The sight of our College Chapel at the entrance to the main building is a daily reminder of our core purpose as a Catholic foundation. So, at Trinity Catholic College, we seek to offer an educational environment which draws on Catholic teaching and spirituality. Central to this, as you know, is the availability of a full-time Chaplain, appointed to serving the students and staff of the College.
But what does he actually do to serve the community here? Well, his remit of care and responsibility extends to all students. He is also accessible for advice and guidance, when need arises, to staff and parents; and, in every case he does this regardless of their religious affiliation. The Chaplain tries to recognise different levels of spiritual awareness in an individual and then he helps them to develop and to grow closer in their friendship with God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Indeed, the importance of immediate and internal support and pastoral counselling, especially at times of crisis or bereavement, is an aspect of concern that the Chaplain places among his priorities of pastoral care. If you suffer bereavement or if you are ill, he will endeavour to visit families at home so that they know that the College cares for their well-being and health.
During his time at Trinity, the Chaplain has tried to encourage and build a common life here, founded on Catholic religious belief and worship, which has its focal point in the College’s celebration of Holy Mass, and other special celebrations. Our local Parish Priests come into College to offer Holy Mass with us and they are available for Confessions at least once every term. And so the Chaplain, along with visiting Clergy, offers spiritual direction as well as moral and pastoral advice and support.
It is the Chaplain’s intention to provide opportunities and direction for students at a time in their development when they are most in need of good advice and sound guidance. He uses a number of well-tried ways of doing this and there is no substitute for his personal approach. Those of you who know him well, appreciate that you are his priority whenever he encounters you.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) has to be one of the best ways to encourage regular self-appraisal, where similar good advice and sound guidance is given to you. This is because it reminds us that we are responsible for our own actions. At the same time, it offers us a way forward, once remorse has been shown and God’s forgiveness received. The Chaplain will never tire in encouraging you to go to receive the graces of Holy Mass and Confession!
The Chaplain encourages every student and member of staff to acquire a knowledge and awareness of the rich heritage of Christian culture and piety. Festivals, Saints’ days through the year, and popular expressions of faith and devotion form an important part of this. Familiarity with such well known examples of ways of praying, such as the Holy Rosary, Eucharistic Adoration and the Stations of the Cross he also regards as a proper aim to be diligently pursued. It is his sincere aim that no student under his care is left in ignorance of an integral aspect of Catholic worship, and which is still in use today in many places throughout the world. When Pope Benedict XVI addressed young people in the UK in Twickenham in 2012, he said: “I hope that among those of you listening to me today there are some of the future saints of the twenty-first century. What God wants most of all for each one of you is that you should become holy. He loves you much more than you could ever begin to imagine, and he wants the very best for you. And by far the best thing for you is to grow in holiness.” The Chaplain works with you and for you to become holy.
All of this, then, is to aid you and to give you an idea of what it means to live the Christian life as a young adult in an age full of complexities and contradictions. The Chaplain wants us never to forget that our faith allows us to apply absolute values in a world of diminishing respect for the principles of human dignity. The motto of Blessed John Henry Newman that “Heart speaks unto heart” is at the heart of the Chaplain’s life and ministry here at Trinity Catholic College.
In short, it’s the Chaplain’s special responsibility for nurturing and sustaining the religious character of the College and for maintaining a clear focus on its life as a Catholic community. His aim is to educate and develop you to your full potential as a mature and thoughtful individual. This is usually described as “education for the whole person” and includes social as well as personal qualities of kindness, good manners and habits of prayer and respect for God and for others. It is a noble as well as a challenging enterprise! It is a spirituality which does not believe that one size fits all and the Chaplain’s approach both sums up and identifies the aim of bringing the theory of faith and its active expression, to an individual student who then expresses it within a community of believers.
The Chaplain acknowledges that it’s an absolute joy to serve all in the Trinity family and you, for your part, enrich his life and ministry here in this place. With utter gratitude, he thanks you!