Wimbledon College’s 125 Advent challenges

Wimbledon College's Advent Calendar
Wimbledon College's Advent Calendar

Wimbledon College in south west London has produced an online Advent Calendar with daily reflections for the journey through Advent. The College is celebrating 125 years of Jesuit education and its Advent Fundraising Campaign this year is for the Jesuit Refugee Service, with boys (and staff) taking on sponsored 125 themed challenges to raise money.

Wimbledon College started its life in the parlour of the presbytery of the newly established Sacred Heart Church and was based at 3 Cranbrook Road: the nave of the church was opened on the Feast of the Sacred Heart (17 June) in 1887 and the first school day in Wimbledon was 18 January 1892.  Father James Nicholson SJ was the first headmaster and only two boys were enrolled - the Lloyd brothers. In fact, it was only the eldest, Thomas, who attended on that first day, as his brother was ill. Six more pupils joined after the first academic year, but not before the school had moved twice: briefly to a house in Darlaston Road, and then to a building adjoining the All England Lawn Tennis Courts.

In 1893, Wimbledon College moved to where it remains, toward the top of Edge Hill. This was a result of a shrewd move by Father John Clayton SJ, who was the Provincial of the (then) English Province. Father Clayton had spotted that Wimbledon School was up for sale, and immediately telegraphed to England from Loyola, instructing the Jesuit Fathers to acquire the property. The transfer to the new site was completely by June 1893 and school numbers grew quickly, so that, by 1900, over 100 pupils had enrolled.

Rosary, maths and sportWimbledon College pupils start their 125 decades of the Rosary for Advent

“Since this is our 125th year as a Jesuit school - 125 years of forming 'men for others' - we wanted to mark this anniversary in this spirit of generosity and service to others," says Wimbledon College’s Chaplain, James Potter. "We've chosen to fundraise for the amazing work of JRS this Advent, by challenging our community to take up 125 themed sponsored challenges. Boys have been coming up with a whole host of ideas, from memorising pi to 125 decimal places, to doing 125 press-ups a day throughout Advent. Other challenges so far include: reading 125 pages of a book each day in Advent, 1250m swims, 125 laps of the pool, 12.5km bike rides and 125 minutes' silences. One group of boys is praying 125 decades of the Rosary for refugees over Advent, while others are learning 125 world flags, solving Rubik's cubes in under 125 seconds or memorising 125 FA team names."

Wimbledon College students are coming up with new ideas all the time, according to James, all using the numbers 1-2-5 as their inspiration, such as a silence lasting over three weeks: one hour's silence in week one, two hours the following week, and then five hours' silence in week three. Even the Chaplain himself is not immune to the challenges: "I am going to attempt to run 125km over the course of Advent," says James.  "Whether they all come off is another matter, but hopefully they will raise a lot of money in the process."

Throughout Advent, the College will be tweeting profiles of different challenges along with pics on the twitter @Wimb_Coll. It has also been lent a Lampedusa cross by JRS and students will be using this as a focus for their prayer services throughout the season.The Wimbledon College online Advent Calendar offers daily video reflections, with the theme 'God works through people'.