What does it mean to be a Catholic University College?
The three distinctly Catholic University Colleges, Leeds Trinity University College, Newman University College and St Mary’s University College, have developed the following statement to show how their Catholic heritage informs their approach to education and training.
Institutions living within our Catholic heritage
As Catholic colleges we are institutions dedicated to the development of individuals as whole persons, aware of the world in which they live, and informed, active and able participants in the ongoing exchange of ideas that marks out human society. Our approach to education and training exemplifies the centuries-old Catholic tradition of celebrating human knowledge, which proceeds from an appreciation of the dignity of the human person and the need for vigorous, respectful and charitable dialogue in the pursuit of truth. Sustained attention is given to the individual abilities and needs of every student, in order that they may realise their potential and find joy in the engagement with their specific subject areas. Learning takes place within a vibrant and supportive academic community in which the values of cooperation, intellectual freedom and pastoral care are especially prized. Our students are provided with a sense of vocation, so that they may use their skills and knowledge to contribute to the betterment of society.
As institutions living within our Catholic heritage, we are:
Serving the whole of society
As Catholic colleges we strive, through developing our unique identity and mission, to serve the whole of society and its peoples.
A Catholic University…is called on to become an ever more effective instrument of cultural progress for individuals as well as for society. Included among its research activities, therefore, will be a study of serious contemporary problems in areas such as the dignity of human life, the promotion of justice for all, the quality of personal and family life, the protection of nature, the search for peace and political stability, a more just sharing in the world's resources, and a new economic and political order that will better serve the human community at a national and international level. Apostolic Constitution of John Paul II on Catholic Universities (Ex Corde, para 26)
In this task, openness to engagement with religious truth is particularly upheld. Our identity is shaped by the regular worship that takes place in each institution’s chapel, and by a dynamic college chaplaincy. Particular emblematic importance is accorded to the study of theology and religious studies, and to developing deeper understandings of the diverse cultures of our contemporary world.
Our mission and work testifies to the Catholic Church’s ongoing commitment to the service of society in this country and internationally, offering its resources for the good of all. Our mission emerges from that of the Church, which, following the example of the risen Jesus Christ, discloses the depth of human dignity and the potential for transformation of the world.
History of the Chapel at Leeds Trinity
The chapel, with its pointing spire surmounted by a simple cross, is a dominant external feature of Leeds Trinity University College. Internally, it lies to the right of the main entrance, immediately accessible yet providing a place of quiet and withdrawal. It is a visible mark of our status as independent and Catholic and is intended to function as a differentiating element which gives meaning and life to this particular community. Its prime function is to provide a location for daily Mass and especially the University College's Sunday principal act of worship. It is also the scene of corporate celebration, fellowship and sharing of both joy and sorrow. It witnesses to Feast Days, to rejoicing in music and song and to loving memory of departed staff and students as well as occasionally providing a location for weddings and baptism of members of the community. Nevertheless, it is a private chapel and not a parish church. It is a University College facility for the expression and renewal of its corporate life.
The work of building, maintaining and edifying a Christian community is a continuous activity and it is the same with the building that symbolises this communal enterprise. The Leeds Trinity chapel has been enriched and adorned over the past forty years with dedication, care and affection.
The architects deliberately handed over the chapel in such a state as to allow it to be adorned and enriched at a later stage in accordance with the wishes of the Colleges. The two Principals were hugely important in the design of the new chapel. Items of the chapel furniture and fittings were to be designed and made by members of the Colleges. The artistic process was seen as a service aimed at celebrating the glory of God, a service in which the purpose of the artist is dedicated to the revelation of the Divine Mysteries in building up the community of the Colleges as part of the universal Church of Christ.
The chapel was opened and dedicated on 13 July 1968 when Archbishop Dwyer of Birmingham was Principal Celebrant at the concelebrated Solemn Votive Mass of the Most Holy Trinity.
Internally, the chapel is hexagonal, though some have recognised a heart-like shape in the overall plan. Around the chapel are sacristies, meeting rooms, chapels, vestries and other amenities. The hexagon is one of the many geometrical shapes to which the Church has given symbolic significance as indicating creation and completion. The six sides represent the six days of creation. We are the final act of God’s creation and occupy the middle ground between God and His earlier work.
The insulating roof panels, like the floor, are tessellations – coherent shapes – in this case, triangles. The triangle is, of course, an ancient symbol of the Holy Trinity and the roof tiles serve to emphasize the Trinitarian motif within the chapel.
There is only one altar, in accordance with the insights of the Second Vatican Council. The altar symbolizes Christ, Mediator, the New Adam. It reminds us of sacrifice, atonement and communion. It stands separate and as a centre, four-square and focal point. The cube is a symbol of perfection and has reminiscences of the New Jerusalem (Revelation, xxi, 16) and associations with all the saints. Its base is made of York stone and rests on a number of old stones. These come from Yorkshire abbeys and remind us that we have earthly loyalties, geography, history and culture as well as heavenly aspirations.
The great rood or cross behind the main altar is a modern, realistic representation in bronze and fibre glass of the moment of Christ’s death – the end of the great work of Redemption wrought by the Master Carpenter of Nazareth: the act which potentially unified God and man, man with man, and sanctified all our work. The figure of Christ was made by and modelled on Charles I’Anson, who was Senior Lecturer in Sculpture at Leeds Trinity. The crucifix, which weighs 2 cwt, took I’Anson eighteen months to complete and was placed in the Chapel in October 1971.
The Side Chapels
There are no side chapels in the strict sense since none of the peripheral enclosures possesses an altar but we will use this term for convenience. To the left of the altar (as you face it) is the Blessed Sacrament Chapel where Christ is sacramentally present in the tabernacle (a domed safe containing consecrated Hosts), a reminder of His living bodily presence in His Church. The Lady Chapel is furnished in traditional blue and contains a statue of the Madonna (Our Lady of Hope) sculpted by the Spanish artist (Dr José Garcia-Maria) Moro whose wife was the model for the statue. In 1969 Moro had visited Leeds Trinity as a member of a group of lecturers from Spain. Andrew Kean asked him to undertake the work on the Lady Chapel.
The stained glass window depicting The Most Holy Trinity was installed as a tribute to Andrew Kean and Sr Augusta Maria, the founding Principals of Trinity & All Saints Colleges. It was dedicated on Trinity Sunday 1980 on the occasion of their joint retirement. It was designed by George Faczynski and made by J.O’Neill, Son and Partners of Liverpool. The window contains not only depictions of the Trinity but also a shamrock and three fishes, enduring Christian symbols.
The Stations of the Cross
The original stations placed on the outside of the column are made of aluminium, following a material theme and reminding us that all materials are sacred. The pottery stations on the inside of the columns are of pottery and contain the canonical minimum – a cross and a number. The numbers are Roman and the Cross is Chad’s, the apostle of this area of England (hence Shadwell, St Chad’s well).
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