Mgr Paul Grogan

Mgr Paul Grogan
Mgr Paul Grogan

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

A packed programme of events

We've just produced our term card for the Spring Term and, though I say so myself as shouldn't, there's plenty going on. Christian Unity Week will soon be upon us: as well as our annual service (led by Revd Jane de Gay, who is a senior English lecture here) we're going to have impromptu singing from a number of groups in the foyer, a Taize Service, a party for Christians only (or anybody who has ever thought of becoming one, or who is well disposed towards Christians) and, a litle later in the year, an "ecumenical train" down to the local Methodist Church to join in their Sunday morning worship.

Lent is always a big period in the Chaplaincy: the lunchtime Ash Wednesday Mass is invariably well attended. This year we will also have regular Stations of the Cross. These are great because they provide young people with an opportunity for an affective response to Christ, something which they have been deprived of due to the fall-off in pious practices in recent times. The Stations will take place in the chapel on some occasions, once in the corrdiors of the university and as Lent nears its end we are going to have a trip to the outdoor stations at Myddelton Grange in Ilkley, which are superb (see below). We are also going to have confessions for an hour every Wednesday evening to conform with a Year of Faith initiative in the diocese: it will be interesting to see how many students avail themselves of the Sacrament.

On the Friday before Education Sunday we will offer Education students and staff coffee and cakes. We thought of inviting them to a service but we opted for marking it in a fun way instead: I'll slip a prayer card to each person as I hand out the doughnuts. Then we'll be observing Holocaust Day by an exhibition and a special prayer station in the chapel.

We also do purely social stuff. For example we have a couple of six-mile walks planned (plus pub), ice-skating on the Leeds Millennium Square (plus pub), Les Miserables at the Imax cinema in Bradford (plus pub). Leeds Trinity very generously allows me to drive the 16-seater minibus - it's a Godsend.

A new departure this year is that we are going to address the issue of relationships directly around the time of Valentine's Day. (I keep forgetting when this is exactly, which I think is a good sign, all things considered) I thought of giving a talk entitled "Fr Paul on sex" but I thought that it might not pull them in. Instead, we are going to run a speed "getting to know" you session for young men and women. It'll be light-hearted and will include refreshments and a prize. Actually we might organise a barn dance as part of this. I used to love those when I was a student. You were never left alone wishing the ground would open up and swallow you and they involve lots of wholesome physicality! In additon we're going to have a few lunchtime sessions on "good relationships" led by a member of the Chaplaincy Team who has loads of experience as a counsellor. It's hard pushing against the massed forces of secularisation and many is the initiative which has failed, but there is nothing like the buzz of an event coming together, even when the numbers aren't great, and over a pint, or on the ice or after a period of worship a student begins to talk as he/she becomes suddenly aware of the reality of God.

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