Charles Plater SJ
Charles Plater SJ (1875-1921)

Charles Plater SJ

Charles Plater was born in Mortlake in September 1875, educated at Stonyhurst and entered the Jesuit novitiate in Roehampton in 1894 where he was ordained in 1910.   Although a talented classicist, he devoted his intellect to the study of industrial economics and the pursuit of social justice through education. Inspired by the retreat-work he witnessed during his travels in Europe, he was determined to popularise retreats for working people and to promote social study in general.  The Catholic Social Movement brought people together to enrich their spiritual lives and to encourage social reform.  While Rector of Oxford (later Campion Hall) Plater travelled all over Britain, giving retreats, delivering lectures, forming study classes and social guilds for working people and wounded ex-servicemen. In 1920 he travelled to Malta for health reasons and, ignoring advice to rest, he founded the Leo Union, which sought to educate, inform, and raise the morale of the working-classes.

When Plater died in Malta in January1921 aged 45, he was honoured in the press: “in the field of social action his death is an irreparable loss.. [he was a] remarkable priest, a pioneer in many movements.”  He was honoured nine months after his death by the foundation of the Catholic Workers’ College in Oxford, which was renamed Plater College in 1965.