Manchester students have ticket to welcome week success

MUSCC welcome stall offering free food to new students
MUSCC welcome stall offering free food to new students

The new academic year got off to a golden start for students at Manchester Universities’ Catholic Chaplaincy (MUSCC).

There was a tangible buzz of excitement as dedicated members of the MUSCC’s student committee went all out to welcome newcomers to Manchester. Lodged between university buildings, sitting beside the Manchester University’s International Society, and facing the Students Union of the same university, MUSCC is perfectly placed to make a big noise during Welcome Week.

Taking advantage of this prime location, the students and staff at MUSCC committed themselves to having their own stalls outside the Chaplaincy every day of Welcome Week. The idea behind the Welcome Week activities was to share the joy of the Chaplaincy family with newcomers, and to let that gift spill out onto the streets!

Students could be seen giving out promotional flyers and talking to passers-by about some of the volunteering opportunities and exciting initiatives starting up at MUSCC. Bake sales were held for Manchester Central Foodbank, (a charity which operates out of the Chaplaincy building), and students helped to raise funds and awareness, while a huge MUSCC welcome banner was unfurled on the wall of the Chaplaincy.

Although a great deal of the focus was on promoting the charitable outreach and social aspects of MUSCC, students added a Catholic flavour to some of the activities on the stall. Students could enter a competition to ‘guess how many rosaries in the jar’ – the first prize being a Golden Ticket which entitled the winner and a friend to three free Sunday meals at the Chaplaincy before Christmas! This Golden Ticket idea proved to be popular as it resonated loud and clear to one of the chief concerns of all students – free food!

Throughout the week, the trusty team of student committee volunteers kept the energy going at the Chaplaincy with a series of social events including a Quiz Night (the prize being free food once again!) Other events included a salsa night, a BBQ and a Pizza Party where students could make their own pizza dough and bake it in a real stone oven! As you have probably guessed, food is a central tenet that binds the Chaplaincy community together, and is  an essential factor in welcoming new people.

Fr Tim Byron SJ and teamThe chaplaincy is steadily growing, and a big part of the pastoral mission there is hospitality. Many of the students, particularly international students, see the chaplaincy as their ‘home from home’, as a place where community and family are experienced.

Fr Tim Byron, Lead Chaplain at MUSCC says, “We’re conscious that for so many people from all over the world, it’s a big change to come to Manchester at such a key point in their lives, and they desire to belong. We hope to provide a space where many different people feel as though they have a family.”

He continues, “We also hope that students can use their gifts and their talents to help the most vulnerable or forgotten members of our society.” This charism of hospitality is overflowing into some of the outreach projects which are starting up at MUSCC. Night shelters run for destitute asylum seekers and refugees coordinated in partnership with the Boaz Trust are set to launch at MUSCC on Saturday 8th October, and they’ll run weekly until May. Meanwhile, aid to the homeless is not only continuing but expanding, with funerals at the Holy Name Church for the homeless in the pipeline, as well as extra support in conjunction with the use of the newly developed Street Support app.

This year looks set to be a great one for MUSCC – keep your eyes peeled for more updates!