Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ushaw College again

Today it was announced that the conference centre side of Ushaw will close on December 31st. The seminary will stay open until June 2011. I wonder what happened to the business proposals to take over the running of the conference centre among which was one organised by Paul Waddington, the LMS treasurer (although this was not an initiative of the LMS itself)? So what fate awaits the buildings at Ushaw? I hope it is a happier one than that of the former seminary at Upholland which seems to be falling into ruin.
Further thoughts on the matter can be found on Joseph Shaw`s LMS chairman`s blog. Ironically the lead story of this month`s Northern Cross is the rise in the number of seminarians in England and Wales. (The last story, tucked away on the very last page, is that of the Extraordinary Form Mass at the cathedral and of all the photos they were sent they (extraordinarily) chose not to print one of the Mass itself but a group photo of the altar servers instead. Maybe a picture of the Mass would be more than NC readers could bear.)


1569 Rising said...

Why am I not surprised?

The Conference Centre was doing good business, or so we were told. The problem was the Seminary, or so we were told. The Centre was told only a month ago to continue accepting bookings for 2011, or so we were told. The Governors told us that they hoped a business plan could be put in place to save the seminary, a plan that would, of course, depend upon the "success" of the Conference Centre. As recently as October, they still held out a hope for the whole site. Or so we were told.

However, a business plan was being put into place by Traditionalists, which could have saved the Seminary, a magnificent monument to 200 years of Northern Catholicism, a place built and supported by the "pennies of the poor". That is what put the final nail in the coffin. Anyone in the North who still had any illusions about the motives of the Bishops will have their illusions well and truly shattered.

Can anyone tell me why I should not feel anything but disgust at the way our "Shepherds" have handled this whole disgraceful episode?

TERRY MIDDLETON Ushaw 1958 - 1963

Fr Simon Henry said...

Not just at Upholland - no-one seems to know what has happened to it now that it has been sold - but also at the Junior Seminary attatched to Ushaw. See an old post of mine at: http://offerimustibidomine.blogspot.com/2010_07_01_archive.html

I fear that this will be the fate of the Senior Seminary as well.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Thanks Father, good to hear from you. I had a post about the Junior Seminary on 17th July http://forestmurmurs.blogspot.com/2010/07/ushaw-decays.html
A tragedy but maybe a consequence of the hermeneutic of rupture?

Et Expecto said...

When the proposed closure of Ushaw College was announced in early October, I was keen to see what might be done to save the buildings for an appropriate use. It so happened that I had an appointment to meet Bishop Drainey on 12th October, and, since he is both a former president of Ushaw and one of the present trustees, I decided to raise the matter with him. He assured me that in the present circumstances, any sensible proposal would be considered. He said that he was personally particularly anxious to save the library and St Cuthbert's Chapel. He also advised me to get in touch with the current President, Mgr Marsland.

I immediately wrote to Mgr Marsland with the outlines of a proposal. Basically this was for the conference and related activities to be expanded so that there was sufficient income to cover the running costs. Thereafter, I suggested that a seminary run on more traditional lines could be a viable proposition. I also indicated that funds could be found for the investment necessary to to do this.

In response I was contacted by the Finance Director, and a meeting was arranged. I was shown a set of accounts, which confirmed my view that such a plan was viable. I also met the Estate Manager and Mgr Marsland, who listened to the proposal. His response was to say that it was a matter for the bishops.

Somewhat encouraged, I waited for a more formal reply. After a couple of weeks, I decided to write more formally to Archbishop Kelly, the chairman of the trustees. This resulted in an e-mail from the Finance Director at Ushaw stating that a steering group had been set up to consider futute possibilities for the whole estate. The group consists of bishops, professional advisors and stakeholderslike English heritage and Durham County Council.

The next that I heard was yesterday's news that all conference activities will end at the end of December.

This seems very odd to me because it is the conference activities that bring in outside revenue. Why stop the revenue flow six months before the seminary closes? Also, the damage to the goodwill caused by the cancellation of so many bookings makes any rescue plan less likely to succeed.

So what do we do now? I would welcome suggestions.

The Trad Troll said...

I must refrain from joining in any discussion about the future or otherwise of Ushaw since I have no personal experience or rose tinted memories of life there. However, regarding Northern Cross coverage cf the recent EF Mass at the cathedral and the situation of the photograph (tucked away at the back) I was not really surprised. Those of us who remember the EF form as being the norm for Mass and remained devoted to it are at an advantage over the Northern Cross editor who, as an Anglican, cannot be expected to understand our feelings for it and desire for a greater awareness of its place in the Church.Indeed, I recall an edition of the Northern Cross a year or so ago which carried a number of letters for and against the 'restoration' of the Old Mass (as I still call it) and the following issue, on the front page, reporting with what I thought was unseemly glee: 'The Tridentine Mass: the debate continues!' (or words similar to those), the editor obviously unaware that Pope Benedict's Moto Propio, while not forbidding people to express an opinion, made it quite clear that the Old Mass forms a legitimate part of the Catholic Church's liturgy.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Thanks Paul for telling us what has been happening. Maybe the steering group is still going to decide something. It does seem odd to close the conference centre so much earlier than the seminary with the results you mention.I don`t know what to think.

Giorgio Roversi said...

As 1569 Rising rightly says, the place was built and supported by the "pennies of the poor".
What needs to be made clear to the Bishops is that the faithful will not tolerate to see the buildings left to rot or transformed into a hotel (my Italian blood is already boiling at the thought!).
The buildings are and have to remain a place for Catholic worship and education.
If the Bishops have a different plan they can expect some serious opposition.

The Trad Troll said...

May I ask Giorgio Roversi re his statement: 'If the Bishops have a different plan they can expect some serious opposition.' From whom?

Giorgio Roversi said...

Trad Troll,there are many initiatives that can be taken, suggestions are welcomed. Perhaps an on-line petition or even a sit-in protest can be organised.
It is something I don't particularly like, but I like even less the prospect of Ushaw ending up like Mount St Mary church in Leeds.

Anonymous said...

I think any mention of a steering group needs to be taken with a pitch of salt based on the recent announcement. I would be as bold to say that it sounds more like a smoke screen to avoid Paul's questioning to his plans.

I get the distinct impression that the fate of USHAW was decided quite some time ago and with definate hidden agendas. Agenda's that only the Bishops should benifit.

I sound's like Pauls plans were not even seriously considered which is more so annoying if they were to be finanically benifically.

This whole fiasco has serious sickend me. More so to think that also peoples livlyhoods are serious at stake due to these neglegent decisions. Hard working honest members of the community. What kind of message is that sending out to the parishes.

Peter Hope

Anonymous said...

Here, here Peter. Naturally many of the discussions centre on the religious history of the building but I am more than a little dismayed with with the lack of thought being given over to the those members of staff who have worked incredibly hard to keep Ushaw ticking over for precious little money. Imagine how they must have felt during these hard times of recession, particularly with Christmas just around the corner, when they were told at the start of December that they no longer have a job. Many of these people struggled to survive on their wages when they worked at Ushaw, how must they be feeling now?

Anonymous said...

The fate of Ushaw has seemed inevitable for years.
Its a total tragedy which hopefully still may have a satisfactory ending.
A sorry sad affair that even you would find it impossible to be even the slightest bit optomistic about.
A rarity because yours is one of the first Traditional English blogs that I go to if I want a positive view on the day to day affairs of the Church.
I find this the most joyous, hopeful era for anyone who desperately seeks a 'reform of the reform'. However increasingly there seems to be an air of despair or even lack of thought in some traditional blogs. To illustrate my point I draw your attention to a posting on 'Catholic Gossip' this afternoon. Quite worrying.
Thankfully many American and European websites seem to mirror your usual upbeat enthusiasm.
A huge thank you, however I'm very aware that the fate of Ushaw at this moment seems to defy any form of optimism whatsoever.
However let me share an upbeat story with you father. I'm privledged to be able to go to Mass every Sunday at the Holy Name church in Manchester.A very traditional parish where the reform of the reform is fully implemented. Every Sunday we expect the church to be full but tonight I had the opportunity to go to evening Mass, a normal mid week Mass, when I went up to Holy Communion every person at the altar rails appeared to be young, attractive and under thirty!
Now thats what we need.

robertatforsythe said...

I have signed the petition and blogged here http://robertatforsythe.blogspot.com/2010/12/ushaw-college.html . But let me say (controversially) Ushaw is far too large to simply become a Traditionalist centre. It may well be able to welcome those who love a particular form of worship but to go forward in this modern world I think it needs a pan-Christian response offering a new vision of how this marvellous community can serve a range of audiences and friends.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Thanks Manchester Anonymous for your generous comments. You are lucky in being able to go to a church like the Holy Name in Manchester.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Robert I take your point. I don`t think anyone is saying that Catholics trads could fill the plcae but it would be good if a place could be found for priestly training and for that to include passing on the knowledge of how to celebrate all forms of the Roman Rite, a provision which is yet to be realised in an English seminary.