The new Manchester Universities’ Catholic Chaplaincy arrives (by crane!)

October 13, 2022

One of the busiest roads in Manchester was closed in August to allow the new temporary building for Manchester Universities’ Catholic Chaplaincy to be craned into place.

The closure of the old building has created the opportunity for a new space to be opened while plans to redevelop the old site are considered. In September, activities recommenced with a reception in the new building which has been decorated with artwork by a recently graduated artist.

A glass fronted building was chosen to create a welcoming space where the community life of the students would be visible to the thousands of people passing by on Oxford Road. The Catholic Chaplaincy serves the students and staff of Manchester University, Manchester Metropolitan University, and the Royal Northern College of Music, whose combined staff and students' number nearly 100,000 people. Along with Salford, the city has not only the largest student population in the UK but one of the largest in Europe. The building is located directly opposite the Manchester University Student Union and adjacent to Holy Name Church, at the heart of student spiritual life and one of the best loved Catholic Churches in the city.

Opening night

Celeste Coury, a graduate in Fine Arts from the Manchester Metropolitan University, was chosen to produce a series of four friezes to decorate the rear and righthand interior walls of the building. These works are themed around the polarity of Cosmos and Apocalypse. Their colours were chosen to harmonize with furnishing; their abstract style to create a space for interpretation and discussion. They resonate with the rebirth of the Chaplaincy after a reduced service during the pandemic. The artist has produced a video about the process of creation which can be viewed here:

During the day students are welcomed with free tea, coffee and fast Wi-Fi. At night the building is illuminated by the warm glow given out by carefully chosen lighting. It acts as a beacon of welcome and hope to reveal the joy of the Catholic student community. Among the many regular activities of the chaplaincy are the Saturday Walking Club, Tuesday Night Talks, and social events organized by the Catholic Society. Some students also commit themselves to ecology, social justice and the service of the Church through activities such as litter picking, volunteering and becoming ministers of music and liturgy.

On weekdays, students, teachers and local people fill the pews of Holy Name Church for the daily mass and they are usually packed for the traditional 11am morning mass and the 7pm contemporary evening mass. A highlight of each month is the Night Fever event during which the church is opened for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament from 7:30 to 10pm. Those who pass by in the dark are invited to come and light candles, leave prayer intentions and receive the sacrament of reconciliation.

Holy Name Church

Students who wish to become Catholics or receive the Sacrament of Confirmation are invited to participate in the RCIA (Rite for the Christian Initiation of Adults) program which has helped many students to deepen their faith over recent years.    

The chaplaincy is open on weekdays from 10am to 7pm, and Sunday after the evening mass. Penny, the chaplaincy dog, can often be spotted in the forecourt greeting students as they walk to and from university. She is one of the most important ambassadors for the chaplaincy, bringing moments of joy and affection to Catholic students and many others walking past the building. After a reduced service during the pandemic, Holy Name Student Chaplaincy is being reborn!

Staff at the chaplaincy

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