Opening the doors to Stonyhurst’s Christian Heritage Centre!
Tuesday 17th September 2019
Written by Stefan Kaminski, Director at The Christian Heritage Centre at Stonyhurst
Set up some seven years ago, the charity called The Christian Heritage Centre finally opened the doors of its beautiful new home, Theodore House, last February. A large gathering of some two hundred people, which included Lord Shuttleworth, the Lord-Lieutenant of Lancashire, and Right Reverend John Arnold, was presided over by Lord Nicholas Windsor. The Catholic royal unveiled a plaque to commemorate the opening of Theodore House, which is a converted cornmill built in the 1840s and a grade II listed building. Prior to the ceremony, the Bishop of Salford consecrated the Oratory and celebrated Mass therein.
Lord Alton of Liverpool, who until recently has guided the project as Chairman of the Charity, said: “The name Theodore means ‘gift from God’ and hopefully time spent at Theodore House will prove to be a gift to anyone who is searching for Him, or wanting to know God better.” He also acknowledged and thanked the many donors and supporters who have given financially and of their time to the charity, and made the project possible.
The charity was inspired by the incredible collection of artefacts and relics that is held by Stonyhurst College. Beginning with a cape made for the coronation of King Henry VIII, the Jesuits amassed a living testimony to some 600 years of English Catholic history. Many items, especially those of a religious nature such as the rope that bound St Edmund Campion, were sent to the Jesuit college that began life in St Omers, France. Boys travelling to the continent for a Catholic education would stow away small images and relics amongst their personal effects, smuggling these abroad for safekeeping.
The charity’s aim is therefore to offer learning and spiritual renewal inspired by this great heritage. In order to facilitate this, Theodore House offers residential, retreat and conference facilities set in the tranquillity of the stunning, Stonyhurst estate. With a beautiful atrium, seminar rooms, an Oratory, dining room and 24 en-suite bedrooms sleeping 37 guests, it is perfectly fitted out to accommodate a variety of events and groups.
Events, including ‘Imagining Reality’, a study weekend on faith in English literature, retreats, talks and conferences, are already being advertised on the charity’s website and social media. Parish and school groups will be offered retreats and learning visits around themes related to the Collections, tailored to their particular schedules.
Various groups such as the Catholic Union of Great Britain and the Catenians have already hosted their own conferences and meetings at Theodore House, and it has welcomed a number of pilgrim and school groups from both the UK and overseas. Groups and individuals are also welcome to simply make use of the bed and breakfast facilities on offer, as a base for a quiet few days of rest and relaxation.