Stories and Testimonies from the Brethren

Here you will find information about some of the brethren of the European Province and what the Oratory means in their life and ministry. 

Bishop Dominic Walker, OGS (Provincial of the European Province and Prior of the Hawarden College)
IMG_7021_edited-1Who are you?

I am Dominic Walker and at present I am Prior of the Hawarden College. I spent 20 years as a parish priest before being appointed Area Bishop of Reading in the Church of England. After six years, I was elected Bishop of Monmouth in the Church in Wales and retired ten years later and, following Welsh tradition, I have stayed in the diocese and assist in the local parishes and as an honorary assistant bishop.

How long have you been a brother of OGS?
I have been in the Oratory for over 35 years and before that I spent 17 years in a more traditional religious community.

What does the Oratory mean to you?
For me, the Oratory provides a way to live the consecrated life whilst engaging in ministry and mission. I value being part of a family of diverse people and the support and accountability that are two important aspects of community belonging.

Father Peter Hibbert, OGS (Former Superior of the Oratory and member of the Hawarden College)

Who are you?
I am a barrister of the Inner Temple, London.  Before I entered the legal profession, I Screenshot 2018-12-13 at 18.38.31trained as a field archaeologist at the University of Liverpool and worked on prehistoric and Roman sites in Cheshire and North Wales. As a lawyer, I handled all the Toxteth riot litigation cases in the 1980s on behalf of the Merseyside Police, and eventually became an associate professor of law in Birmingham and was awarded the first Chair in Legal Practice at Leicester.  I was ordained priest in 2000 and served my title at Knighton, Leicester. I am currently a member of the Market Harborough Anglican Team, and also was the Superior of the Oratory between 2011 and 2019.

How long have you been a brother of OGS?
I was professed in 2002.

What does the Oratory mean to you?
To be able to live the single consecrated life, you need to have fellowship, as well as discipline and accountability.  The Oratory has enabled me to do this within parish and workplace communities.  That is what living a life in the imitation of Christ means to me.

Father Peter Ford, OGS (Hawarden College)

Peter FordWho are you?
My name is Peter Ford, and for the last 9 years I have been ministering in the Archdeaconry Gibraltar within the Diocese in Europe. The Archdeaconry cover 5 countries, but I have mainly worked in Spain.

I was made Deacon 40 years ago in Durham Cathedral, and in England held various posts in the dioceses of Durham, Wakefield and Blackburn.

How long have you been a brother of OGS?
My First Profession was in 1972 and so time has made me the Senior Brother in the European Province. My contact goes back to 1964 when I became a Companion. During these 46 years I have held many offices in the Province.

What does the Oratory mean to you?
Having been a member for so many years I cannot imagine what life would be like without the Oratory. It is my family, my guide, my support. My priestly vocation finds its true fulfilment in Jesus the Good Shepherd, a vocation which is very special and sacred to me.

Brother Michael Bartlett, OGS (Mission Brother of the Hawarden College

Screenshot-2019-01-02-at-18.25.23.pngWhen asked if I would write a short passage for inclusion on the website with regard to my life within The Oratory I found it difficult to know where to begin. Her Majesty The Queen provided the answer in her Christmas Message to the Commonwealth and country. She mentioned Faith, Family and Friendship.  These are three subjects frequently heard mention within Oratory circles and which are particularly important to me.

Aged 11, I was fortunate in that I became a member of the Manchester Cathedral  statutory choir, a great privilege. Though I would never pretend to have always paid  attention to the lessons and sermons heard at offices, communion services, ordinations, Assize services and others, the Worship of God did become not only a part of my life but a desire.  We were taught that  even if there were to be only one member in the congregation we were there to worship God for, on behalf of, and with every person within the Diocese – in union with the Church past, present and to come. One certainly came to understand the church in the context of the whole, not only in a parochial sense (which in many cases and places appears to have become the accepted norm), but in a spiritual and heavenly sense, engulfing the whole of God’s creation. Though one is aware of and grateful for the personal salvation offered by God through Jesus Christ upon the Cross one’s faith is more importantly concerned (especially in recent days) about the Salvation of the whole mankind. The older I become the less concerned am I about me but more about the world.

With regard to family, relationships and life within the Oratory are, as with any normal family, dependant upon personalities, abilities, geographical positions, ages, cares and concerns, difficulties and successes. One reaps as one sows – receives as one puts in.

My experience down the forty years of membership has been nothing other than the full support of the brethren. Wherever I have been or whatever I have been trying to achieve be it life within the church, secular employment or following my interest of travel and civil aviation, I have always known the backing, help and interest of the brethren.  I hope that my support of members, companions and associates has been as great as I have received from them.

The same applies to friendship as with family. In life we all discover those with whom we can and maybe do build a close interest, affection, appreciation and understanding. All result in an indescribable bond. This is aided by the fact that The Oratory, in one sense, is a Community.  She encourages such a bond as each member, companion and associate is filled with the idea of fulfilling the aim of The Oratory which is, “the Adoration of Almighty God in the service of the Lord Jesus Christ and the imitation of His most holy life”

Being a lay member of The Oratory family is, to me, an opportunity among friends to practice my faith and therefore most importantly to Adore and Worship God as taught a long time ago when that young lad in the choir.

Father Michael Bullock, OGS (Prior of the London & Cambridge College)

Michael BullockWho are you?
Michael Bullock, I retired to live in Spalding in Lincolnshire in 2012, but in 2017 became Chaplain of Bonn and Cologne in the Diocese in Europe.

How long have you been a brother of OGS?
I was professed in 1993.

What does the Oratory mean to you?
A family and a fellowship.  I feel no call to live in physical community, but the Oratory provides the fellowship I need to follow Christ more nearly.

Father Dominic Austin Cawdell OGS (Hawarden College)

First Professed

Who are you?
I am 24 years old and I was ordained to the Priesthood in June 2019, and am serving a curacy  in St Asaph Diocese – rooted in the communities of Llay, Rossett and Isycoed. I trained for ordained ministry at St Padarn’s Institute in Llandaff. Before that, I read theology at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.

How long have you been a brother of OGS?
I was professed in October 2019, having first began my journey in the Oratory in May 2017.

What does the Oratory mean to you?
I really feel like I’ve found a home in the Oratory. Having explored other forms of the Consecrated Life, OGS has given me the mutual accountability and prayerful fellowship which I longed for, while allowing me to follow my other vocation to be a priest in the Church in Wales.