Manchester Universities' Catholic Chaplaincy
The Jesuits resumed full time service of the Manchester Universities’ Catholic Chaplaincy and the Holy Name Church in September 2012. A team of five Jesuits is now resident in the chaplaincy building, next to the Church of the Holy Name of Jesus on Oxford Road. Built by the Jesuits in 1871, the church is in the heart of the Manchester Universities’ campus and next door to the University hospitals. It is supported by the Diocese of Salford and aims to provide a warm and safe environment in which students feel secure, and are enabled to grow in appreciation and understanding of the Catholic Christian tradition. The chaplaincy has seen a great surge in energy and activity in the last 12 months. Mass attendance is now about 600 each weekend. A Sunday service was broadcast live on Radio 4 to an estimated audience of 2 million UK listeners. There are 22 students going through the RCIA programme and 40 receiving spiritual direction. 154 students are now registered on the chaplaincy website which offers information on over 30 different activities and groups.
The chaplaincy has initiated an extensive student outreach and volunteering programme, including soup runs for homeless people five nights per week. The students fund and run a breakfast club for the Holy Name Primary School in Moss Side, an area of severe deprivation. 80% of the pupils now receive a good breakfast and equally important are befriending students who are helping to raise their educational aspirations. The commitment to a local nursing home is equally impressive with a regular visiting programme and a series of inter-generational dinners.
The Manchester chaplaincy is responsible for the first student-run Foodbank in the UK, in association with the Trussel Trust. Its launch in October 2013 received nationwide media attention. In the first 5 months 2,300kg of food have been distributed to 464 people (252 adults and 212 children). The students are trained to 'signpost' people to other agencies e.g. for advice on debt management, mother and toddlers groups, free cookery courses etc.
The chaplaincy also has a strong cultural life. There will be a film-writing competition in collaboration with the Insight Film Festival – the prize is a six week placement in Hollywood. The Holy Name has hosted eight student orchestral concerts this year as well as an organ prize for the Royal Northern College of Music.
Chaplain: Fr Tim Byron SJ