Dominican Priories: Oxford (Blackfriars Hall)

Dominican Priories: Oxford (Blackfriars Hall)

In a previous post, Br Oliver explained how Blackfriars in Oxford exists as a Priory, as well as a home to the Studium. Blackfriars is also home to Blackfriars Hall, which is a Permanent Private Hall (PPH) of the University of Oxford. Like the more familiar colleges of Oxford, such as Christ Church and New College, Blackfriars Hall can admit students for degrees from the University. PPHs are generally much smaller than colleges both in physical size and number of personnel, and tend to have a more religious character.

Blackfriars Hall was established in 1994 on 1st January. We Dominicans were involved in the life of the University long before this date (though admittedly with a substantial hiatus in between; but that was not our fault!). After our first priory in Oxford was established in 1221, Dominicans very quickly took up high-ranking positions within the University’s theology faculty.
The Aula at Blackfriars, which is where most lectures take place
The Hall offers an intimate and friendly academic setting for mature undergraduate and postgraduate students, who have the unique opportunity to be taught, particularly in the case of theology and philosophy students, by the brethren, and to study alongside the student friars, as well as the other religious and non-religious students in formation as part of the Studium.
Before being accepted by the Dominicans, I was a postgraduate student in the Hall reading for my Master’s in theology. It was a period in which I was privileged to have had the opportunity to get to know the brethren better and to see a little closer the life they lived, which without question contributed to my wanting to be a Dominican friar. The Hall serves as a special bridge between the religious world of the friars and the secular environment of a modern university, thus existing as a very unique and important form of outreach for us as friars in the English context.

Top image: Plaque outside Blackfriars highlighting its existence as a Priory, a Studium, and a Hall of the University 

Fr Joseph Bailham works in the parish of Our Lady of the Rosary and Saint Dominic, London. He is Promoter of Vocations and of the Dominican Youth Movement for the English Province.