Feast marks change at Campion Hall
The feast of St Edmund Campion was marked at Campion Hall this year with a change of key personnel: Fr Nick Austin SJ was installed as the new Master of Campion Hall and Fr Frank Turner SJ took over as Superior of the community.
Outgoing Master Fr James Hanvey SJ presided at a special Eucharist. As the homilist, Fr Nick Austin said he was daunted to be preaching in Oxford on the feast of one of the great Jesuit preachers and rhetoricians, whose speechmaking famously impressed Queen Elizabeth. Fr Nick reminded us that Campion was also a great scholar, but who exchanged an illustrious career in the church and academe for the dangerous English mission saying: “As for me, all is over … I have made a free oblation of myself to His Divine Majesty, both for life and death, and I hope He will give me grace and force to perform; and this is all I desire.”
“We cannot help but recognize here the suscipe -the ‘Take, Lord, Receive’ of the Spiritual Exercises - spoken with moving eloquence, not only by Campion’s words, but also by his life, and by his death: ‘I have made a free oblation of myself’. It is this Campion, I believe, who tonight is our contemporary, our companion,” Fr Nick concluded. Fittingly, a premiere of a new Suscipe, composed by Luca Uggias for the occasion, was performed after communion
Mass was followed by the end-of-term formal hall dinner for the community and invited guests, to give thanks to Fr Hanvey for his five years’ leadership and to welcome Fr Nick and Fr Frank.
The Provincial, Fr Damian Howard SJ said: “The appointment of the Master is a privileged moment of interaction between the Society of Jesus and the University of Oxford. I am grateful that we have found a candidate who fulfils the expectations of both parties... I am confident that [Fr Nick and Fr Frank] will be able to continue to develop the Society’s presence in one of the world’s most important universities.”
In response to a speech of thanks from Assistant Superior Fr Patrick Riordan SJ, Fr Hanvey said “I am especially grateful for all the good friendships I have made during my time at the Hall, to quote W.B. Yeats – “my glory was I had such friends.””
Incoming Master Fr Nick Austin said “I am looking forward to building on the work of Fr Hanvey in extending the academic mission of the Hall. I hope to continue to develop the Hall’s unique contribution to the mission of the Society of Jesus and the work of the University of Oxford.”
This is an especially interesting time for Campion Hall as it prepares to launch the new Laudato Si’ Research Institute in September 2019. Fr Nick commented, “Through the Institute we will respond to Pope Francis’ call to hear the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor. Our research in the space where Theology interacts with a range of academic disciplines from social to natural sciences, aims to transform understanding of the gift of Creation and how we are called to care for our common home.”
Other features of the Campion Hall programme in the coming months include an international symposium on discernment, serving Pope Francis’ vision for a discerning Church. A new Arrupe Research Fellow in Forced Migration Studies (a joint appointment with Jesuit Refugee Service International and the Oxford University Refugee Studies Centre) has just been appointed, and a major conference is planned next year on the transformative impacts of accompanying refugees. Fr Nick also hopes to develop Campion Hall’s contribution in spirituality and social ethics. “I am looking forward to the challenge”, he said.
Please pray for the work of Campion Hall and its new leaders.