10 December 2009

42 St. Giles, Oxford

That would be the new location of St. Bede's Hall, a small Catholic college rooted in the vision of Cardinal Newman. It was announced on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception that this college would be relocating to the city of Oxford, since Greyfriars, a longtime Catholic College that was part of the University, sadly closed its doors in 2008. St. Bede's is affiliated with the Oxford Oratory, part of the congregation founded by St. Philip Neri, and maintains a relationship with the Birmingham Oratory (the other Oratory obviously being the one in London). An interesting tidbit: the building housing St. Bede's was the location of C.S. Lewis's marriage to divorcée Joy Davidson (which was the main reason for the later falling out with friend J.R.R. Tolkien).

Although St. Bede's is an independent college, it delivers Oxford tutorials, just as any other University college, with weekly individual or small-group meetings with tutors, as well as attendance at lectures. Daily Mass and devotions are available only a few doors down at St. Aloysius (the Oxford Oratory), where such notables as Hilaire Belloc, Evelyn Waugh, Msgr. Ronald Knox, and others worshipped.

In other welcome news on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Most Reverend Bernard Longley was enthroned as the ninth Archbishop of Birmingham at St. Chad's Cathedral. A choral scholar at New College, he is rather familiar with Oxford, and will be paying a visit to the city next year.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster presents his successor with the crozier of Bishop William Bernard Ullathorne, OSB, first Bishop of Birmingham, 1850-1888.

Archbishop Longley is closely involved with preparations for the beatification ceremony of Cardinal Newman, which will take place next year, and in his homily held the Cardinal up as an example of faithful witness to the search for truth, which he ultimately found in the Catholic Church. He also added,
I only arrived in my new home last Wednesday (2 December) and on the next day I saw posters and banners advertising the Nativity Trail at the City's Museum and Art Gallery. I felt so encouraged to see this prominent institution, with the support of the City Council, enabling the story at the heart of Christian faith to be experienced and appreciated through the beauty and the message of great works of art in public ownership.
Would that our own civic leaders had the same courage and integrity. Instead, we get holiday displays of the Loch Ness Monster and whales on our courthouse lawns because the City Commissioner fears "offending" the non-religious. Bah! Humbug!

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