Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Chaplaincy History part II: Reflections on the Early Years.

A second excerpt from the writings of E.A. Weldon on some of the life of the Chaplaincy in its first years:

Members of L.S.E..whom I have succeeded in contacting. must have been a lively group in the thirties: they speak with deep affection of Fr. Day, chaplain also to a convent whither he invited them to escape from the hurly-burly (so we then thought it!) of London. Dr. Mathew greatly valued this priest and was grateful for his continuance as chaplain till his death.

Evening meetings and lectures from a galaxy of distinguished lecturers. Catholic and Anglican, were eagerly attended: Chesterton, Belloc, Lord Russell of Killowen, Christopher Dawson, Prof. Edmund Gardner, Frs. G. Vann, Vincent McNabb and Hugh Pope. Mgr. Barnes, Maisie Ward. Dr. Laetitia Fairfield, Ernest Oldmeadow (of the Tablet), Douglas Woodruff (later its Editor also), Richard O’Sullivan (later Q.C.), Dr. Walter Seton (Secretary of U.C.L. and Anglo-Catholic authority on St. Francis) and Dr. R. W. Chambers are but a few.

These small societies rallied to Dr. F. A. Aveling, Reader in Psychology to the University and chaplain 1923-25. They had already experienced the encouragement of Fr. C. C. Martindale, SI. who had been working since the early twenties for the federation of such groups from all British universities. With increase in numbers graduate groups with different hours and more precise aims than the students, had been springing up—the London one (U.L. Graduate Section) in 1931. Miss A. Christich. B.A.Lond, claimed not only the distinction of being the first member of the Grad. Section, but also that of being the first woman journalist to report by plane!

Canon Tynan, Rector of St. John’s, Duncan Terrace, succeeded Dr. Aveling (as “locum tenens”) and an annual dinner established before the 1914-18 war fostered good relations with the university authorities, of which many distinguished members attended. In London, as elsewhere, it became more clearly apparent that our aims must be, not only to foster knowledge of the Faith in our own ranks, but to establish the value and quality of Catholic learning and scholarship in the academic world. This had obviously to be largely the work of the graduate laity in their professional fields, and the success achieved can be gauged by present-day interest in what Catholics have to say. The U.L. Grad. Section, to whom the Aquinas Society gave invaluable help, made the organisation of a series of annual Public University lectures from speakers of British or Continental reputation, one of their particular duties, and maintained it till after the second war.
Relations with Anglican Chaplains
Cordial clerical relations and mutual support in a common aim [were] strong in 1968, but must have existed long before, since the Rev. Leslie Simmons, M.A. (of 6 Margaret St., W.l) was interested in this branch of the Ministry as early as 1908. In “The Church in a secular university” (report of the Anglican Chaplaincy 1949-66) the work of the Rev. Cecil Clarke (Vicar of Christ Church. Woburn Square) is recorded, especially in the matter of establishing a centre. “His inspiration was undoubtedly the R.C. Chaplaincy which had begun in a house in Woburn Square before the war, under the leadership of Dr. Mathew and Fr. Vernon Johnson. It is odd to reflect that much friendly advice about how to set about the task of a Chaplaincy in a University like London, was received from Dr. Mathew, and was based on Roman Catholics’ experience in the University”.

By the late 1960's the Anglican Chaplain was a member of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Commission for R.C. relations, and there were joint conferences and discussions between London graduate groups and the William Temple Association. The Chaplains’ work was by then centred at the Church of Christ the King. Gordon Square, leased from the Catholic Apostolic Church. The happy relations between the two chaplaincies were developed and enhanced by Prebendary Gordon Phillips. the Senior Anglican Chaplain, who now in 1968 after thirteen years leaves London on his promotion to be Dean of Llandaff Cathedral
Coming soon...the War years.

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