On Michaelmas Day this autumn, it will be 450 years since William Cardinal Allen founded a College at Douai in the Flanders, staffed by refugee scholars from Oxford and dedicated to the training of priests for the English Mission. I imagine there will be celebrations to commemorate this signifant occasion; we who were the "First Wave" of former Anglican clergy destined to the Ordinariate met for fellowship, fine food, and lectures in the London seminary called Allen Hall, and remember our meetings there with immense pleasure. I hope this means that we count in some little way as part of the Family of Cardinal Allen, because the professors and students of the College he established at Douai were compelled, at the time of the French Revolution, to flee the Continent and, after vicissitudes, some of them ended up on the site of S Thomas More's Chelsea house ... fittingly now called Allen Hall. And I, for one, deemed and deem it an enormous privilege to be grafted into Cardinal Allen's heritage and to honour the Martyrs who are proudly named on the walls of the refectory.
However, some of the students from the Douai foundation, whose families were Northerners, ended up not near London but near Durham and founded a great seminary there called Ushaw. I expect many readers will have watched the black-and-white video of High Mass in the Chapel there in 1960. There were only 400 students in the congregation for that Mass, a couple of years before the Council. 400 is not much to write home about, is it? Just 400! What a mercy the great renewal promised by the Council was only just around the corner ...
Sixty or so years after that High Mass was filmed, Ushaw finally closed down, needless to say, for lack of vocations. And, within a decade of 1960, that Extraordinary Form of worship was forbidden (not legally but de facto; we had to wait for the pontificate of Benedict XVI to be told that, legally, the Rite had not been and, theologically, could not be abolished and that the violent discontinuities of the post-Conciliar period were illegal; 'Establishment' violence; vis sine lege; ambitious episcopal bully-boys roaming the world pillaging and destroying).
1960: by 1970 many of those 400 students had, probably, lost their sense of vocation; those who remained were seduced or cajoled or forced to celebrate a deformed form of the Rite. How many of them, I wonder, abandoned the Sacred Priesthood in the decades that followed. The Smoke of Satan entered into Ushaw to such powerful effect that it smoked the seminarians out of the place.
14 August 2018
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Dear Father, Far be it from me to carp, but I wonder what proportion of those 400 Ushaw alumni were ordinands, and what proportion schoolboys in the so-called junior seminary. I think those of us with Anglicanism in our blood would feel greater sympathy with the present practice of not accepting young men for formal training for the priesthood until they had acquired some experience of the Outside World, rather than the pre-Vatican 2 one of corralling them into an ecclesiastical hothouse at the age of 11 or 12. This certainly had a limiting effect on the development of those who after a dozen or more years in such an environment made it to ordination (would it be true to say that the present generation of diocesan priests tend to be more rounded individuals than their predecessors, whatever the deficiencies of their liturgical outlook?); it was also, by providing free boarding education for those who didn't, a questionable use of priestly personnel and diocesan finance. And I wonder what negative effects a junior seminary education may have had on the "rejects" -- not just their sense of having "failed" to get through to the natural objective of the seminary system, but having received a rather specialised sort of education perhaps being rather less well equipped than their state- or public-schooled contemporaries to cope with ordinary life. It would be interesting to know.
Ushaw, indeed, was a place "to die for". Saint Cuthbert's Chapel (designed by Pugin) takes the breath away.
Whilst attending a LMS Training Week, in The Extraordinary Form of Mass, for Priests and Servers, I met a Priest who was a Seminarian in 1964. He told me that 400 Seminarians used to pack Saint Cuthbert's Chapel, Ushaw, on a daily basis for Mass, Benediction, Vespers, Compline.
What a wonderful benefit to The Catholic Church, to Ushaw, and to The Faithful, the effects of Vatican II promised to achieve.
Does anybody know when these promised effects will start taking place ? It's been almost sixty years and, surely, the Spirit of Vatican II should have appeared by now !!!
Astonishingly, the seminary in Boston is now being investigated. Is it unreasonable to expect Cardinal Brady to have addressed these issues when first appointed? Obviously not. The same fear which gripped Cardinal Law persists. We have to give the obviously heterosexual Pope Francis much credit for the change in tone.
Correct me if I am wrong but I seem to remember that Ushaw refused to allow the Latin Mass Society to use their chapel on grounds along the lines that they were more concerned with the future than the past. Well who had the last laugh then? Except that it is not a laughing matter. Winsleyman
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