Campion House reunion

More than 60 priests - all former students of Campion House, Osterley - concelebrated Mass at Sacred Heart Church, Wimbledon, on 15 April, and recalled their days at the College for Late Vocations. They were joined by many others who had studied at Osterley and who remain active in the Church as lay people.

The Reunion Mass had been organised by Father Denis Blackledge SJ, one of Campion House's last Rectors, and the Principal Concelebrant was Father Paul J Smith of the Portsmouth Diocese, the most recent Osterley student to have been ordained to the priesthood.

The homily was delivered by another former Rector, Fr Chris Dyckhoff SJ, who drew parallels between the 'enterprise' referred to by St Edmund Campion ("It is of God: it cannot be withstood") and the work of Campion House over its 85 years.

Between 1919, when the Jesuits founded it, and 2004, when it closed its doors, Campion House helped prepare over 1,500 men for the priesthood. Among them was Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue of Lancaster who had written a message for the Osterley Reunion. "My journey to the priesthood suffered a setback initially," he recalled.

"The Diocesan Vocations' Director deemed me 'too old' at 25! However, Father Tigar (the Jesuit Rector of Campion House at the time) came to my rescue and graciously welcomed me to Osterley in 1959."

Fr Dyckhoff reminded the congregation that Bishop O'Donogue's successor in Lancaster, Michael Campbell OSA, was also a student of Campion House (as was Bishop George Stack of Westminster).

At the end of the Mass, the concelebrants and congregation processed to one of the chapels where the brass plaques containing the names of priests who had studied at Osterley are now sited. Over the past few months, the Jesuits have been appealing for any priests whose names were not on the list to contact them, resulting in a further 19 names being added - 11 men ordained between 2003 and 2007, and a further four from previous years that had been omitted.

There were also four students who had been ordained Permanent Deacons, including William Wright who assisted at the Reunion Mass. The celebration concluded with the British Jesuit Provincial, Father Michael Holman SJ, blessing the plaques and the entire assembly singing the Salve Regina.

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