Fr. Hugh Pollock is a priest of 20 years who is currently Parish Priest of Holy Trinity and St George Kendal , Fr. Hugh’s ministry prior to this appointment was Chaplain to Lancaster University, this is what Fr. Hugh writes about his experience:
A young student from Northern Ireland had never sat down to dinner with a Catholic before, let alone with a nun playing a guitar, but it was the start of good friendships. One of the joys of chaplaincy is that it is a place where people who would never otherwise meet up come together and make friends. Possibly the most important thing that Chaplaincy has to offer is hospitality. You might ask why I do not say faith. Faith underpins everything that we do in Chaplaincy, and inspires the call to serve, but it is the open door and the generous welcome that makes it valuable to all members of the university community. It has its risks. One day a student knocked on my door to tell me that he felt called to kill Catholic priests. This was an extreme occurrence and yet not one that a cup of tea and a chat could not overcome. To say that we became great friends would be to exaggerate but we found a modus vivendi (literally). Chaplaincy can also be a refuge for some too. There are students who find the wider campus too much, and a spot in the Chaplaincy can become a welcome relief, though sometimes people need to be encouraged to brave the world outside.
People are aware of what happens in Chaplaincy and quick to comment if the Christians do not appear to love each other as much as they should. I discovered a great richness in the ecumenical life of our community. I met with the Anglican and Methodist chaplains every week, together with Deacon Jim Wood and Sr. Ella, the assistant Catholic chaplains, and we prayed and discussed what we could do for the students and staff. In my experience the value of Catholic life and the sacraments becomes even clearer when you have to explain them and their worth to others. ‘Why cannot we just have a Liturgy of the Word on Sunday?’ someone might ask. It is in explaining it to them that I learnt as well as them. From this shared base inter-faith discussions could happen. Each term we had a gathering of sometimes forty or more across all faiths (including a variety of pagans on one occasion, one of whom was later confirmed) which usually ended with a healthy buffet of Asian food.
Services have a very international feel and our 60s building came alive with all the colours of the flags of the various nations in ‘Freshers’Week’. Every continent is represented. Helping to make international students feel at home, and often particularly the post-grads who have no set social life, was very important and for them the church was something they knew, and a place they were happy to come and discuss and share their faith with home grown students.
I was fortunate enough to be a college Principal too, which opened up doors into many other parts of the University, and to experiences that are not all suitable for this article.
Being a Chaplain is fun, its hours are not a usual priest’s hours, but it is a joy to work with predominantly young people and both share one’s faith with them and see their sincerity in return. How they changed over three years was always a wonder.
As you can see our priests play an important role in our schools, to help this vital work to continue we need more men young and old alike in our Diocese to answer the Lords call to priesthood. Maybe you are a young man who has at one point or another considered priesthood, but for whatever reason has put this though out of your mind. Maybe you are older and have had these thoughts in the past, but for some reason you think it is too late to explore this sense of calling. I encourage you to make contact with the vocations team. Our Diocese needs you THINK PRIESTHOOD!
Director of Vocations: (for enquirers aged over 21 years)
Father Darren Carden St Clare’s Presbytery Sharoe Green Lane North Fulwood, PRESTON, PR2 9HH Telephone: (01772) 719604 Mobile/SMS text: 07552 795060 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Co-Director of Vocations: (for enquirers aged 15-20 years)
Canon Adrian J Towers St Andrew’s Presbytery 114 Hoyle’s Lane Cottam, PRESTON, PR4 0NB Telephone: (01772) 726166 Email: email@example.com