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St.

Bede’s Hall, Oxford
Oxford, England
www.stbedeshall.org

Overview
For centuries, the world-renowned Oxford
University has been a model of higher educa-
tion. Many of America’s elite colleges mimic
its curriculum, its traditions, even its archi-
tecture. America’s best students distinguish
themselves as Rhodes Scholars to study at
Oxford.
But for Catholic students seeking the co-
herence and commitment to spiritual growth
that is found at a faithfully Catholic college
or university, even an Oxford University edu-
cation can be found lacking. One can look to quick facts
the 19th century writings of one of Oxford’s
Founded: 2009
greatest scholars, John Henry Cardinal New-
Type of institution: Very small liberal arts
man, for a thorough critique of the universi-
college for study abroad students
ty’s secular approach to liberal education. Setting: Urban
Fortunately, the new St. Bede’s Hall at Undergraduate enrollment: 50 (anticipated
Oxford offers Catholic students an opportuni- 2009-10)
ty to study in a thoroughly Catholic environ- Undergraduate cost: $38,000 (tuition, fees
ment inspired by Cardinal Newman’s classic and room for 2009–10)
work Idea of a University, even while partak- Undergraduate majors: n/a
ing of the rich intellectual life and resources
of Oxford University. Whether for a summer, Five Key Points
a semester or a full year or more, American
1. Catholic college in the historic city of
college students can study abroad in the city Oxford, England.
of Newman and hundreds of the world’s most
2. Rooted in the vision of John Henry
famous intellectuals.
Cardinal Newman.
Any student with an appreciation for
3. Classical Oxford tutorial experience of
history and the importance of European cul-
education with small classes.
ture and politics will recognize this as a spe-
4. Access to social, cultural and academ-
cial opportunity. But there’s more: St. Bede’s
ic activites of Oxford University.
is a faithfully Catholic institution in a society
that has greatly secularized, and it offers a 5. Emphasis on the history and culture of
England, with access to all of Europe.
rare opportunity for American Catholics to
partake in the new evangelization of Europe,

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St. Bede’s Hall

one of Pope Benedict XVI’s highest priorities. Governance
The college is affiliated with the Oxford
Oratory, which is responsible for the spiritual Fr. Sebastian Jones, a priest of the Birming-
life of the students. The Oratory is a com- ham Oratory, is chairman of the Board of
munity of seven priests founded in 1993 at Management of St. Bede’s Hall. The Board
the Church of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, which also includes the Archbishop of Birmingham
is the parish church for central Oxford. The (vacant since May 2009), Archbishop Vincent
community is part of the congregation estab- Nichols of Westminster, Dr. Penelope Cook-
lished in the 16th century by St. Philip Neri son (who is also provost of the college), Fr.
and maintains a close relationship to the first Tom Weinandy, O.F.M. Cap., and two other
English oratory in Birmingham, founded by academics.
Cardinal Newman. The Oratory Fathers are Father Jones leads the college, in a role
well-known for their high intellect and ortho- similar to the president of an American in-
doxy. stitution. He has several years of experience
Although the col- as chaplain and governor
lege’s leaders hope to of Catholics schools and
grant degrees sometime colleges, including the
in the future, St. Bede’s is famous Oratory School
currently focused on edu- at Birmingham. Fr. Jones
cating undergraduate stu- earned his licentiate de-
dents from overseas, with gree in canon law from
academic credit available. The Catholic University
The program is also suit- of America and remains
able for students who plan a member of the Canon
to continue their studies Law Society of America
at a British university. St. as well as its peer institu-
Bede’s is a new college, tion in the United King-
but many of the faculty dom. He is completing
are seasoned “tutors” at his doctoral dissertation
Oxford and were formerly with the Canon Law Fac-
associated with Greyfriars ulty of St. Pius X at the
Hall, the largest Catholic Studium Generale Mar-
college at Oxford which cianum in Venice.
was suddenly closed by Dr. Cookson, a Cath-
the Capuchin Friars in olic, has a substantial background in second-
2008. ary education at the senior management level.
An Oxford experience does not come She was formerly a fellow at Greyfriars Hall
cheaply: the flat rate for tuition and hous- and managed the college’s study abroad pro-
ing—not including meals, which are arranged gram.
separately through Oxford University or oth-
erwise—is $38,000 (U.S. dollars) in 2009-2010.
It is, however, one of the least expensive study Public Identity
abroad programs in Oxford or Cambridge,
according to St. Bede’s. Limited bursaries The first public act of St. Bede’s in May 2009
(grants) are available based on need. was solemn Benediction of the Blessed Sac-

306 The Newman Guide
St. Bede’s Hall

rament at the Church of St. Aloysius, where Located at St. Aloysius Church is a col-
Newman once preached and where St. Bede’s lection of relics, including a relic of St. Philip
students participate in Mass and the Sacra- Neri. A chapel is dedicated to the reportedly
ments. miraculous portrait of Mary, Mother of Mercy,
St. Bede’s Hall was approved by decree popularly known as “Our Lady of Oxford.”
of Archbishop Nichols as a “private asso-
ciation of Christ’s faithful” in March 2009,
following a review of the college’s constitu-
Academics
tion and statutes. In his decree, Archbishop
“St. Bede’s has become something of a flag-
Nichols stated that the college’s purpose is
ship in academic circles,” says Father Jones,
to assist the Universal Church in creating a
“as it is centered on the relationship between
culture where “the Christian outlook should
student and professor, both of whom have
acquire a public, stable and universal influ-
a responsibility to cooperate in the course
ence in the whole process of the promotion of
of their studies whether as tutorial or small
higher culture.”
classes.”
The college says that it was established
The college’s relationship with Oxford
to “perpetuate the work of higher education
University does not extend to classes, which
characterized by the
are independently
special tradition of
provided by St.
excellence that im-
Bede’s—alt hough
bued the ancient
several of the tutors
foundations of this
are currently teach-
City of Oxford”—a
ing or have taught
tradition “nowhere
at Oxford for many
more in evidence
years. Father Jones
than in the great
has worked to de-
flourishing and con-
velop a construc-
tribution of the reli-
tive relationship
gious orders of the
with the university,
13th century to the
while fully recog-
City of Oxford,” ac-
nizing the signifi-
cording to Father
cant differences in
Jones.
St. Bede’s approach to education: “Our vision
The college is centered around the Oxford
of education is focused on learning as part of
Oratory and St. Aloysius Church, the parish
our vocation to ‘know, love and serve God’
church for central Oxford that has played an
and not the delivering of a commodity with
important role for Catholic students since it
‘marketable target outcomes’ as set by recent
was consecrated in 1875. The parish is served
governments.”
by the Oratory, but for most of its history un-
The study abroad program at St. Bede’s
til the 1980s it was a Jesuit parish. Masses at
has no required courses, although a student’s
St. Aloysius have been celebrated by leading
home institution may arrange a particular
priest-intellectuals including Newman and
program with the provost of St. Bede’s that
the poet Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J., who
imposes course requirements. More than 25
converted from Anglicanism as a follower of
standard courses are planned in English (em-
Newman’s Oxford Movement.
phasizing British literature), history (again

The Newman Guide 307
St. Bede’s Hall

largely British), politics, Latin, canon law, the- credit, although it is actively pursuing such
ology and philosophy. an arrangement to begin as soon as possi-
The summer program offers additional ble. Students considering study at St. Bede’s
courses of special interest, ranging from stud- should consult with their home institution to
ies of the Royal Navy to the “Literature and ensure academic credit and plan an accept-
Architecture of Oxford” and “Painting in the able course of study.
Age of Revolution.”
As of August 2009, when this edition of
The Newman Guide went to print, St. Bede’s
Spiritual Life
had not yet established an ongoing relation-
Students have ample opportunity to become
ship with an American institution for college
involved in the spiritual life of the Oxford

Message from the President

Dear Parents and Prospective Students:

Many of us have vivid memories of our first day in school. That mo-
ment of terror and excitement when we felt the secure grip of our mother’s
hand being usurped by a teacher telling us how much we would like spend-
ing the day with all the new faces in front of us. If we were lucky the idea
of school was an adventure and we wanted to join in the high-spirits of the
other children.

That first day at school led to today. School should give us an appetite for living, making
friendships, pursuing hobbies and sports. These interests make us interesting people. College
life is another step. Don’t be timid! St. Bede’s Hall is a Catholic college in Oxford, England. We’ll
try our best to match your study goals with our excellent teaching staff. Study abroad is a crucial
element in schooling and an important feature on your future resume. At St. Bede’s Hall we are
committed to your education. We believe you should have a good reason not to take up the chal-
lenge to study in Oxford.

Whether England for you is the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Fish
and Chips, or Shakespeare, St. Thomas More, Cardinal Newman or Chesterton the opportunity
to studying at St. Bede’s Hall Oxford will broaden your experience and distinguish you among
your peers.

I look forward to welcoming you to St. Bede’s Hall.

Yours devotedly in Christ,

Fr. Sebastian Jones

308 The Newman Guide
St. Bede’s Hall

Oratory and St. Aloysius Parish, including hanged from the infamous “Tyburn Tree”),
Mass in the Ordinary and Extraordinary Walsingham (location of the historic Shrine of
Forms, confessions, the Rosary and seasonal Our Lady of Walsingham), the Tower of Lon-
devotions. The seven Oratorians are known don (where many were imprisoned and/or
among the students for their strong fidelity executed, including St. Thomas More), Little-
and reverent liturgy. more (where Cardinal Newman was received
The parish offers one vigil Mass and four into the Church) and the Birmingham Orato-
Masses (including one in the Extraordinary ry (which houses Cardinal Newman’s private
Form and a Solemn High Mass in the Ordi- library and chapel). The college is also consid-
nary Form) on Sundays, followed by Vespers ering longer trips to Lourdes and Rome.
and Benediction. There are three weekday All St. Bede’s students are automatically
Masses, with the Wednesday evening Mass enrolled as “Associate Members” of an Ox-
in the Extraordinary Form. Confessions are ford University college, allowing them access
heard before every Mass, on Saturdays and to many benefits and facilities of the univer-
upon request. sity. These include the Oxford meal service,
The Oratory’s prayer life includes several which is available at relatively low cost. All
devotions open to students, including venera- students belong to the Oxford Union, which
tion of St. Philip’s relic on Monday evenings, is the social arm of the university. It provides
Saturday devotions to Our Lady of Oxford, social events such as formal dinners and
and the Rosary on weekday mornings. Eu- balls, sports facilities and activities, and de-
charistic Adoration is every Friday and Sat- bates and talks by a wide range of high-pro-
urday evening. file international speakers from all walks of
There are opportunities for students to life: politics, sports, literature, entertainment,
sing in the schola; volunteer for serving, read- science, business and music. The Union is
ing and catechesis; and participate in social well-known for its prestigious debate society,
services. and St. Bede’s students can join in debating
The city of Oxford is home to several workshops.
other Catholic chapels of various religious Students also have access to the universi-
orders. Especially recommended are the Do- ty library facilities including the Bodleian Li-
minicans of Blackfriars Hall, who are known brary. Oxford’s libraries are among the most
for their orthodoxy and excellent lectures and celebrated in the world, not only for their col-
homilies. Opus Dei also has a house in Ox- lections of books and manuscripts but also for
ford. The Jesuit and Benedictine communities their buildings, some of which have remained
welcome students but are regarded as less tra- in continuous use since the Middle Ages.
ditional than the Oratory.
Residential Life
Student Activities
A common distinction between European
Students benefit from a range of social and universities and their American counterparts
cultural activities organized by St. Bede’s, is that the former do not offer the typical
such as orientation and four visits to places “campus life” that Americans are accustomed
of historical and cultural importance outside to, and that is generally true of St. Bede’s. Stu-
Oxford per term. dents are generally more independent and re-
Pilgrimages are envisioned to places like sponsible for obtaining meals, planning their
Tyburn (where St. Edmund Campion was own “free time” outside of the classroom, and

The Newman Guide 309
St. Bede’s Hall

managing their residences. The Community
Nevertheless, Father Jones points out
that students in Oxford “benefit from a frater- The City of Oxford is world-renowned for its
nal aspect of the City that is very much cen- tradition of academic pursuit. The contribu-
tered on the student.” This is clearly a “college tions of the Catholic Church are essential to
town” with a stable community. On the one the history of Oxford, particularly the men-
hand, St. Bede’s “will encourage the student dicant friars whose example of prayer, study
to be independent as a mature expression of and the common life resulted in what came to
their growth,” says Father Jones—but on the be understood as a university.
other hand, “it would not be acceptable to me, Cardinal Newman understood how the
were it an expectation of isolation or being in environment or “spirit of the place” for study
a foreign country fending was immensely important.
for oneself.” He called this the locus
The St. Bede’s staff is genui and understood how
fully committed to help- it worked “slowly, uncon-
ing students with all as- sciously, not the work of
pects of their lives while any individual, but simply
in Oxford. The college growing up as an invis-
has assigned a Welfare ible presence which could
Officer to assist students not be defined and which
with any problems with all acknowledged to be
housing, as well as those the soul of the life about
of a personal or academic them.” Newman proposed
nature. that the locus genui com-
Student housing in bined in itself “the power
central Oxford is pro- of discipline with the pow-
vided by St. Bede’s. The er of influence, for though
housing is almost exclu- its ways were indirect and
sively single-sex, and personal, it had all the au-
intervisiting is not al- thority of law and all the
lowed. Single or double consistency of a living
bedrooms are available idea” (Letter to Scratton,
with shared washing 1852).
and cooking facilities, en- In Oxford the edu-
abling students to cook for themselves at least cational experience is not confined to class-
some of the time. All houses have Internet ac- es and tutorials, but engages the entire city
cess. Accommodations in the homes of local through lectures, debates and events. The
Catholic families can also be arranged. city’s bustling life is dictated by the academic
Alcohol is available to students in lim- terms.
ited amounts at St. Bede’s social events.
Access to a medical practitioner is avail-
able at reduced cost. Students are advised to Bottom Line
obtain adequate health insurance before com-
ing to Oxford. It is naturally difficult for The Cardinal New-
man Society, which operates under the pa-

310 The Newman Guide
St. Bede’s Hall

tronage of John Henry Cardinal Newman, to Study abroad is not for every student,
resist excitement at the prospect of studying and the required maturity and confidence to
on Newman’s turf in a college supported by take advantage of all that Oxford University
the Oratory of St. Philip Neri. has to offer recommends this experience to
But even were we to ignore that obvious students who have reached at least their third
attraction, St. Bede’s would be a welcome ad- year of study. But study abroad options like
dition to The Newman Guide. The new college this one—particularly for Catholic students—
draws its inspiration and academic method- are quite rare and well worth considering.
ology from Oxford’s ancient academic tradi- The students and faculty of St. Bede’s have the
tions and Cardinal Newman’s notion of the assurance, no doubt, of Cardinal Newman’s
Catholic university. Its fidelity to Catholic prayers for God’s blessings.
teaching and dedication to students’ spiritual
development is apparent even as it welcomes
its first students from overseas.

The Newman Guide 311
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