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Oxford Oratory adapts to increase in conversions, sacraments

Bierzmowanie w Oratorium w Oxfordzie

oxford.oratory | Instagram

Aleteia - published on 02/28/24

In recent months in Oxford, England, there has been an interesting phenomenon: an increase in people entering the Catholic Church and being confirmed.

A unique time has come in the history of the Oxford Oratory. They have been receiving more requests than ever from adults for preparation to enter the Church, and receive the sacraments of Baptism and/or Confirmation. They report having more than 20 adults come to them in 2023. The course, which ended in early February, resulted in ten people receiving Confirmation: five newly baptized, three received into full communion with the Church, and two Catholics who had not received this sacrament. A second edition of the course is now underway, with equally high interest.

The group of Confirmation recipients is exceptionally diverse, consisting of people from different nations and faith backgrounds. It’s interesting to note that most of them are recently baptized, raised in the Protestant tradition, or coming from Catholic families. Such diversity testifies to the Church’s universal message, attracting people with different backgrounds and spiritual experiences.

From individual conversations to group support

Inspired by St. Philip Neri, the Oratorians at the Oxford Oratory have traditionally leaned toward individual guidance for those interested in Catholicism. However, faced with growing interest, they decided to experiment with a group format. This step proved successful; adult converts were able to get to know and support each other in the process of learning the Church’s teachings. This change in methodology underscores the dynamics of evangelization, which can adapt to needs and circumstances to best serve the spiritual growth of new believers.

This unexpected increase in the number of people seeking to join the Catholic Church carries an important message. As the Oratorians point out, “Whatever else may be happening in the world, God never ceases to call his children back to himself. And it is a great joy to be there and welcome them when they answer that call.”

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The long-lasting presence of the Church in Oxford

The Catholic Church has a rich history in Oxford, dating back to the time when the local university began to grow from friaries and abbeys. In the 19th century, the city also became the site of the Oxford movement, which brought parts of the Anglican Communion closer to Catholicism. St. John Henry Newman, a convert and an Oratorian, was one of the leaders of this movement, which further underscores the deep roots of Catholicism in the region.

The phenomenon of an increase in the number of people wishing to join the Catholic Church is certainly noteworthy. It testifies to the continuing relevance and attraction of the Church’s message, which transcends national, cultural, and spiritual barriers.

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