Bishop Richard Moth, chair of the board of governors at London’s St. Mary’s University. Photo by Michael Swan

Opportunity awaits at London Catholic university

  • March 15, 2015

TORONTO - London, England, was never the centre of the Catholic universe. But it’s an interesting outpost with an interesting university, claims Bishop Richard Moth.

Moth, when he isn’t being the bishop of the United Kingdom’s military ordinariate, is chair of the board of governors at St. Mary’s University in London. St. Mary’s is the oldest Catholic university in England and Moth has become its most senior salesman.

Moth was in Toronto recently to meet with representatives of the University of St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto, letting them know what opportunities await at St. Mary’s for students who might want to broaden their university experience.

“We’ve got the whole London experience,” declared Moth. “What St. Mary’s offers is a Catholic university that is a university in its own right, which has a very, very clear Catholic identity and makes no apology for that. We’re not a massive institution. We’re growing but we’re not massive. I would say it’s a place with a family feel to it in London.”

In recent years St. Mary’s has gained fame for its athletic programs (some of the best middle distance runners in Europe and an official training site for the 2012 Olympics) and drama (graduates range from actor Pete Postlethwaite to Chris Chibnall, writer and producer behind the Broadchurch series). But it has a business school with deep ties inside the City of London, a theology department, humanities research that has been used to brief the Vatican on human trafficking, a physics department which works directly with the UK National Physical Laboratory.

“There’s really a lot going on,” Moth told The Catholic Register.

St. Mary’s is also one of the least expensive universities in England, with undergraduate tuition for overseas students pegged at £10,130 ($19,500). The University of Oxford will cost a Canadian anywhere from £14,845 ($28,600) to £21,855 ($42,100).

St. Mary’s didn’t start off as a full-fledged university in 1850. It was a teacher training college for a fast-growing Catholic population that could at last establish its own primary and secondary schools. It was a year of change and growth in the English Church, as it began to re-establish dioceses again for the first time since the Tudor kings and queens were hunting down Catholic priests and having them drawn and quartered as traitors.

The teacher training college evolved very gradually into a university and has been expanding rapidly since it began granting its own degrees in 2006.

At St. Mary’s, “Catholic and excellence go together,” said Moth.

“Twenty per cent of the students at St. Mary’s are Catholics. So why are all these non-Catholics coming to St. Mary’s?” Moth asked. “It’s because the ethos provides a very fine education with respect for the people who study there.”

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