On Tuesday 14 May the Lower Sixth pupils travelled to Birmingham for their annual Day of Recollection. In many respects this was a question of looking forwards and looking backwards. We returned to our first home at the Birmingham Oratory where the school was founded in 1859. Brother David and Brother Zachariah led us on a tour of the church, the Fathers’ buildings and the Shrine of Blessed John Henry Newman. It was a powerful thing to stand on the spot where the young Father Norris taught his class alongside five others in a huge schoolroom before he became Head Master. It was also very powerful to say our prayers at the casket which contains some of our Founder’s mortal remains and other material from his grave. In a few months’ time the focus of the world will be on this spot with the coming canonisation.
After a lunch eaten in the cloister which was the first school gymnasium – rather different from our multi-million pounds sports centre and swimming pool – the boys travelled the relatively short distance to St Mary’s College, Oscott, one of the three seminaries for training Catholic priests in this country. Five of the seminarian showed us round and shared in an open-hearted way what it means to respond to God’s call. Few boys expected the tour to take in the seminarians’ common room with its bar and the gym which has been recently upgraded. We all have a vocation. Discerning what God wants of us and responding to it is a vital part of adult life.
Benediction in the beautiful gothic college chapel ended the time at Oscott before returning to school. Upper Sixth life beckons in a few months’ time.