In March 2012, work started on the new accommodation block behind the existing parish centre.
When it is finished, it will contain a new parish office, kitchen and bar (read about them on the parish rooms page). The upper floors will provide 5 new bedrooms.
At least one of the rooms will be inhabited as soon as work is finished — one of the fathers is currently living in a room that was never intended to be a bedroom, and it is really far too small.
And the rest? We have young men who want to join our community and nowhere to put them! With the new building, we will have 5 extra bedrooms. As well as allowing us to accept and train novices (new members of the community), we will be able to take students from Oratories overseas who want to study at Blackfriars. Outside of term time, the spare rooms can be used for guests.
One of the new bedrooms has a disabled bathroom, which means that if one of the older fathers eventually needs it, he won't have to move into a care home. We'll let a novice have his old bedroom.
Below is a link to the architect's plan of the first floor of the accommodation block (click on it to see a larger version). The rooms are labelled nidos, which comes from the Italian word for ‘nest’ — an Oratorian is supposed to have a room in which he can ‘nest’ for life because he (usually) does not leave the house he first joins.
Some of you may wonder why we need so many rooms and so many priests. Firstly, because Oratorians do not move around, the fathers will all live in this house for the rest of their lives. That means there needs to be space for the next generations to live in, and for us to be constantly training new priests.
Secondly, there is simply a lot to be done here in Oxford, and the more priests we have, the more good we can do! What kind of work? Well, in our community,
- 3 teach RE at our primary school, St Aloysius'
- 1 teaches RE at St Philip's School, London
- 1 is the National Ecumenical Officer to the National Bishops Conference
- 1 is a chaplain to Bullingdon Prison
- 1 is a chaplain to Campsfield House Immigration Detention Centre
- 1 is a chaplain at the John Radcliffe Hospital
All of the Fathers cover for priests at neighbouring parishes during holidays, times of illness and busy periods.
Most importantly, we run a busy parish, with almost 1000 attending Mass every Sunday. Having enough priests means that we can provide three Masses and three slots for confessions on weekdays, and five Sunday Masses with confessions before each.