Archbishop of Westminster

Cardinal Vincent Installed as First Chancellor of St Mary's University

Cardinal Vincent was installed as the inaugural Chancellor of St Mary's University, Twickenham, on 27 May 2015 during a special service of Vespers at Westminster Cathedral.

During the Rite of Installation, Bishop Richard Moth, Chair of Governors of the University, handed the seal of the university to Cardinal Vincent, as he inaugurated, admitted and installed him as the first Chancellor.

In turn, Cardinal Vincent accepted an Oath of Office from Vice-Chancellor Francis Campbell and entrusted to him the Seal of the University, 'in full confidence that you will lead this University Community in the impartial search for truth that brings light and meaning to the relationship between faith and reason'. 

In the homily which followed, Cardinal Vincent recalled the 'remarkable visit' of Pope Benedict to the University in 2010, during which the Holy Father met with educators, an assembly of children and leaders from all sectors of society.

'This visit, and this person, Pope Benedict, stands, for me, as a strong sign of the path still to be followed by St Mary's, in depth of endeavour, in vision of education and it wholeness of life,' said the Cardinal.

Cardinal Vincent also spoke of his own father who attended St Mary's College, as it was then known. He spoke of his father as someone whose 'joy and calling lay in standing in front of a class of "little nippers" and seeing their minds and lives slowly opening to the wonders of life and learning.'

The Cardinal pointed to the words of St Paul to Timothy: 'Accept the strength that comes from the grace of Christ.' He said, 'I hope those words long remain at the centre of your lives, both individually and as an institution. You have seen your Vice-Chancellor receive a very formal mandate and give a very solemn undertaking. This is indeed a mandate of the Church, but, just as importantly, it is an invitation to rely on someone who is beyond all doubt and defeat, the one alone who has conquered the evil and death which is written into our world.'

Speaking of this historic day in the life of the institution, Bishop Richard called it 'a day of great joy'. He explained that the Cardinal's installation as Chancellor 'underlines, in a most powerful way, our place in the Diocese of Westminster and our commitment to strengthening and developing St Mary's University as a Catholic institution of higher education'. 

Vice-Chancellor Francis Campbell said: 'Today is a time to celebrate at several levels; to acknowledge great debts to those who have gone before us and to imagine a successful and vibrant St Mary's of the future.'  

He went on to suggest that 'we rededicate ourselves to those immutable Christian values of love of neighbour and generosity of spirit' which should be combined with 'a passionate pursuit of excellence in teaching and research'.

Founded in 1850 by Cardinal Wiseman and L'Abbe Jean-Marie de Lamennais with a community of six students at Brook Green House in Hammersmith, St Mary's University now occupies a 50-acre site in Strawberry Hill. On 23 January 2014, the Privy Council conferred full university status on St Mary's.

The full text of Cardinal Vincent's homily can be found here.

Photo credit: mazur/catholicnews.org.

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