The Christian Heritage Centre

Media Video

Catholicism & Contemporary Culture: Recordings

Friday 4th August 2023

Catholicism & Contemporary Culture

What is Truth?

Dr Andrew Beards

Opening the Catholicism & Contemporary Culture course, Dr Andrew Beards examines how the Catholic and secular worldviews define truth, and the wider consequences of this for our society 

Click here to view a copy of the presentation.

Approximate running time: 50 minutes 

Truth in the Public Square

Dr Andrew Beards

In this second lecture, Dr Andrew Beards examines the difference between objective and subjective truth and asks where these worldviews have their origins.

Click here to view a copy of the presentation.

Approximate running time: 60 minutes

Faith & the Arts: Reflecting the True, the Good & the Beautiful

Dr Caroline Farey

Dr Caroline Farey discuses the foundations of objective truth, goodness, and beauty, and how we can learn to discover this in the arts. 

Click here to view a copy of the presentation

Approximate running time: 55 minutes


The New Atheists: Faith Without Reason

Dr Andrew Beards

In this fourth lecture, Dr Andrew Beards examines the routes of ‘New Atheism’, its decline, and how Catholics can deal with it through apologetics.

Click here to view a copy of the presentation.

Approximate running time: 60 minutes

Philosophical Foundations for Sacramentality

Dr Caroline Farey

In this lecture, Dr Caroline Farey discusses the theological and philosophical backdrop to sacramentality and how this relates to the wider world. 

Approximate running time: 55 minutes


The Church and the Eucharist: One Faith, One Body

Stefan Kaminski

Stefan Kaminski explains how the Catholic teaching on the Eucharist relates to the Church and her four marks.

Click here to view a copy of the presentation.

Approximate running time: 60 minutes

Societal Truth: Discerning the Common Good

Dr Andrew Beards

Dr Andrew Beards asks what are the principles of natural law and how can they guide society away from the pitfalls of postmodernity and subjectivity. 

Click here to view a copy of the presentation.

Approximate running time: 40 minutes

About the Faith & Reason series

The Faith & Reason series is made up of three courses that provide a systematic overview of the fundamental themes of the Catholic faith. At the same time, these are approached in the context of contemporary culture and thinking, in order to engage in a dialogue that is relevant today.

Head to our Faith & Reason page for more information

Articles Media

Icon Writing: My journey from Syria to Byzantium

Friday 7th July 2023

The CHC @ The Catholic Universe

Icon Writing: My journey from Syria to Byzantium

Schaher Rhomaei

Schaher Rhomaei shares how he began to explore the extraordinary art of ‘icon writing’ -and how icons can be a ‘visual Gospel’ to inspire a deeper and more profound faith.

My first memory of icons takes me back to my tender years at St John the Baptist Church; a small Byzantine Greek Melkite church in Ma’arouneh, which means ‘small cave’ in Aramaic. This mountainous suburb of Damascus is a place of natural biblical and spiritual beauty. It was Elijah’s last abode before ascending into Heaven.

From this place and time, I began a journey of reflected prayer through the beauty of icons: an encounter with the Divine. One icon that stands out for me in particular was a wooden panel depicting Our Lady tenderly holding her Son on her lap. Somehow, the aura of mystery surrounding this icon created a sacred space for contemplating the striking image of the humble Mother and the Saviour child, which remained with me throughout my childhood.

The word ‘Icon’ comes from the Ancient Greek (εἰκών/eikṓn) meaning ‘image or resemblance.’ The term was, in fact, coined by Plato, in relation to his theory of knowledge. According to the philosopher, real knowledge is to be found in the intelligible world of Ideas, which is reflected to some degree, as per a shadow, in the physical world. Likewise, in Christian art, the word “icon” has become synonymous with the depiction of divine subjects and the sacred figures of those in the heavenly world. Icons thus not only communicate a profound and sacred significance, but also create a powerful sense of prayerfulness.

Possible depiction of Jesus Tile from Dura-Europos excavations (Yale University Art Gallery)

Icons Hold Deep Spiritual Meaning

In the Eastern Church generally and the Syrian Church particularly, icons are an essential pillar of the Christian faith, holding deep spiritual meaning. They serve as windows through which one can approach the Creator, not only by praying and prostrating before Him. but also by seeking help or forgiveness. Indeed, the Eastern Church understands icons as a visual gospel, proclaiming in colours and images all that is uttered in words and written in syllables (cf. Council of Constantinople)

According to historians, Christian art originated and developed in Syria before this ancient, original, and spiritual artform was exported to Egypt and Mesopotamia, and then to the wider world. The journey from Syria to Egypt to
Byzantium gave birth to different styles of icons: ‘Syrian’ in Syria, ‘Coptic’ in Egypt and in Byzantium ‘the Byzantine art.’ The latter describes the process of creating icons as one of ‘writing’ rather than ‘painting’ – an iconographer is a ‘writer’ not a ‘painter’ – and we ‘read’ an icon rather than view or ‘see’ it. 

At Dura-Europos near the Euphrates River in the Syrian Desert lie two living ‘witnesses’ to early iconography. First, there is the baptismal room of a private house that became the first home church, with murals painted in 232-56 AD, decades before Emperor Constantine recognised Christianity. Then there is a synagogue dating from the third century, with brightly painted walls depicting famous scenes from the Old Testament. Although the artistry of Dura-Europos might seem simple in nature and battered due to age, fighting, destruction and the like, yet it is astounding in its beauty and depth. 

The location of Dura-Europos in modern-day Syria

Those depictions emerged from the early Christian imagination, from a faith alive with wonder. They give us a precious insight into the emotions and desires of those isolated faithful on their early journey. It was their way of reaching out to express their faith
with confidence. Their belief and trust in Christ were represented quite differently compared to that of, for example, the Christian art of the Renaissance, where great emphasis was placed on an aesthetic and grandiose depiction

Another possible depcition of Jesus from Dura-Europos

A Contemplative Experience

My journey into icon writing began during what seemed to be an eternal lockdown. This period of transition and discernment drew me deeper into exploring this extraordinary art. Initially, as part of a reflection on art and spirituality to celebrate Eastertide, I wrote my first icon, ‘Christ is the Light.’ Following that and whilst celebrating Pentecost, another icon followed: ‘Mary in the Cenacle.’ Both were written in a style that resembled that of the early Christians: simple and expressive. The aim was to understand the mystery of Christ and His Mother’s being as they reach out in love, keeping the light aflame in our hearts. I envisaged them as radiant, humble, and modestly dressed with an expression of intensity and invitation. Out of this contemplative experience, two images conceived and set in darkness emerged, of such humanity and yet of such majesty.

In the following year, I completed more icons using oil, but it was not until this year that I embarked on a new journey: that of exploring the Byzantine style using pigments and egg tempera. Drawn by the spirituality of Master Vladislav Andrejev at the Prosopon School of Iconology in the US, I took part in an icon writing course at the Christian Heritage Centre at Stonyhurst, facilitated by his Andrejev’s son, Nikita, who is a master in his own right. The theme of the workshop was ‘Our Lady of Tenderness.’ I found the whole experience a complex piece of utmost beauty and delicacy.

To save time, the wooden panels were already prepared. The first stage was applying the gold leaf onto the halos, then the initial underpaint tone, which covers the faces and other parts of the body, and the application of a dark yellow/green pigment called Sankir, thus creating the shadow areas. Here, shadows are not of a physical source as such, but rather ethereal. Similarly, the light areas in an icon indicate the divine nature and not a reflection of the sun. Stage by stage, the image builds as other layers are applied, always lighter than the one before. Patience and thoroughness are required throughout the whole process; from laying the gold leaf, getting the right measurements of pigment and egg tempera, to the right brush strokes. Each step is crucial and has its own logic, as well as consequences if not done in a methodical way. I must admit that, unlike my previous work, this experience was not merely painting, but building.

Taking A Leap Of Faith

We were fifteen people attending this course, some writing their first, second, or even seventh icon. It was my first workshop and although quite apprehensive about the process and outcome, I took a leap of faith and dived into exploring this wonderful art form, allowing the Holy Spirit to guide and inspire me as I went along. It was touching to see how some of the other experienced writers, aside from the tutor, mentored the beginners in their struggles. They gently offered advice and even helped to salvage areas that at times seemed almost like a battlefield.

My piece was no exception. I faced a mess right at the start because I applied too much clay, which is used as an adhesive for gold leaf. It was too wet and this meant that the leaf would not stick to the halos and kept peeling. My thanks go to David, a fellow participant who kindly rectified the catastrophe at once. His meticulous application of gold leaf and the right pressure did wonders and was like a sign of light and hope that helped me to go on.

In contemplating this recent experience, three profound insights surfaced for me. The first relates to how the harmony and symmetry of composition must be visible everywhere in the icon, from the poise of the figures to the flow of drapery. These carefully-drawn and harmonious straight lines come to life as flowing lines of Divine energy. Secondly, the role of luminosity in an icon is suggestive of the Holy Spirit within the subject, constantly renewing and creating life. And lastly, the words of my little cousin still echo in my head today, as she sat next to me in that very same church of St John the Baptist, and whispered with a slight giggle and pure innocence: “This is you and your mother….” Indeed, Mary’s presence in icons conveys a unique sense of motherhood. She is a source of inspiration, hope, comfort, and support to those in need of her help.

Mary in the Cenacle


For the Christian Heritage Centre’s iconography course, visit

Courses Events

Ancient Byzantine Iconography Course [residential course]

Ancient Byzantine Iconography Course
[residential course]

4th - 10th June 2024

Offering two separate icons and tracks for novices and experienced iconographers

A 7-day icon-writing course led by Deacon Nikita Andrejev, of the Prosopon School of Iconology

Over the 7 days of this iconography course, students will develop the contemplative practice of icon writing using the ancient art of liquid egg tempera technique.

The teaching of the technical craft of icon writing will be accompanied by the study of the theological world view from which the practice emerged. The practical demonstrations and direction will therefore be framed by a discussion of the symbolic meaning of the iconic forms, of the materials and of the processes involved.

Surrounded by peace and beautiful scenery, this week-long immersion into an ancient form of prayer and the accompanying technique serves as an excellent opportunity to refresh and recreate your soul in prayer and a warm community environment.

“I don’t know of any other course at such a high standard, with plenty of theological & spiritual input”

“Nikita is an incredibly inspiring teacher”

“Wonderful ambience, stunning setting, warm welcome”

St John the Baptist iconOur course welcomes both novices to the Prosopon technique and more experienced iconographers alike.

Novices (less than 4 icons written in the Prosopon technique) will write an icon of either St Michael or St Gabriel (archangels).

Experienced participants (at least 4 icons written in the Prosopon technique) will write an icon of St John the Baptist.

The theological and spiritual input will be given to the class as a whole.

Separate demonstrations for each step of the two icons will be offered to the two groups separately.

The novice group will benefit from the support of an additional tutor and supervised skills practice.

For years Nikita Andreyev apprenticed to his father, Vladislav Andreyev, complimenting this experience with postgraduate theological studies in Paris and the United States.

As a member of the faculty team of the Prosopon School of Iconology, Nikita has contributed to the development of unique teaching methods. The resulting workshop experience enables participants to create and grow through their icon making, developing spiritually through each icon.

Since its founding in the 1980s, the School has rediscovered lost techniques of the ancient art of liquid egg tempera and has helped ignite a renewed interest in icons across the USA and the western world.

                                                  For more information about Deacon Nikita Andrejev, please click here.

Theodore House offers a wonderful venue for icon painting. With abundant natural light from the glass roof panels flooding the atrium, this is an inspiring venue for icon painting. The tranquil and beautiful surroundings of the Stonyhurst estate offer an ideally peaceful setting. The first floor gallery, which gives access to the comfortable, en-suite bedrooms, affords a birds-eye view of the workshop below. Guests will also enjoy the comfortable recreational spaces and a beautifully lanscaped garden.

For more information about Theodore House, please click here.

Classes start in the morning of Tuesday 4th June. Residential participants are welcome to arrive from 6pm on Monday 3rd June, with dinner being included that evening.

Classes end in the afternoon of Monday 10th June, with departures from approx. 4pm.

We are conveniently situated an hour’s drive from Manchester Airport, which is well-connected internationally.

Once you have booked your flights, please provide us with your flight details. 

We will aim to arrange either a pick-up or shared transport with other course participants, either from Manchester Airport itself, or from Preston train station, which has a direct connection to Manchester airport.

Bed and breakfast for extra nights around the course may be be booked at a discounted rate, subject to availability.

Full board* & lodging, single room: £940 p.p.

Full board* & lodging, twin room: £840 p.p.

Non-residential, full board (lunch and dinner*): £660 p.p.

A non-refundable deposit of £250 will be required upon booking.

Balance of course fees will be due 1 month before the course, but may be spread over several installments prior to this date.

*Please note: all meals on this course are fish or vegetarian, as is the custom in this work.

“It was an amazing experience”

“It is always a privilege and a humble experience to be part of an icon painting class; but it is particularly with this class that I learnt the most and had the most change in myself”

Please register below (deposit payment required):


Blog Media

Igor Sikorsky’s Search for Faith

2nd June 2023

Where is God? Igor Sikorsky's Search for Faith

A spiritually unconscious or dead man would be in the position of a rushing air­liner with an unconscious or dead crew in the control cabin – Igor Sikorsky

“БОГА НЕТ!” (There is no God!) proudly proclaims a Soviet poster from 1975. Above, a cosmonaut looks out on the heavens, across which are countless galaxies, towering over the backward churches. It is a sentiment that now forms a dominant part of public discourse across the West, where religious belief is ridiculed and presented as incompatible with reason. But for the Russian scientist Igor Sikorsky, science had far from disapproved existence of God. 

Born in 1889, Sikorsky took inspiration from the Wright brothers’ first flight to enter the infant aviation industry. He established a successful manufacturing business in Russia, before fleeing to the US in the aftermath of the 1917 Revolution. He spent the rest of his life in America developing what is now a multi-billion dollar company.

Throughout his life, Sikorsky was awestruck by the scientific accomplishments made during the 20th century . “Aeronautics”, he argued, “was neither a science nor an industry. It was a miracle”. The aviation industry was still in its infancy when he began manufacturing planes: it required a true leap of faith to make his dreams possible. When asked by a journalist if he had seen God whilst ascending to the sky, Sikorsky replied that he had not seen Him, but he had felt God’s presence. Today, such comments might seem backwards. But as a pioneering aeronautical engineer, he could hardly be described as such.

Sikorsky is credited with developing the first commercially successful helicopter

Science can illustrate the great wonders of the universe. However, Sikorsky was acutely aware that some of the accomplishments done in the name of science were deeply troubling. This did not come from science, but it was a symptom of a culture that was jettisoning Christianity. The consequences, Sikorsky warned, would prove fatal, arguing that a man without faith was like the unconscious pilot of a plane. Although technically flying, he would be hurtling towards destruction.

"There is no God!" - a Soviet poster from 1971

This comment was made against the backdrop of the Second World War and under the cloud of the Atomic Age, a time where mass destruction loomed large. However, these comments ring true today in our postmodern age. Despite all the scientific accomplishments of the West, a moral crisis of being and purpose runs through the nerves of our society. Human reason is capable of great triumphs, but it becomes distorted when society has no place for faith.

Remedying this is not easy. However, the scientist warned against entirely ditching scientific enquiry and reason. Instead, he proposed that humanity must rediscover the power of “spiritual wisdom”, putting reason not as the end of human existence, but as a means to even greater truth. “The very first men to find and accept Christ were wealthy alien scientist astronomers,” wrote Sikorsky. The point is clear: science can point us towards God.

This brings us back to the beginning. Both the Atheist and the Christian look into space and see stars, planets, and galaxies; but arrive at opposite conclusions. The Atheist sees the stars and the earth, but that is all. They are the end of all existence. Sikorsky looked upon the same sky but saw something different. Reason led him to see that the universe was created by God, full of wonder and beauty. Just like the three astronomers visiting the infant Christ, he found that reason is no barrier to faith.

If you are interested in learning more about the place of faith in contemporary society, please visit our Faith & Reason course page. 

Note, this post draws on the following article: A Scientist’s Orthodox Faith’, The British Association of Iconographers Review, Issue 71, 2023

Clergy Events Retreats

Renewing a Priestly Spirituality

Renewing a Priestly Spirituality
[silent clergy retreat]

Monday 18th - Friday 22nd September [2023]

A retreat focusing on key themes for a healthy, priestly spirituality

The retreat will be preached by the Canons of the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest

The retreat will offer a series of talks addressing the following themes, with the intention of nourishing some of the fundamentals of priestly life and spirituality:

  • The Sacred Heart as model for Priests
  • The Priesthood of Our Lord and the priesthood of the ordained minister
  • The Prayer of the Priest
  • The Priest and his Guardian Angel
  • The role of Priestly Silence
  • Priesthood and Friendship
  • Our Lady as Mother of Priests
  • Secular and religious clergy, deacons and seminarians welcome!
  • The retreat will be preached, with opportunities for confession.
  • Clergy are welcome to celebrate Mass individually at their own time, or to concelebrate, using both Theodore House Oratory and St Peter’s Church.
  • Daily Holy Hour and Compline.

Several of the Canons of the ICKSP will contribute different talks on the above themes as part of this retreat.

Canon Vianney Poucin de Wouilt will be the principal preacher and will be present throughout the retreat. He currently serves at the Church of Ss. Peter and Paul and St Philomena in New Brighton, before which he was based at the Shrine Church of St Walburge’s, Preston.

Canon Amaury Montjean, Canon Gwenael Cristofoli and Canon Michael Weiner will also contribute talks to the retreat over the five days.

Theodore House offers a wonderful venue for any retreat. The tranquil and beautiful surroundings of the Stonyhurst estate offer a peaceful setting and endless opportunities for walks.

All accommodation is en-suite, with comfortable facilities and a beautifully lanscaped garden.

For more information about Theodore House, please click here.

Arrivals are welcome on the Monday from 1pm for a 3pm start.

Departures on Friday are from 3pm.


£360 (includes single, en-suite room and full board)

Please register below (deposit payment required):


Blog Media

The Cross of Good Hope

7th April, 2023

The Cross of Good Hope

At the start of the Easter Triduum, the folly of the Cross stands as testament to the power of God

Christ’s Crucifixion brings us to the brink of the central tenet of our faith. It is the final test of the claims made by the person of Jesus. At the cross, there are only two options left: either death swallows up Jesus or death is finally defeated. Of the mocking crowds with their high priests and Jesus’ few, faithful followers, only one or the other group can be vindicated. All the expectations, controversies, passion and hopes that surfaced as a result of the teachings and miracles of Jesus are concentrated in this moment of truth. Vengeance, sorrow, hope, disillusion, belief, unbelief, all meet at the Cross, each waiting to be justified or dispersed.

However, what takes place on the Cross and beyond is not immediately accessible to those who stood at its foot some two thousand years ago, as indeed it remains a profound mystery for every Christian since. It is an event that moves beyond human word and comprehension. “Every word is silenced before this… the Father’s hour, when the eternal triune plan is executed,” says von Balthasar.

It is precisely the Word, the only necessary Word, that speaks in the action that begins on the Cross.  The Cross will verify, through the glory of the Resurrection, the fullest revelation of God in His incarnate Word; and in doing so, it will stand as the final word of God’s love for humanity, in the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world.

The Crucifixion, by Andrea Mantegna

Yet in this action, the Word nailed to the Cross utters seven, spoken words, as recorded across the four Gospels. Spoken by the Son, these words draw in all time and embrace it within the history of faith. On the one hand, they recall and fulfil the Father’s Word as revealed in the Old Testament, words spoken in earlier centuries, but overlooked and forgotten. On the other, they promise the new life in the Spirit that the Church will offer mankind for the duration of this world, and the future glory of eternal life.

Thus, to use Benedict XVI’s language, the word of God and event become deeply interwoven at the Cross. In the eternal nature of the Word, human events are joined to a greater and timeless mystery. As Christ hangs on the Cross, the Christian sees the culmination of the history of faith, the master plan enacted by the Holy Trinity in and through the vagaries of human history. The Christian sees on the Cross the Logos that gave creation itself its very logic, that overlooked the fall of our first parents, that was promised in ever-increasing relief over millennia of covenants and prophecies.

More than this, in the Son of Man lifted up on the Cross, the Christian sees the gateway to the end of all history, as intended by God: the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. The Cross unlocks the Divine promise that will close all earthly history and bring the history of faith to fulfilment in the new Jerusalem. Through whatever events Providence allows this world to come to its end, our personal stories will continue through the veil of that apocalypse and into the Light that will reveal their true significance. Through the Cross, shines that Light.

By Stefan Kaminski, Director


Walk for Life @Stonyhurst


Walk for Life @Stonyhurst

Monday 8th May 2023, 2-6pm

in aid of

Join in to witness to the sanctity of life!

Join us on the Coronation Bank Holiday for a sponsored walk along the Tolkien Trail to raise money for Right to Life.

Show that life, at all its stages from conception to natural death, is sacred and to be cherished.

Pray for the sanctity of life to be upheld in our society.

Raise money for Right to Life, one of the UK’s foremost pro-life charities.

And finally, enjoy a day out in the beautiful Ribble Valley!

Traveling from further afield? Enjoy a 10% discount on B&B accommodation at Theodore House.

Email quoting RightToLife

In partnership wtih

Walk a section of the Tolkien Trail

Gather at 2pm at Theodore House, Stonyhurst

2:15pm speech

2:30pm depart Theodore House on a shortened version of the Tolkien Trail

4:30-5pm return to Theodore House

Marshals and a rest stop will service the route.


Adoration and Benediction

5:15pm at St Peter's Church, Stonyhurst

Presided by Rt. Rev. John Arnold, Bishop of Salford.

Reflection by The Lord Alton of Liverpool.

Eucharistic Adoration will also take place through from 2:30pm throughout the duration of the walk, for anyone who is unable to walk but wishes to accompany the event in prayer. Please contact us if you are able to commit to part or all of this time.


5:45pm at Theodore House, Stonyhurst

Join us for tea, coffee and cake in Theodore House afterwards

Christian Leadership Formation programme

Register below, download a sponsorship form and start collecting!

Sponsorship form

Events Retreats

Why God became man [weekend retreat]

A pre-Advent weekend retreat

Why God became man:
Meaning & Consequences of the Incarnation

Friday 24th - Sunday 26th November 2023

“For God has not only made us out of nothing; but He gave us freely, by the Grace of the Word, a life in correspondence with God. ”

St Athanasius

The Christian mystery of Redemption starts with the great Feast of Christmas, when “the Word became Flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14).

Join us for a weekend retreat just before the beginning of Advent, to give this season of preparation a clear focus on the meaning of Christmas.

Preached by Fr de Malleray, FSSP, the Masses during this retreat will be celebrated in the Extraordinary Form.

The retreat is structured around six talks, with time for personal reflection and for socials.

The retreat is framed by morning and evening prayer, Mass, Adoration and opportunities for confession.

Fr Armand de Malleray began his ministry in the Southwark Archdiocese in 2001. He has been giving clergy retreats at various venues in England and abroad for over two decades. As rector of St Mary’s Shrine, he is based in the Liverpool Archdiocese. He is the author of the following books:

Theodore House offers a wonderful venue for any residential event. The tranquil and beautiful surroundings of the Stonyhurst estate offer a peaceful setting with endless opportunities for walks. Guests will enjoy the comfortable recreational spaces and a beautifully lanscaped garden.

For more information about Theodore House, please click here.

  • Arrivals from 5pm for a 6pm start on Friday
  • Departures from 3:30pm on Sunday

Single room:  £180 per person*

Twin room (sharing): £135 per person*

Non-residential: £90 per person (includes lunches and dinners)

*Cost includes full board from Friday dinner to Sunday lunch inclusive.


Events Retreats

A Great Mystery [marriage enrichment retreat]

A weekend marriage enrichment retreat

"A Great Mystery":
Man and Wife as an image of Christ and His Church

Friday 19th - Sunday 21st May 2023

Discover the beauty and significance
of the Catholic vision for marriage

“There is a strong need in the Church and in the world to rediscover the meaning and value of the conjugal union between a man and a woman, on which the family is founded”

Pope Francis, Address to the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, 27th January 2023

Take time out to discover the value that the Church places on human love in the marital covenant, and its significance as an icon of the love of Christ for His Church. In a society that continues to experience high failure rates in marriages, the Church’s Sacrament offers a foundation for the possibility of a lasting and loving covenant, built on an authentic understanding of masculinity and femininity.

The retreat will address the following themes:

  • What does our culture today say about the human person?
  • God’s plan or our plan? The meaning of human nature and love
  • The Rupture between the Sexes: Original Sin and its consequences for relationships
  • “A Great Mystery”: Man and Wife as an image of Christ and His Church
  • Masculinity misconstrued: A Christian model of manhood
  • Equality in difference: Building an authentic femininity

The retreat is structured around six talks, with opportunities for discussion in small groups, for personal reflection and for socials.

The retreat is framed by morning and evening prayer, Mass, Adoration and opportunities for confession.

Fr. David Marsden is a qualified clinical psychologist, spiritual director and experienced retreat leader.
He has worked as a psychologist and formation tutor in two national seminaries and expresses a passion
for accompanying and mentoring young men into living the fullness of their Christian vocation. He
completed an MA in Theology at the Maryvale Institute in 2016 with the title of his dissertation being
‘The Priest as Spiritual Father.’ He has written a Theology of the Body (TOB) healing retreat, served
as chaplain to the TOB Institute in the USA and co-founded the TOB Network UK along with Dr.
Christine Ward in 2020. He is currently the spiritual director of the Men & Women of St. Joseph
which is a national movement aimed at restoring a vibrant Catholic faith in England.

Christine Ward has been married to Tom for 32 years, they have four children and live in North Yorkshire, UK.  Christine completed an MA through the Maryvale Institute in Birmingham in 2011 and completed her PhD also through Maryvale in 2017.  She teaches the Christian Anthropology and Sexual Ethics modules for the Master’s programme at Maryvale and she also lectures on the Sacrament of Marriage at Oscott Seminary in Birmingham.  

An extract from her doctoral thesis: “An empirical study of the nature of the disconnect between faith and praxis:  An examination of the sexual moral teaching of the Catholic Church in light of those electing to marry in the Catholic Tradition” has been published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing.  She is the co-founder of the ‘Theology Of the Body Network UK’, an initiative that was launched in launched September 2020.  The aim of the TOB Network UK is to connect all those interested in studying Theology of the Body/Magisterial teaching on marriage and sexuality.  The Network has run several retreats and talks since its inception and has a data base of over 240 members from across the UK.  Christine has given talks in many parishes, at Youth 2000, New Dawn and at Fisher House at Cambridge University.

Theodore House offers a wonderful venue for any residential course. The tranquil and beautiful surroundings of the Stonyhurst estate offer a peaceful setting with endless opportunities for walks. Guests will enjoy the comfortable recreational spaces and a beautifully lanscaped garden.

For more information about Theodore House, please click here.

  • Arrivals from 5pm (Friday)
  • Retreat commences with evening prayer at 6:45pm and dinner at 7pm
  • Departures from 3:30pm on Sunday

Residential: £330 per couple (includes en-suite twin room and full board*)

Non-residential: £190 per couple (includes lunch and dinner*)

*from Friday dinner to Sunday lunch inclusive.

If you would like to attend as a single person or as a non-married couple, please contact us for availability and pricing.

A limited number of bursaries are available for. Please contact us for further information.


“I feel like I have learnt so much and opened my heart and mind to the Church.”

Please register below (includes £50 p.p. deposit payment):


Courses Events

Building Catholic Culture in Education [residential course]

CPD for leaders of Catholic schools & MATs

Building Catholic Culture in Education

Friday 12th - Sunday 14th May 2023

A weekend exploring essential themes
for a Catholic ethos in today’s schools

“[The Catholic school’s] proper function is to create for the school community a special atmosphere animated by the Gospel spirit of freedom and charity … and to order the whole of human culture to the news of salvation so that the knowledge the students gradually acquire of the world, life and man is illumined by faith”

Second Vatican Council, Declaration on Christian Education “Gravissimum Educationis”

Our weekend course is aimed at governors, trustees, chief executives, heads and senior leaders who wish to engage in a serious discussion around the fundamentals of Catholic identity in a secular, multi-cultural and post-modern society, and the challenges of creating and sustaining a Catholic culture in educational settings in today’s Britain.

Bringing together an array of experienced and insightful practitioners with a variety of backgrounds, the course will enable a deeper understanding of the theological building blocks of a Catholic culture. The course will examine the opportunities and challenges presented by the increasingly secular culture in Britain today, in order to reflect on the commonalities and differences that go towards defining Catholic educational institutions.

Keynote speech:

Cultural Challenges to Catholic Education

by Mgr Michael Nazir-Ali

Nazir-Ali, Mgr Michael2


  • Why Catholic? The Uniqueness and Universality of Christ’s Church in a Pluralist World
  • Shifting Sands: Secular and Catholic Concepts of Person and Society
  • A Question of Nature: Created Male and Female or Genderless Creation?
  • Educating to be Catholic in Contemporary Society
  • Culture Wars in Catholic Schools: Feminism, LGBT and Critical Race Theory
  • Managing Culture Wars from a Legal Standpoint

This course is intended for those in positions of leadership or governance in Catholic multi-academy trusts and schools, whether as executives, senior leaders, governors or trustees.

The weekend is built around six sessions and a keynote speech, allowing for questions and discussion time with each speaker, as well as dedicated discussion and plenary sessions.

A framework of prayer will be offered with daily morning and evening prayer and Mass.

Evening socials and free time provide a great opportunity for networking in a relaxed environment.

Mgr Michael Nazir-Ali was the 106th Bishop of Rochester, for 15 years, until 1 September 2009. He is originally from Southwest Asia and was the first Diocesan Bishop in the Church of England born abroad. He was appointed in 1994. Before that he was the General Secretary of CMS from 1989-1994 and prior to holding this position was Bishop of Raiwind in Pakistan. He holds both British and Pakistani citizenship and from 1999 was a member of the House of Lords where he was active in a number of areas of national and international concern. He has both a Christian and a Muslim family background and is now President of the Oxford Centre for Training, Research, Advocacy and Dialogue (OXTRAD).

Rev. Stephen Morgan has been Rector of the University of Saint Joseph since 2020. Originally from Wales in the UK, he is an Associate Professor of Theology and Ecclesiastical History.

After a career in finance in the City of London and Hong Kong, he spent fifteen years as the CFO/COO of a large not-for-profit in the UK. Returning to academic work in 2009, he read for a DPhil in Theology at the University of Oxford, where he was a post-doctoral Research Associate of St Benet’s Hall between 2013 and 2015. He has been a member of the academic staff of the Maryvale Institute of Higher Religious Sciences since 2011.

Katherine Bennett has a BA in Theology and an MA in Philosophy, and has taught Religious Education for over 20 years in London schools. She is now a writer and broadcaster, running weekly conversations about the Catholic Faith on YouTube, writing for the Catholic Herald and working with Catholic Voices. She was commissioned by Archbishop John Wilson to be deanery mentor responsible for evangelisaton in Southwark. 



Ryan Christopher read history at the University of Cambridge before studying Philosophy at the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas and Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University.
His passion for Christian anthropology is the result of years of experience in the field of teaching and evangelisation. Ryan held senior posts at Ampleforth College, York, and St Aloysius’ College, Glasgow as well as teaching in the state sector and providing private tuition. Ryan serves as director of ADF UK in London. He is the advisor to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Religious Education and regularly engages with the Department for Education regarding Christian Education. 

Dr Gavin Ashenden studied theology at Oak Hill Theological College in London, and was ordained as an Anglican priest by + Mervyn Stockwood in Southwark Cathedral in 1980. He lectured at the University of Sussex for 23 years on the Psychology of Religion and Literature. He was a member of the General Synod of the Church of England for 20 years, and served as Chaplain to the Queen from 2008 to 2017.

Gavin resigned from the Church of England in 2017, then being ordained as a Missionary bishop to the UK and Europe for the Christian Episcopal Church. He has since been received into the Roman Catholic Church by + Mark Davies at Shrewsbury Cathedral. Dr Ashenden now writes as a lay Catholic, contributing articles to both secular and religious press, and continuing his well-established online ministry.

Stefan Kaminski studied philosophy and theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and gained a Licentiate from the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family Life. He has worked in parishes delivering catechesis, and in a wide range of schools in various roles from chaplain to governor and Head of Theology. He has served as Director of The Christian Heritage Centre charity for four years, creating and delivering Catholic formation to a range of audiences.

Theodore House offers a wonderful venue for any residential course. The tranquil and beautiful surroundings of the Stonyhurst estate offer a peaceful setting with endless opportunities for walks. Guests will enjoy the comfortable recreational spaces and a beautifully lanscaped garden.

For more information about Theodore House, please click here.

  • Arrivals from 5pm (Friday)
  • Course commences with evening prayer at 6:45pm and dinner at 7pm (Friday), followed by introductions and the first session
  • Departures from 3:15pm on Sunday

Single room: £220 p.p.*

Twin room (sharing): £180 p.p.*

Non-residential, (includes lunches and dinners): £130 p.p.

*Includes full board from Friday dinner to Sunday lunch inclusive.

Bursaries of up to £70 p.p. are available to support with the cost of the course where required.

Please contact for further information.

“The lecture content was well organised and focused on practical situations – intellectually challenging, but stimulating and easy to follow. Presentation was great and brought emphasis on the important points.”

“Thank you so much for this conference and all the effort and hard work that has been put into it. The ability to gather and discuss with a framework of reflection and prayer/sacraments is truly precious.

Please register below (includes £50 p.p. deposit payment):