Speak always about God.
Formation and Daily Routines
- Joshua Pollard, College of the Resurrection, Mirfield
The College of the Resurrection, Mirfield to most, has formed ordinands for the Sacred Priesthood since 1902. Established by the Brethren of the Community of the Resurrection it has a long history of training individuals from all backgrounds and walks of life, through a Christ-centred approach to formation that is rooted in service, prayer and the daily celebration of the Mass to receive from the Lord through Word and Sacrament. Formation and academic preparation coexist and are both held in high regard by the tutors, and are seen as central in preparing ordinands for the rigorous demands of public ministry. The pattern of daily worship is catholic, yet simple and uncluttered, with plainsong sung each day at Evensong and with servers, vestments and incense used at Mass, striking well a balance which ensures that the worship is authentic and offers worthy praise to God.
We are not preparing to be monks, but living alongside a monastic community makes training at Mirfield truly unique. Living alongside a monastic community, conversing and participating in some shared worship with the Brethren, has certain privileges. Inspired by the Brethren, the college lives a common life, that gathers around two tables, the Altar and in the Refectory. Importantly, there remains opportunities alongside the monastic style of daily pattern that we follow, to appreciate new and creative ways of building a praying and serving community.
Let me offer you a glimpse of a typical day:
It is often remarked that students of Mirfield are rarely seen without their cassock and scapular on. Whilst somewhat true, they are only mandatory for our times of worship and formal meals. We begin our day in the college’s lower church at 07:30 with student-led Mattins, followed by Mass. The sung opening responses at Mattins break the silence of the past night, and as our voices ascend, we are centred and unified in prayer. Into the forefront of the mind and in the heart is found and felt the beauty and splendour of God, whose endless grace and mercy is granted to His servants.
A buffet-style breakfast is available in the refectory after morning worship and is held in silence, to enable those who wish, an ample time to reflect. It is then between the hours of 09:30-10:50, or 11:00-12:50, that lectures are usually situated, and a comfort break is always given between two individual blocks of 50 minutes teaching. Students have an incredible array of individual timetables and different subject lectures, depending on their chosen pathway.
Between the two morning lecture slots is a daily time to gather for coffee and cake (baked fresh each day) in the refectory. It is one of those points in the day which grants students and tutors a chance to catch up on news or to impart important information. Building community in a common life takes effort and every opportunity is valuable, and it is therefore strongly encouraged that everyone attends.
Lunch is served in the refectory at 13:00 after a said grace. Meals at Mirfield are provided three times a day, seven days a week, which allows those with less culinary skills to hold no fear (a kitchen is available for those who would trample any MasterChef winner). After lunch, depending on the day, either choir practice, lectures, liturgy rehearsals or free time is given until 6pm. One day a week, we gather in Tutor Groups for an hour which gives a space for mutual fellowship, conversation, support and most importantly, the weekly notices which shape and support our common life.
At 18:00 we gather for Evensong with the Brethren in upper church. Some choose to be present in the church a little earlier, to pray before the Sacrament in silence. In Evensong, psalms are sung by both student and Brethren cantors. The rhythm of the prayer and the times of silence for contemplation are important in any liturgy and it is for many students the highlight of their day to participate as the Body of Christ with the Brethren in this daily act of praise.
After Evensong, dinner is served in the refectory after a said grace. The meals at dinner are served by students, feeding into the common life of service and care for one another. Once dinner has ended, students are able to use evenings for their own purposes – some choose to study, and some choose to relax and wind down in the student Common Room over music or a movie. Of course, it is always essential to have time for fun and recreation. A wise Bishop on retreat reminded us of the importance for the Church to house ‘more prayer and more parties’. A range of socials are organised throughout the year, some at the college bar or in the grounds, on visits or pilgrimages.
Compline happens with the Brethren each day at 21:15 which students are warmly welcomed to attend, whilst some prefer to pray alone in their rooms or in the college oratory before the reserved Sacrament. Compline also completes the day, and as the lights grow dim and silence falls upon the grounds of the hillside Community and college of the Resurrection, the students ask for the aid of Mary’s prayers to God, for the granting of protection, peace and rest before the dawn of the new day.
The College of the Resurrection - Surrexit Alleluia!