Holy Name, Manchester
The Jesuits are set to serve once again at the University of Manchester Catholic Chaplaincy, after a break of two decades. They will be returning to the City this month at the invitation of the Bishop of Salford; over the last 20 years, the chaplaincy has been served by priests of the Diocese of Salford.
Fr Tim Byron SJ will lead the University's Chaplaincy Team from the start of the new academic year. Within the year, a Jesuit community of four will be based at Avila House, the Catholic Chaplaincy, next to the Church of the Holy Name of Jesus on Oxford Road.
Built by the Jesuits in 1871, the Holy Name remained the home of the Society of Jesus until 1992. The church is in the heart of Manchester University's campus and next door to the University hospitals. Since 1992, the Holy Name has continued as a vibrant city-centre church under the care of Fr Ray Matus.
The Jesuits were originally invited to come to Manchester in the late 1860s by Bishop William Turner of Salford. At that time, the population of the area was growing significantly with the development of industry in the city and the immigration of Irish Catholic workers. The church was designed by Joseph . Hansom & Son and opened in 1871. It is the largest church in Manchester and a Grade I listed building. In 1928, a tower was erected in memory of the church's famous Rector, Fr Bernard Vaughan SJ.
By the time of the Second World War, the Jesuits were ministering to the students of Manchester University, which had been steadily growing. They established a Catholic Society and eventually, in the 1960s, built a Chaplaincy for the Catholic students who worshipped at Holy Name Church. Holy Name ceased to be a parish church in 1987 and, in 1992, the Jesuits withdrew from Manchester, although they retained a presence in the City through the offices of the Jesuit Volunteer Community which provides full-time programmes for young adults who wish to volunteer and live beside some of the poorest and most marginalised people in Britain today.
Bishop Brain has invited Fr Matus to move with the Community from Avila House to St Chad's in Cheetham Hill. It is hoped that here, a new Oratory will be established as a permanent Oratory in the Congregation of Oratorians of St Philip Neri thereby securing the future of the Oratorians in Manchester.
The Bishop said: "These changes will enable the Oratorian community to firmly establish itself and also provides the opportunity for the Catholic university chaplaincy to develop a team that will support the growing student population over the next decade and onwards. I acknowledge the work that has been done by the priests, religious and lay members of the Chaplaincy. I have always believed that we in Salford Diocese have a special obligation to offer a good faith experience to the young men and women who come to study in the universities within the diocese. I welcome the renewed collaboration with the Jesuits in this ministry".
Fr Dermot Preston SJ, the British Jesuit Provincial, said: "The Jesuits are delighted to be returning to the Catholic Chaplaincy at Manchester University. Ministry to young people has always been at the heart of Jesuit values and our return to Manchester will build on our chaplaincy work in London and Oxford. It will enable us to work closely with a generation that often feels alienated from organised religion but which is, nonetheless, generous and eager to serve. Our mission will be to support the diverse University community to discover the value of a life of faith, to develop skills of service and to discern their life path".
Source: Jesuit Communications Office