The Bishop of Leicester yesterday announced that Revd Canon Karen Rooms will be the next Dean of Leicester – becoming the third person to hold the post.
Revd Canon Karen Rooms was licensed as the Acting Dean of Leicester in January 2023, before which she was the Cathedral’s Sub Dean and Canon Missioner, having moved to Leicester in 2016. In the Diocese, she has served as the Women’s Ministry Enabler and played a pivotal role in founding the community organizing alliance, Leicester Citizens.
We caught up with Karen to hear more.
You haven’t always been a priest. What did you do before you were ordained in 2006?
After working in sales and marketing with Procter and Gamble and logistics with Boots, I worked with the Anglican Church in northern Tanzania where I lived for 7 years with my husband and young children. That wonderful cross-cultural experience really shaped me. While I was there I established a café business in Moshi, which is the centre of Tanzania’s coffee business. After coming back to the UK, I volunteered with Citizen’s Advice and trained for ordination in the Church of England.
What led you to Leicester?
I worked as a parish priest in the inner-city parishes of Hyson Green and then St Ann’s in Nottingham and then became Area Dean of Nottingham South. My ministry has been significantly shaped by community organising. I was a founding leader of Nottingham Citizens, which brought together 42 different institutions to campaign on issues which mattered most to them.
Working with refugees and those seeking asylum in public space led me to explore the very public ministry cathedrals offer so I came to Leicester to be the Cathedral’s Canon Missioner in 2016. I combined this with parish ministry at St Andrew’s Jarrom St and with St Nicholas Church.
What do you love about Leicester and Leicestershire?
I have been very happy here over the last 7 years. Leicester is a great great city in which to live and work. Eating on the Narborough and Belgrave Roads; meeting people from all over the world with important stories to tell; being able to walk and run through the green corridor along the River Soar from Fosse Park to Watermead and at Bradgate Park; and the fantastic arts on offer in the city.
What are your hopes for the future of Leicester Cathedral?
Seeing the Cathedral humming with visitors of all ages from the city, county and across the world, enjoying their time and engaging with the arts and exciting activities. I want everyone who comes here to sense the embrace of God and to know they have been seen and loved. I hope the cathedral can grow in confidence as a centre of worship, justice and mission. I want the people of Leicester and Leicestershire to feel this is their Cathedral and a place they belong.
And what are you most looking forward to about serving as Dean?
I’m most looking forward to re-establishing the Cathedral in the heart of the city, county and diocese as we open the doors of the Cathedral building again and complete our new Heritage and Learning Centre with its facilities. I am excited about our becoming a stronger intercultural worshipping community, and to building partnerships across difference that contribute to Leicester’s flourishing.