Spirituality & Programme


The July Ampleforth Student conference soon settled into a pattern. Its members were mostly contacted by word of mouth, though a small trickle came from national advertisements or mentions in the Ampleforth Journal. The plan of the week provided a framework which defined the purpose of the week. The Conference was especially for those who were either in their last years at school (15plus) or in sixth forms or colleges and were Catholic. Its purpose was to reinforce whatever Catholic experience they had had, and to bring them into a deeper relationship with Jesus by the power of His Holy Spirit.. The week began with a Reconciliation service on Monday night to put behind the past , Tuesday focused on Jesus and his invitation to be his follower , Wednesday brought him our weakness and damage for Him to heal, Thursday centred on the Holy Spirit and His gifts , and on Friday the emphasis was on the community which Jesus lead us into for our journey in Faith whether home, prayer group, parish community, chaplaincy, or religious community,

This programme and its related reaching evolved over a few years and then remained constant. Its value is to emphasise the key areas of Catholic Christian growth and experience, though of course in a growing and balanced Christian life each area needs constant attention and growth. Anyone coming for the first time will perhaps find the first day the most fruitful but the old timers will always deepen their knowledge and commitment as they share and lead the newer ones into the now familiar areas.

The day begins with a group joining the monks in the Abbey for Matins and Lauds at 0615. At 1000 there is a sessions which includes an introduction to the day and a witness .which is followed by groups. A simple lunch heralds an afternoon of games, sports and walks. At 5.00 there is the main talk of the day and after supper the Mass is celebrated followed by ministry in the appropriate area – dedication, healing, receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The experience of the week was so obviously refreshing and the vitality of the community so spiritually vigorous and enriching that nearly all experienced the touch of God in their lives.. Many participants returned several times and deep friendships were formed,, some found partners in the conference and married, some became priests and religious. This experience of God often came just at the time when it was most under threat that period between leaving school and settling into an established pattern of life. It gives. an experience of God and the Catholic faith which the young people were able to look back to as a moment when God was close and real. A yearly newsletter links all the past members of the Conference..

Early in the 1980s there was a move to develop a greater sense of community among the members during the year, based on prayer and scripture reading. However  the dispersal of the members and the difficulty of uniting meant that it did not develop . .

In the 1990s the centring of a number of members of the community in West Yorkshire led to the development of a network with regular monthly meetings in St Bridget’s parish in Huddersfield. Another network developed in Liverpool. Members became involved in the Upper Room community in St. Albans where there was good teaching and the witness of a lay community which was well established.. This greater activity developed into a more organised community with Benedictine influences. A way of life was drawn up for the community for guidance and instruction for a richer spiritual life. Different ministries developed for building up the community and developing a mission to schools and parishes.