A new community of the Congregation of the Oratory of St Philip Neri is to be established in Bournemouth.
The community, which will be inaugurated at the Sacred Heart church in September, will be the sixth Oratory to be set up in England.
Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth, who invited the Oratorians to Bournemouth, said they would form part of a “major evangelisation drive”.
The centre will be an “Oratory in formation” and will be made up of Fr Dominic Jacob, co-founder of the Oxford Oratory, Fr Peter Edwards and Fr David Hutton.
The first Oratory was established by Blessed John Henry Newman in Birmingham in 1848. The London Oratory followed a year later. In the early 1990s an Oratory was established in Oxford. In 2013 two Oratories “in formation” were set up, one at St Chad’s in Manchester and the other in St Wilfrid’s, York.
Bishop Egan said priorities for the centre in Bournemouth would include serving the needy – a food bank is already in place in the parish – and offering sacramental support, with the church open throughout the day for Eucharistic adoration, Mass, Confessions and other prayers and liturgies.
Bishop Egan said: “The diocese has areas of real deprivation and poverty. There are immigrants and foreign nationals from Eastern Europe and overseas, as well as university and college students living far away from home. This is a pastoral situation that is urgent. It impels action.”
He said: “We need to engage with those who have not yet met the Lord Jesus in Person nor taken to heart the salvation and eternal life He offers. More than ever we need today to be confident and clear in witnessing to the Person of Jesus Christ and the truths of the Catholic faith, in order to help people find the Way to authentic humanism and happiness. This is why I am delighted by this new project beginning at Sacred Heart parish.”
In an article for this week’s issue of the Catholic Herald Bishop Egan said: “The hope is that the new Oratory will enhance greatly the Church’s mission in Bournemouth, making it a centre of excellence for liturgy, formation and pastoral care.”