I had a phone call during the week from a history teacher at the local comp. His class is studying the English Reformation and he thought it might be a useful exercise to bring them down to the local Catholic church to talk to the priest about pre-reformation England. I was delighted by this. Reading the papers I got the impression that the only history anyone studies at school nowadays is the Rise of the Nazis and the Fall of Apartheid so this was a pleasant revelation. They are coming down on Tuesday at 11. Later the same teacher rang back to ask if they could sit at the back for the 10am Mass. I had to explain that it might not give a very good impression of the medieval church thanks to a few reforms of Paul VI. Nonetheless they weren`t put off. The teacher tells me he is reading Eamon Duffy`s Stripping of the Altars at the minute. So I`m looking forward to the encounter.
At my own school, St Cuthbert`s Grammar in Newcastle, it was studying the Renaissance and Reformation at A level that really fired my interest in the faith. I can remember studying St Thomas Aquinas` five arguments for the existence of God in RE and also being made to listen to Jesus Christ Superstar but it was the history course that really engaged my interest.
BTW George Stephenson is the nearest we have in Forest Hall (or more precisely, West Moor) to a local hero as he lived here from 1804 to 1824 and built his first steam engine, The Blucher here. Dial Cottage was his home then and is marked as a place of historical interest although not open to the public.