Sunday 2 September 2012

New Oratory for Manchester

The interior of St Chad's
in Cheetham Hill Road,
what is now to be the Manchester Oratory
Congratulations to Fr Ray Matus and the brethren at the Church of the Holy Name, Manchester, where for twenty years they have superbly renovated and looked after the church and built up a truly beautiful life of devotion and worship for themselves and the congregation.  They have announced that Bishop Brain has given his approval for them to be formally erected as a congregation of the Oratory of St Philip.  Not in their present home, but still very near the city centre at the church of St Chad on Cheetham Hill Road.
Link here to their website to this announcement.
With great thanksgiving to Almighty God, our Blessed Lady and our Holy Father St Philip, we can announce that the Bishop of Salford given his approval for the erection of the Congregation of the Oratory of St Philip Neri in Manchester.
The Manchester Oratory will be close to the city centre at St Chad’s, Cheetham Hill, which is the Mother Church of the City.
We will continue to be at the Holy Name until Advent, or when arrangements have been finalised. The Holy Name will then be part of the Chaplaincy to the Universities on Oxford Road staffed by the Society of Jesus.
A Letter from His Lordship will be read the weekend of 1st / 2nd September to the Congregations at the Holy Name and St Chad’s.
Please keep us in your prayers at this time.
 Fr Ray, Fr Christopher, Br Richard, Br Andrew, Br David


Anonymous said...

Bishop Brain's official statement expresses it as a hope "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". Has the Congregation been canonically erected then? As there are only two priests is this possible yet?
Such a shame to move from the Holy Name though - St Chads is in a very run down part of Manchester and quite a walk from the centre. Didn't the Norbertines try to make a go of it there when they left Corpus Christi Basillica? Be interesting to see if the Jesuits return the forward facing altar at the Holy Name.

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Anonymous said...

I can't but help feel that this is a bittersweet triumph for Fr Ray and the community. Over the last 20 years he had invested so much time and energy into reviving the beautiful and prominent Holy Name Church both structurally an spiritually.
In additon there was a generous trust fund which the Jesuits left behind which I assume the community will no longer be able to benefit from. It means that the community will now have to start over again. The church and presbytery at St Chads is in a terrible state, and the congregation is small and poor. It is going to take a lot of financial support to get the community going and able to stand on its own feet. If it was considered such a suitable church for a religious community then why didn't the Norbertines stay? I just hope this wasn't a underhand way of getting them out of the diocese.

Anonymous said...

Will be interesting to see if the snobs from south Manchester will follow the community to the impoverished north-east part of the city. The church is certainly not as spectacular as the Holy Name. The bishop's letter which was published on the diocesan website today makes it clear that this is just the first stage in securing the future of the Oratorians. It is going to take a lot of courage and money to make that a reality.

Anonymous said...

The Holy Name's website suggests that it has the Bishop's approval but the Salford Diocesan is much more about a hope, at the same time being at pains to paint a positive view of the Jesuits who are returning . The present Holy Name community are thanked for hearing confessions everyday nothing else , not the standard of music , reverence and the number of different types of vocation fostered there , isn't the phrase damning with faint praise?

Anonymous said...

It seems that the future Oratorians had no choice but to move if they wanted their community to be canonically erected. The bishop made it clear that he would not give his votum as they did not own the house or the church, yet he could have given the house to the community, or even allowed them to have bought it. I am sure the Jesuits would have handed over the church - after all they were happy to consider it becoming a library for the University, or even a McDonalds 20 years ago.
I can't see that many will want to follow the community to a deprived part of Manchester. Many will be concerned about the security of their car whilst at Mass. The Holy Name with its Organ, and choir (many recruited from the university) was the perfect setting for their apostolate. I am sure that the hope from the diocese is that it will now just wither on the vine now that it is at the periphery of diocesan life.

Anonymous said...

Best not to discuss the Norbertines, who abandoned their basilica, St. Chad's and the north of England.

Sixupman said...

What snobs, "Anonymous"?

As a regular attender at the Sunday TLM, I just witness ordinary folk.

I believe the move will be a tragedy for both The Holy Name and the student population. The Jesuits have scant regard for the Papacy and what BXVI teaches, sons not of Aquinus, but indeed, of Martini!

Fr. Matus and his compatriots will continue to have myb support in their new home.

Anonymous said...

You can't deny that some of the Cheshire set attend the Holy Name because of the kudos attached to the place. Wasn't it always referred to as the 'Farm Street of the North'. Indeed, even Roberto Mancini was spotted there not so long ago.
Cheetham Hill is quite the opposite. However, there is a large Lithuanian population within the parish, and a Lithuanian priest in residence. I even think that Fr Matus has Luthuanian heritage so it may work out to be a good fit.

Sixupman said...

I did not notice any "Cheshire Set" at any of the well attended early morning and evening Masses which I have attended, nor at the TLMs. Will the Jesuits be providing the range of opportunity presently available at The Holy Name?

Throughout the day, you will find people slipping-in for a moment of prayer and contemplation, as also Mancini prior to home games.

I am not a Mancunian, being from the wasteland of Carlisle, but my attendance, at The Holy Name, goes back all of sixty years. Sunday Masses in those days catered for the whole spectrum of Catholicism, including a high contingent of Irish labourers - many of whom I worked with. I remember there was a confessional "for clergy only", do the Jesuits even believe in Confession?

Anonymous, I am unable to comprehend the world in which you are living.

Anonymous said...

I am at a loss over this 'move' as St Chad'sisnt even a sympathetic building for the Oratorians to use - it looks more like a routine CofE gothic place. The Jesuits are not likely to maintain the wonderful traditions of The Holy Name as established by Fr Matus & I suspect a lot of the Sunday congregation will move with him. The students will simply be abandoned to the whims of ageing SJ's.
I wonder if His Lordship has been motivated by the probable canonisation of Elizabeth Prout? It would be highly embarassing if her church was to remain an almost abandoned wreck, at least the Oratorians will make it a living church again to welcome some of her relics.

Sixupman said...

Unfortunately there has been a plethora of "anonymous" comments, one of which has a blatantly snide approach to the situation - a jealous clergyman perhaps.

Anonymous 240912, has raised one issue which His Lordship Bishop Brain has overlooked, the welfare of the student population - abandoned to God knows what nonsense.

I am told, by someone not at The Holy Name, that +Brain is prejudiced against The Oratory. It is clear that bishops will invoke Canon Law only when it suits their purpose and otherwise ignore it.

Anonymous said...

I am one of the apparently sneered upon residents of South Manchester who attends the Holy Name regularly. I confess to being ignorant of any prestige attaching to attending the church. I had no idea that I was mixing with the great and the good of the region, as everybody seems so ordinary. I attend as the income from my landed estate in Cheshire is too small to enable me to live in the luxury I desire without working full time in the city centre. I find that many priests do not seem familiar with the use of alarm clocks, perhaps seeing attendance at daily mass as something for the retired, and so the Holy Name is the only place that I can attend daily mass whilst working the 10 plus hours a day that is now pretty standard for so many of us. I think that Fr Ray and the community have done simply wonderful things over their 20 years to date in Manchester. I am also convinced that even better things are in store. God will bless Manchester greatly through their move to St Chad's, and I intend to do what I can to support them. I have had counselling before to see if I can become accustomed to polyester vestments and country and western style hymns, but all to no avail, as this is simply not concordant with the beauty and dignity of the liturgy. Services at St Chad's will be wonderful, and the local crime rate and prevailing social conditions (whatever they are) will not detract from this.


Anonymous said...

The Oratorians have done a wonderful job at the Holy Name. The liturgy is beautiful, the reverence they have for Our Lord in the Tabernacle is fantastic, every time the pass they genuflect and not a little nod of the head like most places these days. The devotions are wonderful and the Saturday night Exposition and Benediction beautiful or as my uncle put it "like Heaven on Earth".
I know they will do wonderful things at St.Chads, and bring true, orthodox Catholicism to the area, like they have at the Holy Name. I think it is just what the area needs this community of good and faithful priests and brothers, dedicated to Our Lord and His Church.

Sixupman said...

But what is to supplant that which is provided by Frs. Matus and Hilton, et al at The Holy Name? I await with trepidation as to that which might be inflicted upon the congregations and students.

Anonymous said...

In the late 1980s a friend of mine Mr Peter Wilson was on a university committee with the job of deciding whether the Holy Name should be bought from the SJs and if so whether it could be turned into a lecture theatre or a library. Due to the economic downturn and the plummet of profit prices the Society of Jesus withdrew the property from been on offer. They have merely waited twenty years. With a byilding restored by money on prime land its a great asset.
What will happen is that the present congregation will either follow to the Oratory or due to the modern liturgy go to their own parish churches. The 1600 Extrodinary Form of Mass will be discontinued at Holy Name. With a declining interest among students for religion and the church the congregation by 2022 will be small enough to guarantee the sale of the building.
As for St Chads one can only hope that works. We arent in 1992 now the people from the 30s,40s and 50s who remember the old church are elderly, dead or find it increasingly harder to get about. Cheetham hills a scary place. I dont fancy getting mugged going to Mass. A tradition of going somewhere is to be broken and in 2012 its difficult to get new practises going. My mates a priest for the Diocese of Salford. Getting rid of the Oratorians from Holy Name suits them to the ground. Disgrace. Ill be watching in years to come and it wont be pleasent.

Anonymous said...

They could always move to St.Chads, like I will be. And I travel from Heald Green!

Sixupman said...

It is interesting how bishops ignore or act upon Canon Law as suits their purpose or prejudice. I think that the bishop has little if any sympathy for The Holy Name, its clergy, or congregations. As the same highlights a vivid comparison of Catholicity with many of the churches within his Diocese.

The position is also redolent of St. Walburge's, Preston. An iconic church, without an effective parish, and a financial liability. The diocese toyed with the idea of selling it to the local university, but had to back down because of opposition. As I recall the LMS and a Traditional Order sought to acquire the property, placing the same in a charitable trust, the bishop rejected the proposal - no +Davies he. The reason espoused for such removal: 'a detrimental [read financial] effect on other parishes in Preston' - out of the mouths .... !

Anonymous said...

It is such a shame that Fr Ray and the community have to move to St Chad's. They have renovated the Holy Name from the crumbling edifice it was when the Jesuits left and turned into a magnificent house of prayer for so many of us in the city. The reality is they shamed the diocesan clergy through their success and this is payback time from the diocese. Goodness knows why the Jesuits want to take it on again. Within 10 years it probably will be a library for the university. The Jesuits will have sold it to raise money to keep the order going. So sad. But good wishes to the community at st Chad's. That part of the city is undergoing massive regeneration. Lots of new flats and the co-op. I am sure they with God's help reenvigoate st chad's and make it again a living house of prayer in the city.

Anonymous said...

I with my family attended a packed midnight mass at St.Chads and must confess the beautiful singing and the solemn dignity of the ceremony was as good as it was at the Holy Name.
The tragedy of the Brain is that he has never understood his dioscese his priests nor it's congregations. Look at what he did at St.Michaels Ancoats to the Italian community which is still battling to take back it's church! To Canon O Connor at St Augustines when he evicted him because the bishop wanted to sell the school buildings and the canon refused, never mind the shenanigans with the Bishops niece and his secretary who he married privately after the secretary deceided he was not cut out to be celebate!
Ok the church is not about historic buildings BUT the church should be about it's people and it's congregations.bringing back a religious order who abandoned the city 24 years ago because it wanted to renew itself within the confines of it's elite university house of Oxford displays the lack of Brains Mancunian touch! It's tantamount to saying Chelsea should be relocated to OldTrafford! The Jesuits do not see us Mancunians as anything more than plebs the Oratorians worked to display the majesty of the Catholic liturgy and its relegante to' us today.

Sixupman said...

Unfortunately I was not able to get to Midnight Mass at St. Chad's, but, as it happened, I did have available the Dawn Mass Celebrated by Msgr. Kevin O'Connor - whose ex-parishioners still call upon him.

+Brain appears to have given no thought for the welfare of the student body and also the others who availed themselves of the early morning Mass at The Holy Name.

The quality of worship at The Holy Name was exemplary, but must have had a twin effect on other parishes: i). contrast in quality of their respective liturgy; and, ii). a deleterious effect upon the parish collections. Clergy from other parishes could also be seen attending [not Concelebrating] Mass
at The Holy Name.

dd said...

I have been attending midnight mass at the holy name for many years, the best part of Christmas in my eyes, to feel part of a community with the clergy, in reverence celebrating the birth of Christ. oh what a dreadful let down this time, a shambles of a service conducted without any feeling of respect, the trainers being worn by the bored servers summed it up. By the time the mass was nearly over I left the church, which was by this time half empty. I did not have the feeling of joy and peace which I had always felt on leaving the Holy Name. I will not be returning there but I will follow to St Chads the community who restored my faith.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately the link to the Church of the Holy Name's website is not working.

Sixupman said...

Presumably the Jesuits do not wish to pay the cost of provision thereof - why would they wish to publicise that magnificent church?

Unknown said...

I have read trough this correspondence with great sadness. I regularly attended The Holy Name and am now a regular attender at St. Chad's. I feel that Bishop Brain, in common with all Bishops, was faced with making a difficult decision and one which I am sure he knew would displease some.

I thank God for the decision the Bishop made - the students need a vibrant chaplaincy. I also believe that Manchester needs the spiritual gifts that an Oratory brings.

I feel that some of the comments made in this discussion are scandalous in the true sense of that word, and the writers should be ashamed of themselves. As Catholics we should be praying for the success of the mission of the Jesuit community at the Holy Name; the success of the mission of the community of the Oratory at St. Chad's and above all we should be praying for our Bishop.

Sixupman said...

Paul Baker,

Is it being suggested that the MU Chaplaincy was defective in some way?

Certainly there was a good student attendance at Holy Name Masses - including the weekly TLM.

Further the early morning Mass appears to have been abandoned - which had a very good attendance.

The proof of the pudding ....... and I await to see whether the Jesuits are able to produce the high quality of liturgy of that which Frs. Matus and Hilton achieved.

Anonymous said...

As Paul Baker said, please be Christian and Charitable in your comments and allow time for these two new ventures to find their feet in their new homes and pray for their success. The new website for the Holy Name is being developed, the initial page is at - the new website for St Chad's is

Unknown said...

I was not being critical of the chaplaincy in the past - on the contrary it was successful. We need to bear in mind that with MMU selling off its outlying campuses and concentrating its students in Oxford Road, and with the expansion of the Royal Northern College of Music, Oxford Road becomes one of the most concentrated areas of students in Europe. This will make challenging demands on the chaplaincy - and I reiterate we must pray for its success.

I also feel that the Mass is too important to us to be considered in terms of quality.

Sixupman said...

Church or Concert Venue the dichotomy of thought twixt Jesuits and Oratory.

[Concerts: 25th. January and 5th. February]

Frs. Matus and Hilton resisted the blandishments, presumably of cash, for affording such facility. Clearly the Jesuits have been quick of the mark.

Whilst not a Mancunian by birth, my association with The Holy Name goes back 60 years. I decided to retire to Manchester for several reasons, inter alia,The Holy Name; The Library; [now both unavailable]and the people.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry to hear that Fr Ray and the community have now moved on from the Holyname. The congretation were ordinary people.

I wish them every success at Cheetham Hill. I do not think anyone should judge the bishop, they have an unenviable and difficult task to keep all the plates spinning.

Perhaps not the place for such, but if anyone could tell me the sacrament and mass times for St Chads, I would appreciate. It has yet to find its way onto the oratory website, I shall certainly visit there.

Sixupman said...



You encapsulate the position at The Holy Name beautifully "The congregation were ordinary people.".

Anonymous said...

I do not live in or near Manchester but I have been to the Holy Name Church in Oxford Road on many occasions and was impressed by each Mass I've attended there as well as the beautiful building.

Surely, the Diocese would never sell off the Holy Name as some people are suggesting on here? I've always seen it as the 'Westminster Cathedral' of Manchester.

Sixupman said...

The Holy Name is not a 'Diocesan church, but is inn the ownership of the Jesuits - which is the reason the bishop would not/could not allow an Oratory to be formally established there.

It was the Jesuit congregation twenty years ago, or so, who wish to sell the church. The presbytery and church hall were sold.

The Jesuits have handed-over their Strawberry Hill church [W. London] to the local diocese and are moving out. Question: why is The Holy Name different, could that not have been
handed-over to Salford Diocese?

ccp said...

I am a student - and attend Mass at Holy Name regularly. I do not feel - as some have suggested - 'abandoned' but instead find the Holy Name to be a place of sanctuary and peace, with the Jesuits being prayerful and learned, often giving thoughtful and meaningful homilies. There is now adoration every day (which didn't happen before) and daily mass and confessions still continue, along with Saturday adoration, and a second daily mass is also given in the Chaplaincy. Perhaps once the Jesuits lost hope in Manchester, but by God's grace they have returned with a mission, and the Holy Name will always be, I am sure, a temple for the Glory of God.

A Manchester student said...

I am another student and I was upset to read the sneering comments about 'ageing SJs' that have been left above. I miss the Oratorian fathers, and I will always be grateful for what they gave us at Holy Name. But I was equally grateful for the arrival of Fr Tim at the chaplaincy. He is a wonderful priest to have, a very good confessor, and he and the other Jesuits are looking after us well - you needn't shake your heads over the fate of us poor students. It should be possible to express appreciation for Fr Matus without disparaging those who have come after him. Several comments above are just plain gossipy, hardly orthodox.

A holy Lent to all.

Sixupman said...

Manchester Student(s):

The Jesuits at The Holy name will have to earn the confidence of the wider Catholic population, after all, it was they that placed pecuniary gain before the good of the Manchester Catholic Community. But for the, then, state of the property market, The Holy Name would now be a conference centre and this argument would not be taking place.

But there is now a wider point. whilst The Holy Name was not a parish church, it was possessed of a good wider following and congregation mix. It would appear that the concentration is to be as a chaplaincy base, thereby disenfranchising a large part of that 'congregation mix'.

I am not privy to that which brought the Jesuits back to The Holy Name, but the deft use of Canon Law, by the Bishop, has solved a problem for him - the retention of a barely viable church, St. Chad's. Thankfully, His Lordship's iconoclasts have been kept away from St. Chad's, albeit they have been very busy elsewhere in the Diocese.

Time will tell.

Anonymous said...

It is important to understand that the Jesuits always owned the building and requested its return for their use.

Sixupman said...

Jesuits appear to be very fickle and somewhat selfish.

What is to stop them attempting to sell it again?

Anonymous said...

I was praying for the return of the Jesuits to work among our large student opoulation. We know they left after a fall in their manpower and reorganisation was necessary. Most of us Mancunions would have given our mission here a higher priority, but they didn't. We got over it ,but the Holy Spirit gave us Fr Ray and the boys, and weren't we lucky.
I often also prayed for St Chads as. I drove past it frequently. being our mother church I was sorrowed at its disrepair. So many people in the new housing and such poverty at its side. I also prayed that the oratory would be based at the Hidden Gem when it was established permanently, being the obvious place. But look at the way the Holy Spirit works. He loves our poor of Cheetham hill so much he sends such talented workers.... And the story of the love of God at work in Manchester is retold. God bless +Brain and the Jesuits and the Oratorians for their humble actions human actions. Lets cut the snipe.

Sixupman said...

A proliferation of 'Anonymi', who are they all, at least my identity is traceable. Are they one, or several, it is very confusing. The Wardley Hall public relations machine in action perhaps and a guilty conscience.

What form of Catholicism is to be disseminated to the student body, as opposed to the orthodox Catholicism previously? Mundabor, in his usual fashion, is currently running-rule-over Jesuit thinking and most illuminating it is. I would also refer the 'anonymi' to the Light of Law Blog where Dr. Peters examines the SJ position on those contradicting Church teaching having access to Communion - the view of the Jesuit being that the majority of the hierarchy are pretty laid back over the abuse.

Perhaps, instead of the 'anonymi' we might have an identifiable Jesuit explain the ethos they have in mind for The Holy Name, instead of sending 'message boys'

Anonymous said...

The Oxford Oratory is based at St Aloysius, a former Jesuit church. The Oratory have done wonders with this church, which was badly treated by the Jesuits (who destroyed many of the sacred relics). The Oratory should have been encouraged to stay at the Holy Name - they have been shabbily treated. St Chad's merits renewal but it is a poor substitute for Manchester's leading RC church.

Sixupman said...

A recent visit to The Holy Name left me bereft. The church now feels 'empty' and underused. The return of the 'Table' another dispiriting sign.

The Holy Name "Old Mass" was very well attended - as with all the other Masses - the students hearing the "Old Mass" have not transferred to St. Chad's, creating a double loss.