Vatican names Maryvale first Higher Institute of Religious Sciences in English-speaking world

Archbishop Longley, Mgr Paul Watson Image: Peter Jennings

Archbishop Longley, Mgr Paul Watson Image: Peter Jennings

The Maryvale Institute at Maryvale House, Old Oscott and the first Catholic home of Blessed John Henry Newman, has been formally named by the Holy See as the first Higher Institute of Religious Sciences in the English-speaking world. It was at 'Mary's Vale' - Maryvale House, situated on the outskirts of north Birmingham, that Father Newman set up the English Oratory of St Philip Neri on 1 February 1848.

The Maryvale Institute was established by Archbishop George Patrick Dwyer in 1980.  The Archbishop of Birmingham was responding to the need for religious formation, in particular for lay people and Religious, to assist in preparing them for diverse lay ministries and fulfilling Cardinal Newman’s vision for a laity well educated in the Faith.

The work started by Archbishop Dwyer has been continued by his successors Archbishop Maurice Couve de Murville, Archbishop Vincent Nichols and now Archbishop Bernard Longley, in their role as President of the Maryvale Institute.

Since the Second Vatican Council, with increased interest in the study of theology, the Holy See has defined and promoted the establishment of Higher Institutes for Religious Sciences.

Maryvale’s method of distance-collaborative learning enables study much more widely and has extended provision across the English-speaking world.

Mgr Paul Watson, Director of the Maryvale Higher Institute of Religious Sciences, said: "Maryvale shares in the New Evangelization for the renewal of the Church promoted by Pope Benedict XVI."

Mgr Watson explained: "Every Higher Institute of Religious Sciences must be attached to a Pontifical Theology Faculty and so Maryvale Institute is now attached to the Faculté de Notre Dame at l’Ecole Cathédrale in Paris and students will receive the Ecclesiastical Graduate and Post-Graduate Degrees of ‘Baccalaureate’ and ‘Licence’."

The Director added: "Special events to mark the new status are being planned for the new academic year in the autumn."

Archbishop Bernard Longley, President of the Maryvale Higher Institute of Religious Sciences, said: “I am delighted that the Holy See has granted this important recognition to the Maryvale Institute.  I hope that it will encourage those who are seeking to deepen understanding and appreciation of their faith within an academic framework that is recognised and esteemed by the universal Church.”

Archbishop Longley added: "The Maryvale Institute has demonstrated both the quality of the courses now recognized by the Holy See through the École Cathêdrąle, and its faithfulness to conciliar and papal teaching.  This recognition strengthens the confidence already felt by many in what Maryvale offers widely within and beyond the Catholic Church.”

The Vatican’s decision is auspicious recognition of Maryvale’s careful and dedicated work over the past 30 years, judging that it provides the appropriate academic and scientific standards faithful to Church teaching.

Following the Second Vatican Council there has been an increased interest among lay members of the Catholic Church, and among those who have undertaken the Religious Life, in the study of theology and other sacred sciences, in order to enrich their faith and to assist them in undertaking their particular apostolates within the Church.

As a result, the Holy See has promoted the establishment of Higher Institutes for Religious Sciences and defined their juridical and academic standing.