… The Hidden Jewel
Chaplaincies and the Support Group
For over 60 years Chaplaincy ministry to the Universities in Sheffield has been bringing together students in worship and formation as young Catholic adults.
Described by our Bishops as one of the jewels of the Diocese, the Chaplaincy continues to nurture vocations, to priesthood, religious life and Christian marriage.
Padley House, situated at the heart of the University complex, was purchased in the early 1950s and has been a vibrant focal point for the student community ever since. There have been a number of Chaplains over this time, with Fr Peter Cullen, the current Chaplain, having ministered at Wellesley Road for the last 26 years.
The support of the laity of the Diocese has been instrumental in the Chaplaincy’s ministry from its inception, with the late Cardinal Heenan encouraging our laity to form the Sheffield Universities Chaplaincies Fund, with representation from many organisations, including the UCM., the Catholic Medical Association, the Catenian Association, the Catholic Teachers Association, the Notre Dame Association and the Knights of St Columba.
This ministry of Chaplaincy has always been quite unique, but is not able to draw income by way of weekly collections, stipends and the other resources available in parishes. The external support has continued to be important to the work of the Chaplaincy, facilitating retreats and other events, while also ensuring that students receive a warm Sheffield welcome at Padley House.
The Chaplaincy Community
The Chaplaincy Community is formed mainly by undergraduate and postgraduate students, bringing together young people from all over the UK, and the world, from every background, to share and grow in faith and friendship. Several members of university staff, as well as some graduates, who have remained in Sheffield, are also members of the community and very supportive of students.
The community is centred around Padley House, where Mass is celebrated each Sunday, and on weekdays throughout term time, as well as there being prayer groups, retreats and talks on diverse topics of faith and life.
Padley House is often described as a ‘home from home’ for many, where students are always welcome to have a coffee, lunch and a chat. The community has a student committee, which with the Chaplain and his Lay Assistant, work hand in hand to develop the Chaplaincy’s ministry, organising events and services.
The community pursue a strong pastoral and social mission. Led by the Chaplain and his Lay Assistant in spiritual and social events, the community support each other, often at times when many are growing in and exploring their faith, and facing possible future directions in life. Many of the friendship and strong memories founded in the community continue to flourish for decades.
Over the years the University Chaplaincies have nurtured a number of vocations to priesthood and religious life. In addition to those already ordained and in ministry, there are currently 5 students from the Sheffield Chaplaincies studying for the priesthood at the English College in Rome, and 7 students who are in formation with religious congregations.
Fr Peter comments, “With great satisfaction, I have conducted 79 Catholic marriages during my time as Chaplain and it is such a joy to see those former students living out the vocation of Christian marriage.”
Supporting University Chaplaincy
Through the grace of the Diocese and our laity, the University Chaplaincy continues to be one of our jewels, helping and supporting many students growing in their faith and formation as young adults in a welcoming environment.
This ministry remains important and the support of the Diocese and of each one of us is central to this.
If you are interested in learning more about the Chaplaincy or its community and would like to offer support, please contact: Terry Conneely, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, mobile: 07879 540245 or John Booth, email: email@example.com.
Dr Hamilton Grantham
Acting Chair, Diocese of Hallam Universities Chaplaincy Association
A Student’s Experience of Life at the University of Sheffield Catholic Chaplaincy, Padley House
The Chaplaincy is so much more than a place for Sunday Mass! It is a community of young people who are a second family to me.
University is a very secular place and therefore, it is key for Catholic students to be there for one another. Frankly, it is unfashionable to be Catholic, so knowing and having Catholic friends makes a world of difference.
We run weekly popular events at the Chaplaincy that are loved by all of our members! – I look forward to Tuesday night every week! Come massive deadlines and lots of stress you will still find me there! For many Catholic students coming to University is the first time they will be in charge of their own religious obligations, it also happens to be the time we change and grow into ourselves the most. Having the Chaplaincy (friends and support) encourages students to keep attending Mass despite deadlines, despite the judgement other people might pass for it, and therefore to me the Chaplaincy is invaluable.