Saturday 9 October 2010

Ushaw College to close

I heard the sad news yesterday that the seminary at Ushaw, St Cuthbert's College, is to close after 206 years (and with a further 200 years of history at Douai before that).

My cynical side wonders if everything possible has been done to save this exceptional building together with all it stands for. We seem to have a will to close anything that speaks of our Catholic history in this country while being prepared to open or install ourselves in buildings and places that have no Catholic tradition attached to them. Another example of the hermeneutic of dis-continuity? This goes for our churches where it seems that is always the modern hut that stays open while anything that links us with the past is closed. Examples include...

Ss Peter and Paul's in New Brighton where the congregation is now invited to worship in the local Anglican church...

The diocesan offices in Liverpool moved to a 1970s school building while the seminary at Upholland was sold off...

The diocesan offices in Leeds now housed in a former Anglican convent while what had been the youth centre at Middleton Lodge (in Catholic hands for almost a thousand years) has also been sold.

Once these places have gone, we will never have the funds to establish again in these areas and if the Church has no presence in an area then the presence of Christ and the possibility of people discovering him there is also lost.

What about the seminaries abroad? We keep a seminary in Valledolid, Spain (the rumour is that if this closes it cannot be sold but passes back to the Spanish state). Presently, it is used as a first year of seminary education for all English seminarians. We also have two colleges in Rome - the Beda is used for "late" vocations - could this not be transferred to Ushaw? I have often heard it said that we should not be training our priests in a foreign country for ministry here. But if that is okay, could it not be offered to countries where they are desperate for seminary places - not to mention any of the new "Traditional" movements! And, as I was attempting to say at our deanery meeting (sorry, Pastoral Area Meeting, as I must now call it) what if we do get more vocations in the future? Have we completely given up on that idea? Whist we are bidden to meetings, lectures, presentations and DVD veiwings on how to manage our decline I have not eperienced any such energy being put into a drive for new vocations. Yet a small French diocese of Frejus-Toulon, where the bishop welcomes those who wish to celebrate the Extraordinary Form as well as the Ordinary Form of the Mass and the new communities had so many ordinations this year (13 priests and 21 Deacons) that the Cathedral was too small and they had to hold the ceremonies ourdoors:

I worry that it will simply end up being locked up and left to rot like the junior seminary attached to Ushaw. See an earlier blog here:
Apart from the wonderful buildings there are the treasures they contain , including the Library. Not to mention all the history of the Church in this country that the place embodies.
I came across a roll of alumni from 1912 "which includes close on to 5000 names. It embraces over 1000 priests, 30 bishops, 5 archbishops, and 4 cardinals: Wiseman, De la Puente, Bourne, and the Cardinal Secretary of State, (the Servant of God) Rafael Merry del Val, who was not only a student and also a "minor" professor at Ushaw. (The cause for his Beatification is well under way.) Prominent names in almost every profession and almost every country can be found there. Law is represented in England by Mr. Justice Shee, the first Catholic post-Reformation judge; by Judge O'Connor, former deputy chairman of committees in the House of Commons; in India by Mr. Justice John Power Wallis, Judge of the High Court of Madras; in Canadaby the Hon. James Foy, Attorney-general of Ontario; in the United States by Joseph Scott of Los Angeles, a prominent official of the Knights of St Columbas. Statesmanship is represented by the present Under-Secretary for the Home Office, William Patrick Byrne, C. B.; the services by General Montague Gerard, K. C. B., Major Miles O'Rielly; commander of the Irish Brigade at Castelfidardo, and Commodore Edward f. Charlton, Commodore of the Eastern Destroyer Flotilla; art by Charles Napier Hemy, the Royal Academician; architecture by George and Edward Goldie and the youngest Pugin; literature by such names as Lingard the historian, Francis Thompson the poet, Wilfred Ward the editor of the "Dublin Review", and Joseph Gillow, the compiler of the well-known "Bibliographical Dictionary of the English Catholics"."

Some views of the seminary as it was can be seen here:


F Marsden said...

Hello, Fr Simon, Just discovered your blog.

Yes, very sad about Ushaw closing, and very unfair on the students - if they go to Oscott or Allen Hall, they may have to make up a number of courses for the STB or PhB (Louvain), because the course structures are not very compatible.

The closure should have been managed over 3-4 years to allow some synchronisation of course material.

Still, we reap what we sow. Forty years of rubbishy catechetics have produced a catastrophic decline in the Church, and although Lancaster and Shrewsbury are going through a turn round, certain other dioceses are still stuck with the same insipid nonsense in their schools, and probably with sweeping parish closures to come in the next ten years.

Ushaw bites the dust, but isn't it wonderful that Oscott and Maryvale are going from strength to strength!

Fr Francis Marsden

Peter said...

The news of the closure is not yet given on the seminary website. How odd.

On Toulon I have a contact there who suggests that the Bishop spends too much time away from the diocese. I do not know enough about this to say how fair this is.
It seems also that a number of the priests ordained come from outside the diocese. So again there may be things that we do not know.
What is clear is that orthodoxy is encouraged and this is surely something good. The website is well worth a visit too for French readers.

David O'Neill said...

In addition to the fact that the LMS organises the week long course for priests wishing to learn to celebrate the EF of Mass we must look at the waste in the diocese of Hexham & Newcastle where MILLIONS of pounds were spent setting up a Youth (or should that be YOOF) Village when probable half of the amount could have been expended in renewing (& updating) Ushaw College where for so many years priests were formed to serve the Church.
Please look at my blog

Belldavid1000 said...

The Church is an Organism. A very delicate organism based on an invisible belief that we are all taught and inspired to bring into the physical world.
Sadly, the Victorian Era's last gasp,,,ember really is the survival of two things
-Our Blessed Queen Elizabeth and the hard times She Is inherited from.
-and both the Roman and Anglican Church's waining while the new Age of Enlightenment has begun with the discovery of the Atom, the "god partial" and everything else connected in the tinker-toy assemblage of our modern world.
It used to be said (by Carl Marx) "religion is the opium of the people" well,,,,it's changed to, the computer is the opium of the people. And it is. It's not a bad thing, but it's a disapline that will and has lulled the mind to darker places then the average mind was ever to know. This can be said of the positive too. We've seen religion used in the wrong too to be fare.

The beautiful architecture is the culmination of this belief system afore mentioned. It is the physical metamorphosis of the invisable thing we call Faith.
To save the Pugin Chapel, I would tare everything else down imidiately, and start from the beginning. This will assure that the Chapel will at least survive another 50 years of bottomless pit maintainence it probably all costs. And then Hope that the culture in that day will take a new interest in these Victorian structures. What Saint was it who cut off a part of his body to survive?