Faith is thriving in the heart of Manchester

May 28, 2023

As the academic year draws to a close at the Manchester Universities’ Catholic Chaplaincy, students have been celebrating two important events at Holy Name Church.

The first is the reception of eight people into the Catholic Church after their year long journey of faith. The second is the commissioning of seventeen Eucharistic Ministers after the reintroduction of Holy Communion under both kinds. Both moments revealed the thriving faith of young people right at the heart of Manchester.

Each year the Chaplaincy organises an RCIA Program (Rite for Christian Initiation of Adults) running throughout the academic year. The course covers the most important areas of the Catholic Faith from the Sacraments to Social Teaching and devotion to Our Lady. It aims to be an open and honest conversation about Catholicism so that candidates can allow their sense of belonging to deepen. Their year-long journey of faith culminated in a mass celebrated on the Feast of Pentecost on 28th May by Bishop Terence Brain at which they received the Sacraments. It was a deeply moving celebration for those who had accompanied them as well as for the whole community at Holy Name.

Since the closure of the Chaplaincy Building by the Diocese of Salford, the Chaplains have been working out of a prefabricated building on Oxford Road right opposite the Students’ Union. Some of those received into the Church admitted that they first started to enquire about Catholicism after seeing the building and deciding to drop in for a chat. The situation is far from ideal since the building is cramped, providing neither facilities for cooking nor rooms for individual conversations. However, thanks to the hard work of Chaplains and students, it has become a regular port of call for young people where they can deepen their sense of belonging through conversations and friendship.

The reception of communion under both kinds was prohibited during the pandemic by the Bishop’s Conference of England and Wales for health reasons. It was reintroduced on Maundy Thursday this year at the discretion of local Bishops. Rather than dragging their feet, the Chaplains decided to seize this opportunity at once. Seventeen Eucharistic Ministers, most of them students, were invited to take up the ministry. Over the course of three evening sessions, Fr Peter Scally taught the basics of Eucharistic Theology and the pastoral knowledge they would need to become a Eucharistic Minister.

The commissioning took place on the 14th and 15th May during mass. During the rite, they were reminded to observe Jesus’ commandment: ‘love one another as I have loved you’. They then committed themselves to serve in building up the Church by becoming Eucharistic Ministers, resolving to administer the Body and Blood of Christ with utmost reverence and care. The hearts of the congregation were moved at the sight of so many young people dedicating themselves to this important ministry.

Of course, the communion wine used during the mass at Holy Name is blended according to Fr Peter’s top secret recipe. It is far cheaper than the mass wine bought from suppliers and tastes even better!

The Holy Name Church has been experiencing something of a rebirth after the pandemic, with mass attendance returning to pre-pandemic levels and then increasing. Unfortunately, the old chaplaincy building is now falling into disrepair with plaster falling from the ceiling and problems with burst pipes. No plan has yet been made by the Diocese of Salford for its redevelopment.

You can find out more about the Manchester Universities Catholic Chaplaincy by clicking here.

You can find out more about the Holy Name Church in Manchester by clicking here.

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