with women from Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Christian and Hindu religions. The focus was on both the values and the difficulties of religious life. Other projects have looked at subjects such as domestic violence within orthodox communities and a handbook on women’s religious practices for midwives.
Marie-Elsa is patron of Suicide Bereavement Support Cumbria, a charity working with local groups across Cumbria and she is an ambassador for Power2 a charity that supports children in their time of need and helps them become mentors to younger children themselves. Both charities focus on building a compassionate community we can believe in. She writes for the Church Times as well as other papers and is a member of WATCH Parliament, a small group who work alongside parliament on women’s issues within the Church. She is also a member of The Fawcett Society, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, PEN working for freedom for international writers, Exiled Writers Ink and she supports the Women’s Refugee Commission.