Church needs more funds to finish £5m renovation

Father Daniel Seward, left, and project manager Peter McDonald review building progress on the new accommodation block at the Oxford Oratory in Woodstock Road

Father Daniel Seward, left, and project manager Peter McDonald review building progress on the new accommodation block at the Oxford Oratory in Woodstock Road

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Council Reporter, also covering Oxford city centre. Call me on 01865 425429

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.

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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.

Comments (7)

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7:53am Mon 5 Nov 12

Myron Blatz says...

It seems ridiculous to expect the general public pay for the upkeep and repair of such buildings - especially when (despite what the Government might like us to believe) the Country is still in deep recession, with money very tight, even for those who are lucky enough to have full-time jobs. Some people have worked hard all their life, and now find themselves unemployed - and even youngsters who go to college and university (ending up with a degree PLUS £20,000-£30,000 instant debt!) Surely the Oratory is something which the Vatican should be helping to resolve, for the benefit of Roman Catholics, as it is about a building which is relevant to their particular brand of religion. Also, that since everyone else seems to go to the Lottery or English Heritage, why doesn't this particular Church do the same?
It seems ridiculous to expect the general public pay for the upkeep and repair of such buildings - especially when (despite what the Government might like us to believe) the Country is still in deep recession, with money very tight, even for those who are lucky enough to have full-time jobs. Some people have worked hard all their life, and now find themselves unemployed - and even youngsters who go to college and university (ending up with a degree PLUS £20,000-£30,000 instant debt!) Surely the Oratory is something which the Vatican should be helping to resolve, for the benefit of Roman Catholics, as it is about a building which is relevant to their particular brand of religion. Also, that since everyone else seems to go to the Lottery or English Heritage, why doesn't this particular Church do the same? Myron Blatz
  • Score: 1

9:46am Mon 5 Nov 12

Dilligaf2010 says...

“We are working hard to raise the further £700,000 we still need to pay for this vital project.” ..........

............Hmm, Vital...............
....No, sorry, words fail me!
“We are working hard to raise the further £700,000 we still need to pay for this vital project.” .......... ............Hmm, Vital............... ....No, sorry, words fail me! Dilligaf2010
  • Score: 0

12:35pm Mon 5 Nov 12

WitneyGreen says...

A 'church' is a group of people engaging in collective worship. It is not an enormous flashy building.

The upkeep of any religious or cultural building is only 'vital' for the people who use it, and in the case of the Oratory's congregation that is a relatively small number of people. The general public should not be asked to pay for its upkeep.
A 'church' is a group of people engaging in collective worship. It is not an enormous flashy building. The upkeep of any religious or cultural building is only 'vital' for the people who use it, and in the case of the Oratory's congregation that is a relatively small number of people. The general public should not be asked to pay for its upkeep. WitneyGreen
  • Score: 1

1:16pm Mon 5 Nov 12

Myron Blatz says...

Totally agree. Pity the Roman Catholic faith couldn't have invested the £2m+ in community projects which would benefit all faiths and all people in the community - such as helping to restore the Community Centres and public toilets in and around Oxford for which Oxford City Council has ignored and helped them to become disgusting run-down. I thought religion was supposed to be about people, not property and buildings. Mind you, Jesus apparently threw out the money lenders in the temple, whereas as Labour bailed them out! There's no justice ......
Totally agree. Pity the Roman Catholic faith couldn't have invested the £2m+ in community projects which would benefit all faiths and all people in the community - such as helping to restore the Community Centres and public toilets in and around Oxford for which Oxford City Council has ignored and helped them to become disgusting run-down. I thought religion was supposed to be about people, not property and buildings. Mind you, Jesus apparently threw out the money lenders in the temple, whereas as Labour bailed them out! There's no justice ...... Myron Blatz
  • Score: 1

1:53pm Mon 5 Nov 12

Darkforbid says...

Pope Benedict XVI is richer than Bill Gates, by at least 20 times.
Pope Benedict XVI is richer than Bill Gates, by at least 20 times. Darkforbid
  • Score: 0

2:09pm Mon 5 Nov 12

xjohnx says...

The building should be financed by the congregation, not the general population. I don't want anything to do with it.
The building should be financed by the congregation, not the general population. I don't want anything to do with it. xjohnx
  • Score: 1

5:42pm Tue 6 Nov 12

carfax cabby ox1 says...

Darkforbid wrote:
Pope Benedict XVI is richer than Bill Gates, by at least 20 times.
And The Catholic Church at least a thousand times. It is always the richest that bring the begging bowls out to the poorest.
[quote][p][bold]Darkforbid[/bold] wrote: Pope Benedict XVI is richer than Bill Gates, by at least 20 times.[/p][/quote]And The Catholic Church at least a thousand times. It is always the richest that bring the begging bowls out to the poorest. carfax cabby ox1
  • Score: 0

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