Monday, November 16, 2009

The Oxford Jesuits

Fr. John Moffatt SJ joined the Jesuits in 1982 after leaving university, where he studied Classics and Philosophy. He has spent most of his working Jesuit life as a teacher-chaplain at St. Ignatius College, Enfield and Wimbledon College, South London (two Jesuit comprehensive schools). There he taught mostly RE/Philosophy of Religion, Latin/Classics and some drama. This has been interspersed with periods of study at London, Innsbruck and Oxford. He has done some work in adult formation and has written a book (Beyond the Catechism) to help those who have intellectual difficulties with their faith. Hobbies include walking up (and down) mountains and playing the viola (at home). Currently he is looking for a band dodgy enough to need his electric viola and iffy tenor sax.

Fr Roger Dawson SJ served as an officer with the Royal Greenjackets before studying Psychology at Durham University. After a career working as a psychologist with the National Health Service, he joined the Jesuits in 1996 and has since studied philosophy and Theology in London and Paris. He worked on his doctorate in Psychology while teaching at Wimbledon College and has also worked at the Cardinal Hume Centre in London during his final year of Theology. He is currently assistant editor of the Jesuit Spirituality Journal ‘The Way’, chairs the managing committee for the Jesuit Volunteer Communities in Britain and is a sought after speaker on the subject of adolescent psychology.

Fr Simon Bishop SJ

Fr Simon was born in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (an interesting co-incidence given the chaplaincy’s recent link with Mwanza in Tanzania) and then brought up in Fiji in the South Pacific (no his father was not an international rugby player but an educationalist for UNESCO) before going to school with the Jesuits at Stonyhurst, Lancashire. He studied theology (at the other place!) before training and working as a social worker in south London, trying to prevent homelessness among teenagers. Since entering the Society of Jesus he has been mainly involved in chaplaincy work in Jesuit secondary schools: three years at Wimbledon College, three years at St Louis de Gonzague, Paris and four years at St Aloysius’ College, Glasgow. He has just returned from a year abroad – four months with the Jesuits in Guyana, South America, and seven months in Australia where he was completing his Jesuit formation, the tertianship. (For an explanation, see the Jesuit web site, We especially arranged for the chair and vice-chair of the CathSoc to be Aussies, to make him feel very much at home! We hope his time with us will be very happy. You are very welcome!

Link (here) to the chaplaincy team at The Catholic Chaplaincy at Oxford.

Link (here) to their home page and (here) to their blog.

Photo is of the Oxford Oratory also known as St. Aloysius Gonzaga Catholic Church


Anonymous said...

Many Catholics in England and Wales think it is a great pity that the Oxford Catholic Chaplaincy is not in the hands of diocesan priests, as in the past. Judging by your links the student body is being smothered in parochial Jesuit concerns to the exclusion of all else and being run as a Jesuit campus. This will give an unbalanced view of the Church.

By the way, the picture you use of St Aloysius, Oxford,formerly a Jesuit church, is now run by the Oratorians.

Cole Matson said...


I am a student at Oxford University, and serve as a volunteer sacristan at the Chaplaincy. I also receive spiritual direction from one of the chaplains. I can assure you no one is being "smothered by parochial Jesuit concerns," especially not "to the exclusion of all else." While we do celebrate the Jesuit feast days alongside those of the universal Church and local diocese, and enjoy a good relationship with the Jesuits' Campion Hall next door, we students also regularly interact with members of other orders, and also with diocesan priests (though I admit not as often as with religious).

If you click the link in the post to the Chaplaincy team, you'll notice that there are two other members of the team, a lay chaplain and a Dominican friar. Last Sunday our guest preacher was a diocesan priest and former Oxford chaplain. The Chaplaincy uses at least one diocesan priest, as well as religious sisters, in its retreat programs for students. (I was assigned to a diocesan priest during my first Chaplaincy retreat.) We have also had Oratorians, Benedictines, and others as speakers. There's also vocational information constantly displayed from orders of all kinds, including prominent materials promoting the diocesan priesthood.

I love our Jesuits, who are good men, dependable, trustworthy, and caring. Our entire team - Jesuit, Dominican, and unaffiliated lay - is cherished by the student body, and constantly finds new ways to serve us. I haven't heard a bad word said about any of them in the year I've been here, and I'm there every day.

It shouldn't be assumed that because they're Jesuit they exclude anything not Jesuit-related. It's simply not true. They also shouldn't be judged on whether they're Jesuits or diocesan. Their affiliation or not to an order isn't related to their quality as chaplains, which is what they should be judged on. And if judged on that proper criterion, I can't imagine better chaplains than ours.