Birmingham Civic Honours For Cardinal Hinsley
ON MONDAY AND TUESDAY, ST. MARY'S COLLEGE, OSCOTT, SEMINARY FOR THE ARCHDIOCESE OF BIRMINGHAM, CELEBRATED ITS CENTENARY.
The Papal flag flew from the College tower, and bunting decorated the lodges, as hundreds of guests, lay and clerical, headed by Cardinal Hinsley, Archbishop of Westminster, arrived on the Sunday. Some thirty of the students camped in the grounds to provide accommodation for guests inside the College.
The celebrations included two Solemn High Masses, a stirring sermon by the Cardinal, entertainments by the students, and a civic reception to the Cardinal by the Lord Mayor of Birmingham.
The Cardinal, proposing the toast of Alma Mater at the dinner on Monday, said the greatest blow Oscott ever sustained was when it was suppressed as a boys' school. The result was that the training of the laity went to the religious orders, and there was not now the same intimacy between parish clergy and their flocks as formerly.
The Cardinal also said that Oscott, as a central seminary, was the beginning of a possible English ecclesiastical University.
IIUNDRED YEARS OF LIFE
On May 29, 1838, the Chapel of St. Mary's College, Oscott, was solemnly consecrated. Two months later the students entered into residence under the presidency of Dr. Weedall, and so began the history of that new College the centenary celebrations of which have been taking place during the present week.
On Sunday evening the Cardinal-Archbishop arrived at the College from Walsingham, where he had been present at the National Youth Pilgrimage. During the afternoon guests arrived from many parts of England and Wales.
Dinner at 7.30 was served in a marquee erected in the quadrangle, none of the college dining halls being sufficiently large to accommodate the guests. After dinner the assembly adjourned to the Northcote Hall, where the students presented an entertainment.
The celebrations proper began on Monday morning, when the Bishop of Sebastopolis celebrated Pontifical High Mass coram Cardinali. It was fitting that Mgr. Dey, Bishop of Sebastopolis, should be celebrant at this, the major function. He was a boy at Oscott when it was a public school, returning later to the seminary to pursue his
philosophical and theological studies. In 1929 he became Rector, and occupied that position until 1935, when he was consecrated Bishop by Cardinal (then Archbishop) Hinsley in the college chapel.
And so for the second time Cardinal and Bishop are the central figures in a grand ecclesiastical ceremony in the Oscott sanctuary.
The scene was vividly reminiscent of that other scene, one hundred years ago, when Catholic England thrilled at the magnificent ceremonial carried out with all the splendour of the ritual for the first time since the Reformation; a scene which brought tears to the eyes of Pugin, who had done so much to prepare for that day.
Now as then the chapel glowed with colour. The walls of Pugin's sanctuary were rich in red and gold, the newlydecorated roof shone in a glory of blue and green and gold, and the magnificent carved Stations of the Cross—a centenary gift from the Archbishop of Birmingham— stood out in sharply defined contrast against the cream walls.
To the accompanying peals of the organ, the first procession—of clergy secular and regular—entered at 10.20. At the rear walked the mitred and vested celebrant with his attendant ministers.
The next procession was that of the Archbishop of Birmingham and the members of the Metropolitan Chapter who received the Cardinal Archbishop at the North door. Then, followed by Bishops, Abbots and Prelates, and preceded by the Bishop of Birmingham and the Canons, England's Prince of the Church, in flowing scarlet, made his way with slow and stately step to the throne prepared in the sanctuary.
The black and white of the clergy's choir dress, the purple of the Bishops' and Monsignori, the scarlet of the Cardinal, the flashing jewels of pectoral cross and ring and mitre—all served to enshrine the holy rite which now began.
Day after day for 100 years the Mass had been offered at this altar; only another Mass could suffice as a thank-offering for all the graces poured out on souls within this chapel.
After the gospel the ceremonies were interrupted whilst the Cardinal preached the centenary sermon.
Thereafter the Mass moved with stately dignity to its close. The last blessing was intoned, the indulgence published, and Cardinal, Bishop, Abbots, Prelates and Canons and clergy moved out in long procession.
Dinner was served at 12.45 in the marquee.
The Archbishop of Birmingham presided at Pontifical Vespers in the evening, after which a Te Deum was sung during Benediction in thanksgiving for all the blessings of the last 100 years.
After supper another entertainment was given in the Northcote Hall.
On Tuesday morning the newlyconsecrated Bishop of Abya pontificated at High Mass coram Cardinali, when the magnificent scene of the previous day was enacted.
Before dinner the general meeting of the
The Cardinal was given a civic reception in the Birmingham Council House on Monday.
Such visits to Birmingham, Alderman Canning, the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, said, were comparatively infrequent. The year 1838 must have been a remarkable year in the history of England. It was a few years after the great Reform Bill, the year in which Queen Victoria was crowned, the year of the opening of the railways between London and Birmingham and Liverpool and Birmingham, the year of the granting of the Charter to Birmingham and the year of the foundation of Oscott College.
Cardinal Hinsley, _ thanking the Lord Mayor, said he was particularly grateful to those who had made this visit, his third to Birmingham, so pleasant.
He was specially grateful to the Lord Mayor and other members of the municipality, particularly to the Education Committee, for the generous way they had dealt with the question of Catholic schools.
" I may appear to be sounding the praises of my own flock and my own people, but we arc really showing our appreciation of the broadmindedness and brotherliness of the Birmingham municipal authorities through the century that has passed. Catholics have been able to make the city a home where so many of their activities can flourish. It is not always true in the world to-day that Governments give freedom and encouragement to minorities."
Oscotian Society was held in the College. Dinner was served at 1.30 and in the evening there was Compline, Te Deum, and Benediction.
The festivities concluded with another entertainment in the evening.
On Wednesday morning the remaining guests left the College and the students began their summer holidays, one party of professors and students making the second annual Oscott Pilgrimage to Our Lady of Walsingham.
Sermon by Cardinal
At the Solemn High Mass on Monday, Cardinal Hinsley, Archbishop of Westminster, himself preached the sermon on the text " But God gave the increase" (1 Cor. iii, 6).
" The celebration of the 100th anniversary of St. Mary's College, New Oscott, is an occasion for heartfelt thanksgiving and of joy to the Catholics of all England," the Cardinal said.
" In this hallowed spot. in this chapel consecrated just a century ago, was focussed, if I may say so, the activity of generations of our forefathers in the Faith .
" In the critical times at the end of the sixteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth, God raised up chosen servants to fight—and to fight successfully--for our liberties, to save us from schism and from
subservience to political caprice. It was God's merciful Will which guided the Bishops of the Midlands and the Presidents of Oscott through struggles and trials till their labours Were crowned by the glorious results for which we glorify Him now .
" The origins and the spirit of Oscott are to be traced, as those of our Colleges of Ushaw, Old Hall, Stonyhurst, to the heroism of the seminary priests who returned from Douai or from the Venerable English College, Rome, or from Lisbon and Valladolid to give their labours and their lives in defence of Christian unity and for the character of the Christian priesthood. The walls of our old colleges may be said to be cemented with the blood of our English Martyrs .
Three streams of Catholic life united here. First and foremost, the sturdy loyalty of the born Catholics, with their characteristic unemotional solid piety—the centuries-old rooted Catholic life—made Oscott the centre which it became in the nineteenth century. Wiseman came from the Venerabile to be President in 1840, bringing a fresh tide of loyalty to Rome . . But always it was the determined loyalty to the Church of the Catholic yeoman and of the Catholic poor, and of the artisans of Wolverhampton—in short. the sturdy Catholic spirit of the people of the Midlands—which gave Oscott its strength and its vocations. And after Milner, Ullathorne came to carry on the staunch, if rugged, leadership of the old Catholic tradition . .
"Two revolutions shaped the destinies of our Catholic Colleges—that of the sixteenth century which drove English youth to seek education abroad. and that of the eighteenth century, the French Revolution. The horizon of this twentieth century is black with clouds that threaten to burst in a storm of disaster. The happenings in other countries lead us to dread some violent upheaval even in our own peaceful land . .
" The same mind must be in us as in the missionaries and the martyrs of this and other lands, the martyrs and missionaries of yesterday and of today...."