Warm Welcome for Catholic Students in Manchester

September 28, 2023

The Manchester Universities Catholic Chaplaincy sparkled with vitality as the new academic year began 

Working together with the Chaplains, the Catholic Society organised a range of activities to help new and returning students to feel at home. As the chaplaincy enters its second year in a temporary building, many of the events were overflowing with people. Some students are beginning to wonder why no plan has been made for the redevelopment of the old chaplaincy building.

After the farewell celebration at the end of the summer for Fr Peter Scally (and Penny his dog), the students were delighted to meet their new chaplain, Fr Dushan Croos. Many of them came to get to know him at an evening of conversation with Fr Phil. He spoke about his own experience as a student in Manchester and his hopes and dreams for the future. In his welcome message, he outlined the purpose of the chaplaincy: ’We are here to help you to find a home in the university, to find a welcoming community, and to help you walk in your journey of faith.’ You can watch the message here and find out more about the Chaplaincy here.

Hundreds of local people had already visited Holy Name Church the previous week. Tours of this extraordinary building were provided free of charge by local historian Adam Brocklehurst as part of the Heritage Open Doors Week. The Church continues to be open during the day throughout the academic year so that people of all faiths and none can enjoy the prayerful peace. More and more people are attending the liturgical services on a Sunday enhanced by two student choirs singing classical and contemporary music.

As well as organising a City Tour, a film night and their normal social events, the Catholic Society also held an evening to commemorate the feast of St Matthew. After a time of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Confession, George Vincent, a student of the History of Art and committee member, gave a talk on St Matthew and his Gospel. Thanks to a significant amount of work by volunteers over the summer the chaplaincy garden was ready and waiting for a pizza party as the sun went down. It provided a relaxing end to what had been an intense and busy week.

The chaplaincy activities also restarted including the weekly rosary and online bible study. This semester students will also have the opportunity to take part in a course course entitled ‘Psalms and Songs of the Hebrew Bible’. The participants will benefit from insights into the original language as they discuss how the psalms resonate with the life of Jesus. A further ten people have signed up to do the “Connect Your Heart” program. This is a version of the the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius adapted for students. The keenly anticipated RCIA (Rite for Christian Initiation of Adults) begins once again in October and has already attracted applications from around ten candidates.

Another highlight of the program is the Saturday Walking Club which departs from Manchester Piccadilly Station every other week to a location outside the city. The first walk this semester began at Broadbottom. Students made their way along a forest footpath beside a trickling stream. They then made a steep climb into the hills to walk along the escarpment above the Etherow River Valley. Climbing down again they paused for lunch in a woodland cabin before tracing their way along the river Gotyt back to Marple Station, the place where Agatha Christi came up with her famous detective.

This year will see a deeper collaboration between the Catholic Chaplaincy and both the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan. Agreements are being set in place for the Chaplaincy to be formally recognised so as to be able to support more students in their faith journeys. It will also see many students take the opportunity to volunteer in the local community. Unfortunately the Anglican and Methodist Chaplaincy based at St Peter’s House has now closed due to cuts in funding leaving many students of other denominations bereft of a spiritual home on campus.

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