Now that a fairly hectic Welcome Week ( which I believe is the preferred term to Freshers Week!) is drawing to a close, I feel that I am beginning to get my feet under the desk here in Manchester. I have been hugely impressed by the students involved in the chaplaincy – their commitment, their talents, the passion they show when they talk about the community here. I keep on pinching myself about the great potential there is here. One story that has amused me already was about a talk that my predecessor, Fr Ian Kelly, had organised. American Cardinal Raymond Burke came to talk about the New Evangelisation. 400 attended, so the chaplaincy had to book the Whitworth Hall at the university to accommodate a big crowd. The caretaker whilst setting out extra chairs for the arriving guests, surprised at the numbers, said to one of the students ‘Is this guy the Pope?’. It turned out that Alex Ferguson (United Manager), had been awarded an honorary doctorate the week before and they didn’t need the extra chairs. Well its a good sign that Cardinal Burke can draw a bigger crowd than Fergie!
Already the ‘Faith and Politics’ group has an impressive line up of speakers organised, with Shadow Defence Minister Jim Murphy coming in two weeks (Oct 3) to talk about his Catholic faith. A week later we will have Andy Burnham and Jeremy Lefroy coming. Burnham has been a real key player in the Hillsborough campaign, so even though he is an Evertonian he will be made very welcome! A friend was at wedding with his family recently and said how impressive it was to see them leave early the next morning to drive back across the country so they could get to mass as their local parish. Later in November we are hoping to have Paul Goggins, Ivan Lewis, Lord Alton, John Battle and Christopher Lamb, all on the same night! And then Faith and Politics will finish November with none other than the controversial George Galloway on the role of Faith in politics. And that’s just Semester One! So well done to Matthew and Eamon for organising that – now we are trying to get speakers organised for the faith and Science group – any ideas or contacts let me know!