It is a humbling experience to be part of a University Chaplaincy Team. I am always amazed by the value of ‘presence’ among the Brunel University London community. I have recently had the great joy, together with the students, of building up its Catholic Society. It has required much generosity and great courage from the Catholic students to come on board. The CathSoc meets weekly and enjoys a rich programme of prayer, sacramental life, catechesis, retreats, pilgrimages and social events; the aim being to deepen their faith and prayer life. They are offered Spiritual Direction and Discernment about both their state in life and about their career.
All of this requires training, and here is the core of the Chaplain’s role of supporting, guiding, and reflecting with the students so they can become confident leaders in the Church. Such aspects of their formation can, I hope, prepare them to become active members of any parish they will live in subsequently.
Their enthusiasm, spontaneity and sheer naivety are sometimes very moving. To see them participate in a sound discussion, be of service with the Faith & Light Group in Hayes, visit the elderly sisters at Pield Heath, or hear primary school children at St Mary’s, Uxbridge, just deepens my faith and those they serve – that the Church has a wonderful body of new witnesses in its midst. My Brunel Chaplaincy colleagues have expressed their amazement at the commitment and faith from this group of young people.