Tag Archives: Ampleforth Abbey

A North Yorkshire Interlude – the Catholic Union Summer Gathering 2014

The Summer Gathering this year took place at Ampleforth Abbey in Yorkshire.  Here, Robert RIgby, Chairman of the CU and an Old Amplefordian, shares his reflections on the weekend:

This year’s Catholic Union summer gathering took place at Ampleforth from Friday 25 – Sunday 27 July 2014. It was attended by some 25 Catholic Union members with a good mix of members from both the north and south of the country. This was the first time in many years that this hasevent moved beyond the Home Counties and judging by the reaction, it will not be long before it once again is taken into the regions.

Ampleforth provided a perfect backdrop – allowing both the formal side of the occasion to proceed which included discussions on the strategy of the CU and issues of the day, as well as a spiritual element ensuring members could tap into the monastic offices of the day including Matins at 6am….

The main business was carried out on Saturday 26 July with the conference getting off to a spiritual and thought provoking start with Fr Terence Richardson OSB, the Prior, providing a talk , The Prophetic Voice  The Prior highlighted the prophet as one who sees the truth and tells the truth and referred to the criticism of the current church as a sign of health. The presence of the prophetic in the secular world is a sign of a healthy society.

Lord Brennan, attending his final conference as President, (he steps down in November after 12 years at the helm) provided his usual enlightening take on the issues of the day, as well as those affecting the CU. These are momentous times he said, life is changing fast and the challenges we face are complicated but not insurmountable. He talked about three key issues – Parliament & Public Life, Society Today and the Future and offered some wise council on how the CU should position itself going forward as well as ideas on increasing our membership base in an ever secular and demanding world.

In the afternoon members engaged in an open discussion on the role of the CU in today’s society. Robert Rigby, Chairman set the scene by providing members with feedback on a meeting he had held with Cardinal Nichols in April. Dr Tony Cole, Chairman of the Parliamentary Affairs Committee, summarised some of the key issues facing Catholics today and issues either currently debated or about to be on the agenda in Parliament. Both these talks set off a chain of lively discussions which also included Faith Schools and the ever increasing attack being waged against them.

The day ended with a jovial dinner attended by Fr Christopher Gorst, Sub Prior.

On Sunday members attended High Mass, before enjoying a final get together over coffee in the main hall with parishioners and members of the wider local community around Ampleforth.

Robert Rigby

28th July 2014


Robert Rigby, Fr Terence (Prior), Lord Brennan, John Barrie

Robert Rigby, Fr Terence (Prior), Lord Brennan, John Barrie

Members of the CU at Ampleforth

Members of the CU at Ampleforth




Summer Gathering 2014 – a reminder

CU Chairman Robert Rigby writes:


I am contacting you to remind you we are only one month away from our Summer Gathering which this year is being held at Ampleforth College/Abbey, Yorkshire from 25th-27th July.

It is not too late to apply, so if you have been considering joining us then please make contact with the CU office as soon as possible.  We need to finalise numbers with Ampleforth by 15th July.

The Summer Gathering is one of the highlights of the CU year and is a wonderful opportunity for members to interact and engage – this year it has the added bonus of being in the stunning, yet tranquil setting of North Yorkshire.

I very much hope to see you at Ampleforth next month.

Robert Rigby


16th June 2014

Easter Message from the Chairman 2014

Pope Benedict XVI wrote ‘Every day Christians must face a struggle similar to the one that Christ underwent in the dessert of Judea where for forty days he was tempted …. it is a spiritual battle one that involves the whole of the person and demands attentive and constant watchfulness’.  I think these words are apt at this time of the year and remind us that we all struggle during daily life especially when it comes to taking on extra responsibilities and duties.

The momentum around the work of the Catholic Union is gathering pace as our Committees, especially the newly formed Membership & Fundraising Committee and the Education  Committee start to kick in on the tremendous work they are doing.  We are building the blocks for the future.  Plans are already underway to expand our working partnership with the Church at both parish and Diocesan level.  More about this initiative will be posted in due course and discussed at the Summer Gathering.

The Catholic Union Charitable Trust is to be formally launched shortly, helping in our fundraising activity as it will allow us to claim the Gift Aid back on any donations received.  The CUCT will be the umbrella under which most of our seminar/lecture programmes sit, including our educational seminars and the Craigmyle Lecture which this year is on 14 October, and will be given by Ann Widdecombe DSG

We have begun and continue to build closer collaboration with Good Works, a small group whose principles are to create a framework for business activity, by looking at the value of people in the business environment around the Common Good helping to promote businesses in a broader context as an active body of the community.  They have a programme of seminars promoting the tenets of Catholic Social Teaching in the workplace in collaboration with the CUCT.  This is a good starting point for the wider range of seminars that the CUCT will be organising over the coming year.

Our President, Lord Brennan, is stepping down in November after giving many years service and a special dinner in his honour has been arranged for 10 November at the RAF Club, Piccadilly.  This dinner will also offer a great opportunity to invite prospective members of the Catholic Union, so I would encourage you to not only put this date in your diary but also look around at friends, fellow parishioners, colleagues and family members who you feel could potentially become members of the CU; we need to increase our membership if we are to grow and become more influential.

Finally, this year’s Summer Gathering is travelling north to Ampleforth Abbey (25 – 27 July) which I am hoping will attract our CU members who are located in the north of England. More details can be found on our website and the weekend will offer us an opportunity to recharge and reinvigorate not only our Catholic Union batteries but our spiritual ones as well. As we will be in a Benedictine setting, I thought it appropriate to sign off this Easter message with words from the Rule of St Benedict who said ‘ And let us be assured that it is not in saying a great deal that we shall be heard (Matt 6:7), but in purity of heart…..’

I wish you and your families a very happy and holy Easter.

Robert Rigby


London, 13th April, Palm Sunday, 2014

Catholic Union Summer Gathering July 2014

Ampleforth - the Abbey Church from the Valley

Ampleforth Abbey Church – consecrated 1962

Outline information and a booking form are now available for this year’s Summer Gathering which will take place at Ampleforth Abbey, by kind permission of the Abbot and Community from the evening of Friday 25th July until the morning of Sunday 27th July.  Further details are available below in both PDF and Word formats:

Ampleforth Summer Gathering Information and Booking Form


Growing Connections – the Catholic Union and Ampleforth

As announced elsewhere on the site, the Summer Gathering in July 2014 will be held over a weekend at Ampleforth Abbey in North Yorkshire.  As a prelude to this, the most recent edition of the  Ampleforth Diary, published earlier this month, carries a profile of both the Union and current Chairman, Robert Rigby.

Ampleforth Diary December 2013

Further details about the Summer Gathering will be circulated in the New Year.