The Chaplain

January 23, 2023

The Chaplain, a film about Matthew Power, a Chaplain at the University of Oxford

Blog by Fr Matthew Power SJ

Six months on from filming, and I am glad to be able to say that things are going well at the Oxford University Catholic Chaplaincy. Many of the wonderful personalities you’ll have got a glimpse of are still with us, and those who’ve moved on from Oxford are now, it would appear, settling into the next stages of their lives, not always a straightforward transition, so our prayers go with them.

We have just launched into Hilary (the Easter) term and that will mean a sequence of some fairly well established events in our calendar: the Rites of Welcome and Election for our candidates for the Sacraments (baptism and confirmation), our Vacation Projects Fair when a wide variety of organisations offering summer vacation or gap year opportunities will be with us for a day; our Chaplaincy ‘Big walk’, our midterm brunch, the latter two events being particular highpoints for me – I cook the brunch! We will be welcoming Archbishop Longley to one of our Sunday Masses, and we very much look forward to the events organised by the Newman Society, the Oxford University Catholic Society, that does so much to build up a sense of community and foster the faith amongst Catholic students in Oxford.

Football at the Chaplaincy

So that’s ahead of us, and as I look back over the Michaelmas Term and the summer holiday, there’s much for us to be grateful for. One of our young researchers organised a fabulous pilgrimage (including six days walking) to Assisi and Rome; the Oxford/Cambridge Lourdes pilgrimage was a very blessed time: the two main events of the summer. Whilst last term, we were delighted to see first year undergrads and grads turning up at the Chaplaincy and quickly becoming at home here. Our resident community (of 11 students) are a very happy bunch, and contribute positively to the wider community, looking after the music for our Sunday Masses, the sacristy and the Chaplaincy football, to mention just some of things that they get up to.

A highlight of the term was the annual Week of Guided Prayer, which is organised for us by the Jesuit Province spirituality team. Over 50 took part, not the largest number in the history of the event – that was before my time - but certainly a very encouraging number.

Guided prayer at the Chaplaincy

We enjoyed the filming and we hope you all got a sense of the Chaplaincy as the happy place that it is. Of course, there are challenges, and demands, but there is a strong sense here of the place being very graced. We have very good facilities, a domestic team that work hard to keep everywhere looking welcoming, wonderful students. What I didn’t say in the film, how much of a team effort goes into the Chaplaincy year, with Alvea Fernandes, and Fr William Pearsall SJ, the Assistant Chaplains, very much to the fore. That collaborative dimension is such an important part of our Jesuit way of proceeding these days, something for which I am very grateful. Please keep us all in your prayers.

If you are thinking about your place in the world, interested in exploring your vocation or calling, or want to know more about the Society of Jesus, please visit the vocations page on our website here.

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