Oxford Catholic Chaplaincy Latest News
Click here for a message from the Chaplains - NOVEMBER 27
The Mass bulletin is published online and updated weekly.
For more details or queries, please contact a Chaplain.
The Chaplains - Fr Damian, Alvea and Fr William
Please join us in welcoming Fr Damian Howard SJ, the new Senior Chaplain at the Oxford University Catholic Chaplaincy! A short introduction from Fr Damian: I was born and brought up in Surrey, just south of London. After studies in music and theology at Trinity...
I am grateful to be able to visit your Chaplaincy and to spend some time with you. It is my opportunity to pray with you, to hear and preach the Word of God in this place, to learn from your experience, to affirm all that is good in the life of the Chaplaincy – especially the ways that you have taken up the Church’s social mission, caring for those who are most in need – and to encourage your witness as disciples who are salt and light in the world.
Wednesday, 7th September: Fr Matthew is on his way to join about 20 Chaplaincy students and young adults on a pilgrimage to and in Italy. Over the next couple of weeks, they will be sharing their experiences on our social media. Please keep an eye out for those, and...
Going to Lourdes with the Oxford and Cambridge pilgrimage was an incredible experience. I think I’ve (mostly) grown out of the expectation that Mary will appear to me personally, so I wasn’t disappointed when I didn’t see her, or any miraculous recoveries.
However, what I did see was something even more wonderful.
I saw people who had travelled from all corners of the earth, and who were incredibly unwell, sometimes close to death, radiant with joy as they flocked to the churches for Mass. The very place where their suffering is given redemptive meaning. I saw people with terrible deformities who were in excruciating pain, but who were completely at peace as they consciously offered up their suffering.
Pilgrims can now emulate Bernadette’s gestures by receiving the gestes de l’eau: three servings of the water from Lourdes in the hands. The pilgrim washes her hands with the first serving, washes her face with the second, then drinks of it, all before a statue of Our Lady. A woman may therefore wash her hands with husband and children, or with friends. They may pray together and face one another throughout.
I think that one of the main graces for me in the week was getting to know my fellow pilgrims, and learning from them about how to embody two virtues associated with Bernadette: humility, and a strong recognition of one’s duty. We took part in the Rosary procession and the Eucharistic Procession as a group, and this was a beautiful experience. On a side note here, if you are like me and struggle to keep up with praying the Rosary sometimes, Lourdes is a place where Mary can help a lot with this- I know she helped me!
Time is transcended and Heaven touches earth. The week of the Oxford-Cambridge Universities Lourdes Pilgrimage 2022 was one endless day, structured by a succession of extraordinary events — ordinary occurrences in this magnificent Marian shrine.
There is a theology of sport. You can look it up! And it’s worth thinking about. In Christian writings you will find the theme of play as a starting point. Play is an activity of pure gratuity, with no productive value, no end beyond itself but the pleasure it gives. Technically it is autotelic. It can be linked to the pure gratuity of God’s creative act in bringing all things into being. Play is an experience of freedom and abandonment.
During our visit, there were numerous services a day that allowed one to be flexible and attend as many as one pleased. Usually, I started the day off with Lauds at 8:30am, though on the last day (after having time to recuperate from Hilary Term), I attended the first service of the day, Vigils at 5:30am. It was so relaxing to listen to the hymns sung by the nuns and it really helped set the prayerful mood for the day. Ending the day with Compline was wonderful and I found praying as a group blissful.
Here in a Catholic Chaplaincy, it’s not only a matter of sharing ideas and perspectives with others. It is also a matter of supporting one another as you journey together in faith.
Your knowledge and understanding does not need to be perfect to play a valuable part in the conversation. Your every statement and claim do not need to be understood as the last word on the matter, your definitive judgment for all time. Inevitably, some of your views will alter and grow; some might grow stronger, some might quietly disappear, whilst others will shift a bit. And, believe me, this applies whether you are in your teens or in your nineties.