Here Father Stephen answers questions posed by members of the chaplaincy team:
What was your first reaction when you were asked to be our chaplain?
It was a bit like picking up where I had left off – I had been a secondary school chaplain in my last parish for 14 years – but it is always a little bit daunting starting in a new place with new people. That is also exciting too and it has been good slowly getting to know some of the staff and pupils. There are still many I have not met and parts of the school I have not seen! Bishop Ullathorne has a good reputation and it is a privilege to be part of that.
Have you any previous experience of chaplaincy in a secondary school?
Catholic secondary schools have been a large part of my priesthood. I am a qualified RE teacher and taught for six years both before and after I became a priest. I was a secondary school governor for 13 years, a chaplain for 15 and spent 10 years as a part time tutor on an RE teacher training course in Birmingham. I have been involved in secondary education in a variety of ways!
How do you see the role of chaplaincy with us?
The chaplaincy is not just me. The religious and pastoral life of a school is too big and should be too good for one person to run it all. The priest in school is there to provide the sacraments, of course, but not only that. He is a visible reminder of the school’s Catholic character and ethos and is a support and encouragement to all who are part of it. He is there to walk with everyone on their Christian journey, however far along it they are - or are not. A lot of that is simply being around and being available.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I was born in Oxford and my parents still live in Oxfordshire. I read theology at Oxford University. I became a Catholic in 1994 after being a minister in the Church of England, working in the Black Country on the other side of Birmingham. I qualified as a secondary school RE teacher and taught in the Catholic secondary school in Nuneaton for six years, both before and after I became a priest. My ordination was in 1998. I arrived at St Thomas More parish straight after Christmas 2014. I enjoy modern history (I nearly taught history but that is another story), old films, music and France.
When did you become aware that you had a vocation to priesthood?
It did not come to me as a sudden discovery. Things people had said and things that had happened to me made a voice inside me start suggesting that being a priest was what God wanted me to be.
What are the advantages of being a married priest with a family?
The house is rarely empty and there is usually someone to talk to and we share the chores. Lots of people have demanding jobs, work unusual hours or get called out at odd times.
Welcome to Father Stephen
Our new school chaplain, Father Stephen Day, joined us this for Christmas 2017. He has been involved extensively in the school with weekly masses and reflections. Also, as part of our spiritual preparation for Advent, he led our penitential services for all of our key stage 3 students. He was joined by four other priests from the deanery who heard confessions throughout the day.