ONE of Oxford’s biggest churches is appealing for more funds to finish off a major construction project.
The Oxford Oratory is currently spending £5m on a redevelopment project which started in February but needs more cash to help it over the finish line.
One of just three Roman Catholic oratories in the country, the Oratory is currently building a new accommodation block which will also house community facilities.
Father Daniel Seward, the church’s provost and parish priest, said: “We urgently need this new accommodation in order to take new vocations and for our community to grow.
“The improved parish facilities and library will also make a vast difference to our congregation of around 1,000 people and to the wider community. The Fathers are grateful to all who have generously supported us up to this point.
“We are working hard to raise the further £700,000 we still need to pay for this vital project.”
The Oratory’s fundraising campaign, which began in 2008, has already raised over £2m, some of which has been spent on the restoration of the church’s sanctuary and on the preparation for building works.
Once completed, the block will feature a new parish office, kitchen and bar with five new bedrooms for priest and guest accommodation on the upper floors.
Wantage-based construction company Stepnell, which is carrying out the £1.5m building work, is also refurbishing the parish centre.
The firm is also converting the former school hall into a new library which will house the GK Chesterton archive and rare autographed manuscripts of St Ignatius of Loyola.
Project manager Peter McDonald said: “It’s great to see the building really taking shape.
“Now that we have the roof on and the lift shaft installed, we can start work on the interior accommodation.
“Our project team will be shortly starting construction of the mezzanine floor of the library and we’ll be removing the scaffolding from the building soon.”
The Oratory also hopes to build a new baptistry and chapel dedicated to John Henry Newman, the founder of the English Oratory.
It is expected this will be carried out in 2013.
Dedicated to St Aloysius Gonzaga, the Oxford Oratory in Woodstock Road was completed in 1875.