BY F. C. PRICE
WHEN the collection plate goes round the V churches of the Salford diocese on Sunday week parishioners will be left in no doubt as to why they are being asked to help find E150,000 for a new University Chaplaincy.
The old Georgian-fronted house, in Oxford Road, present home of the Manchester University Catholic Chaplaincy, will soon have disappeared to be replaced by a larger, modern building, designed specially to cater for the needs of the Chaplaincy.
Under the guidance of Fr. B. Winterborn, S.J., the Chaplaincy is the spiritual home of over 1,000 Catholic students during term time. It is the hub of the Catholic life of the University.
The present building, affected by dry rot and having a leaky roof, is inadequate even for today's needs and with further university extensions planned at Manchester the number of Catholic students is expected to increase to at least 2,000 within seven years.
First function of the Chaplaincy is to provide facilities for the spiritual life of the students. Midday Mass is offered every daytwice a week in the Holy Name church and three days a week in the Chaplaincy. As the average daily attendance is over 80, and the chapel accommodates only 50 -even packed to capacity-it means that some have to kneel in an adjacent discussion room and on the landing, out of sight of the altar and most of the chapel.
Such attendances, under such conditions, says much for the vigour of the spiritual life of the students, especially as many will be at lectures when Mass is said. Each day between 50 and 60 receive Holy Communion.
Confessions are heard and the chapel is always available for private prayer. But the Chaplaincy does much more than enable the young student to carry out his religious duties.
Through lectures and discussions it aims to continue religious education from where it left off in the sixth form. Most of these young people are leaving the shelter of Catholic homes and schools for the first time. They meet people antagonistic or lukewarm to the Faith and come face to face with difficult problems for the first time.
This is where they need the services of the Chaplain and some idea of the scope of this problem may be gauged from the fact that Fr. Winterborn receives over 40 personal callers every week, although not all have difficulties.
During the first term Fr. Winterborn tries to arrange two departmental meetings which enable the freshers to meet fellow Catholics studying the same subject, and members of the staff.
Cutting across these groups, and so enabling students from various faculties to mix, are various other group activities. One is engaged in studying F. J. Sheed's "Theology and Sanity". another "The Social Teaching 'of the Church", three groups meet to discuss "The Catholic View of University Life" and another three "Faith and Morals".
In addition there are five sodality cells, four Young Christian Students' groups, two LookListen groups, a Mass-serving class, a Church Music group and a Jazz Club.
The Chaplain encourages all these activities because they lead to a greater understanding. greater contact between students and allow many to continue in those branches of the lay apostolate with which they were previously associated.
Every week the Catholic Society's meetings in the Union are addressed by prominent speakers on such varied topics as "Catholic Education", "In Defence of the Flesh", "The Eastern Churches", and "The Effects of Nuclear Weapons".
As many as 200 attend the Chaplaincy on Sunday eveningsusually a dead time in provincial university life.. Mass is said in the Holy Name church at 5.45 and every week a well-known preacher preaches.
Afterwards they adjourn to the Chaplaincy for various social activities including dancing, table tennis, music and coffee. counteracting any sense of loneliness and isolation.
The Chaplain also tries to make occasional visits to the students in the lodgings or halls of residence. Often he has to find accommodation, always trying to put them into contact with other Catholic students in the neighbourhood. Parents anxious about the welfare of their sons or daughters often contact him.
Fr. Winterborn still finds time to instruct converts and to discuss the Faith with interested nonCatholics.
There are outside activities. too. Last summer he took a party of students to a rented house at Barmouth for a peripatetic retreat, some afterwards claiming that it was the best holiday they had ever had. This year he plans to take another party to Rome and Florence.