An awards ceremony was held in Westminster last week to announce the successful recipients of Charles Plater Trust funding. The Trust, established as a result of the sale of Plater college in 2006, makes grants from the returns on the capital of the sale (over £5 million). The funding is awarded against a specific theme each year, with this first year's theme being 'Leadership development for the laity, particularly in the area of social justice and social action, to equip individual Catholics to apply Catholic social teaching and play an active part in the Church's mission.' Thirty seven applications for funding were received and whilst £203,409 was disbursed, the chair of the grant making body expressed his regret at their not being able to fund other strong, worthy projects. At the opening of the awards ceremony, the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor said that when Plater College closed, the Archbishop Trustees were "determined that the aims of the founder, Fr Plater, and the ongoing work of the college should continue, though in a different way." He believed that the award recipients were causes "in line with the vision of Fr Plater." The three successful award winners were: Young Christian Workers £86,319 To "build an innovative 'School for Life' meeting 'ordinary' young people in the midst of their daily realities and training them as leaders in the lay apostolate." "This work will enable hundreds of young people to grow as lay leaders, equipping them to take an active part in society, promoting Gospel values and applying the principles of Catholic Social Teaching in their lives and the wider mission of the Church; home and family, work and study, leisure, local community and parish." International Young Leaders Network/Leaders to Come £40,000 "For step change development in the work and impact of the existing International Young Leaders Network/Leaders to Come Programme." "The programme uses a unique pedagogy influenced by the Dominican encounter with the Catholic social tradition and seeks to work with in excess of 2000 young people in the period of any grant." St Mary's University College Resource Allocation and Social Justice £17,090 To support Catholics working in healthcare, especially those in leadership roles, to draw upon the resources of Catholic Social thought, especially in the area of resource allocation. Five university and university colleges £60,000 St Mary's University College, Newman University College, Liverpool Hope University & Archdiocese of Liverpool, Leeds Trinity and All Saints College and Heythrop College, London were also given a total of £60,000 to enable them to work on a collaborative project. All five HEIs wish to develop provision in the area of Catholic Social Teaching to enable lay people to make a contribution to society based on these principles. Such a development will contribute to the distinctive nature of Catholic higher education for example, enabling all students at their colleges to have an entitlement to learning about Catholic social teaching, whether they are working in education, care or any of many other avenues. Collecting the award for 'Resource Allocation and Social Justice', Professor David Jones, Director of the Centre for Bioethics & Emerging Technologies at St Mary's University College, Twickenham said: "When people think of Catholic healthcare, they think of abortion, of problems of conscience. They don't think about how you share out the resources using the intellectual resources of Catholic social teaching. "We want to bring together clinicians, people working in management and philosophers and theologians so that you have a real discourse between people who know about it in theory and people who have to deal with it at the coal-face. "it is about skilling people and getting them to know their own tradition but it's also something that will be attractive not only to the Catholic community and can be offered to the health service more generally." Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor stressed that the formation of lay people was a major priority for the Church "we want articulate, well-formed Catholics," he said. The theme for year two is 'Imaginative projects providing education for education for people from the most marginalised sectors of society' and year three 'the intellectual endeavour of refreshing Catholic thought within our own British context, for example, through scholarship and writing or policy information.' Archbishop Vincent Nichols concluded the awards ceremony, fully confident in the belief that the Plater Trust will "serve the Church well for many years to come." Following the decision to close Plater College in 2005, the premises were sold in 2006. The balance of the capital, once fees and expenses related to the sale were paid, amounted to over £5 million. The money has been invested in a separate Trust account and is ring fenced by the trustees solely for the purposes of continuing the Plater tradition.
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